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 “June, 2012”

Day 181

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Welcome to Day 181 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Amos 7; Amos 8; Amos 9; Psalms 104; Titus 2 (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

Amos 7 This long section contains four visions (7:1–3; 7:4–6; 7:7–9; 8:1–3) and an autobiographical section related to the third vision (7:10–17). The first two visions have the structure: (a) the Lord gives the vision; (b) Amos intercedes; (c) the Lord relents. Conversation between the Lord and His prophet is an integral part of the visionary experience. RSB

Amos 8, God charges Israel with social injustice, commercial dishonesty, and indifference to holy days…

Amos 9, In the other four visions, Amos was an intercessor or respondent to the Lord’s questions (7:1–8:3 note; 7:7 note). In this vision, however, Amos has no active role, but simply records what he sees. RSB

13, “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes.

New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills, 14 and I will bring my people Israel back from exile.

“They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. 15 I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God.”

Psalm 104:33, “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.”

Titus 2, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

O bservation

Now THAT verse from Titus 2 is an AMAZING verse!

A pplication

“Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

Jesus didn’t only give himself to make a way for us to go to heaven.

He made a way for us to be right with God.

Then, our lives are spent doing good.

They key: “Being eager.”

Eager to do good.

I have spent the past several days trying to serve our team to the best of my ability. Making sure, as best as I can, that they are comfortable, cared-for, well rested and fed. I want them to all receive ALL that God has for them.

I don’t want them to miss anything.

I love doing good… or at least I try to do good. I’ve been hanging around Doug Roe for more than twenty years…

His voice mail message used to say this…

“Hi. This is Doug. I’m out doing good and having more fun than most people. Leave me a message after the beep. Thanks. God bless!”

The Gospel is more than what we believe. It’s how we live. How we walk it out.

“Eager to do good.”

P rayer

Lord, help me to be eager to do good.

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Day 180

Friday, June 29, 2012

Welcome to Day 180 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Amos 4; Amos 5; Amos 6; Psalms 86; Titus 1 (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

Amos 4, through the prophet Amos, God prosecutes a second lawsuit against Israel for having turned away from him. v 6, “yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.”

Amos 5 and 6 the prophet brings a word concerning Israel’s sin of moral and ethical decay.

5:14, “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. 15 Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.”

6:4, “You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. 5 You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. 6 You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. 7 Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end.”

Psalm 86, “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

Titus 1:15, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”

O bservation

Judgement… not a good thing.

A pplication

I love quoting Titus 1:125, “To the pure, all things are pure.”

Sometimes people will make an off-color joke or innuendo and look at them with a blank-confused look on my face and say, “What do you mean?” They usually reply, “You know what I mean!” To which I reply, “To the pure, all things are pure.”

There are actually a few people out there who may have no clue when someone does that. I’m not one of them.

I’m not the most street-smart guy on the planet, but I’m not completely clueless, either. I know more than I wish I did… and sometimes that bothers me.

Some of the stuff tucked away in my brain is a mystery, even to me.

I have always been interested in pop culture… and I’m pretty good at putting it to good use in terms of sharing the Gospel with others, or using it to convey spiritual truths. Mainly through movie and music references.

When I was in high school I was voted “Most into fads.” Great. Not best looking, not most likely to succeed. Most into fads.

(Want to see my pet rock?)

And how do I know the mathematical equation for the “acceptable” age difference for a relationship in Hollywood? (1/2 one’s age + 6 years).

How do I know these things? I honestly have no idea…

A few years ago, someone had a word for me at church. As they prayed for me they said they heard the Rod Stewart song, “Forever Young.” That’s worked pretty good for me… (except for my ever-graying hair.)

Been really interesting hanging the past several days. Staying with two teenagers and two twentysomethings. Listening to them talk about bands and fashion and… hair?

I’ve realized I’m not nearly as… young… or as cool or hip as I once thought.

Maybe in terms of for people my own age? But in general, not so much. More often than not, I am the oldest guy in the room these days. Very true at this conference. I’m just trying to be myself. And not look stupid along the way.

Purity is a funny thing.

A while back, during a message Doug picked up a bottle of water and (in so many words) said, “Would you drink this if I put even just one drop of sewage in it?

We’ll never be “pure” in our own right. Paul told Timothy things to avoid and to set an example “in life, in faith, in speech and in… purity.”

That’s how we live. Our behavior. Our actions. How we treat others. The decisions we make.

Only Jesus makes us “white as snow.” Only he washes away all our sin.

Beyond the work of Christ, purity is a choice. Thinking about what I say… Choosing to gossip or not. What I participate in…

In Galatians 5 Paul referred to “the works of the flesh” as compared to “the fruit of the Spirit.” A list of dos and don’ts, in pretty blunt fashion, I might add…

I know I’ll never be 100% pure on my own, but thanks to Jesus, he has made me pure.

P rayer

Thank you Jesus!

Day 179

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Welcome to Day 179 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Amos 1; Amos 2; Amos 3; Psalm 80; 2 Timothy 4 (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

Amos 1, This series of prophecies begins with six Gentile nations: Syria, Philistia, Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. Then the oracles dramatically turn against Judah (2:4–5) and Israel (2:6–16). RSB

Amos was from Tekoa, a small village 10 mi. S of Jerusalem. He was the only prophet to give his occupation before declaring his divine commission. He was not of priestly or noble descent, but worked as a “sheepbreeder” (1:1; 2 Kings 3:4) and a “tender of sycamore fruit” (7:14) and was a contemporary of Jonah (2 Kings 14:25), Hosea (Hosea 1:1), and Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1). The date of writing is mid-eighth century B.C., during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah (790–739 B.C.) and Jeroboam II, king of Israel (793–753 B.C.), two years before a memorable earthquake (1:1; cf. Zechariah 14:5, 760 B.C.). gty.org

Amos 2:”Now then, I will crush you as a cart crushes when loaded with grain. 14 The swift will not escape, the strong will not muster their strength, and the warrior will not save his life. 15 The archer will not stand his ground, the fleet-footed soldier will not get away, and the horseman will not save his life. 16 Even the bravest warriors will flee naked on that day,” declares the Lord.”

Amos 3 is like a lawsuit against Israel…

Psalm 80:19, “Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”

2 Timothy 4, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

O bservation

I just discovered something about myself… Not a huge fan of the prophets, and I know we are just getting started. I already am predisposed to focusing on the negative side of things… like, “Why did they do that? Note to self, don’t do that.”

A pplication

Following very closely the roller coaster ride of Israel (and Judah). Their sins are obviously stated… God points them out and they are recorded in scripture forever. Then, a king comes along, sometimes at the urging of a prophet, and they tear down the Asherah poles, destroy the high places and “outlaw” Baal worship.

Then the cycle continued… downward, upward, sin, repentance…

My summation thus far, at the near-halfway point of the year and the process, is simply that Israel had it’s ups and downs.

To say it another way, Israel is representative of the rest of us… Right?

Currently staying in very close quarters with five other people, (while at Bethel School of Worship) there is a lot of opportunity for misunderstanding, or crossing the line in our joking around. Irritation could be a running undercurrent. Keeping short lists is key. Communication is so important, without being petty along the way.

We make mistakes. Then (hopefully) clean up our messes.

Sin. Repent.

Seems easy enough. Stop sinning, so we have to repent less. Makes perfect sense to me…

1 John 3:6, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

Obedience is a huge thing… Living as Jesus did…

How about this… Live as Jesus did (so that my focus is not on “not sinning” but on actually living as Jesus lived.)

The bi-product of living as Jesus did as that (hopefully) we sin less.

Righteousness… holiness… purity…

Repentance.

P rayer

Lord, I want to live as Jesus did…

Day 178

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Welcome to Day 178 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: 2 Kings 13; 2 Kings 14; 2 Chronicles 25; 2 Timothy 3 (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

2 Kings 13:21 “Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.”

v 14, “Now Elisha had been suffering from the illness from which he died.” Hmmm..

2 Kings 14 continues the history of the succession in the kingdoms both of Judah and Israel.

v 10, “You have indeed defeated Edom and now you are arrogant.”

2 Chronicles 25 records an account of Amaziah’s reign (compare with 2 Kings 14.) Note that the war against Edom is recorded only in Chronicles.

2 Timothy 3:10, “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings…”

O bservation

One of the great mysteries of life is how a prophet like Elisha, who healed the sick and raised the dead, would die from an illness… Then, after he is buried, when a man’s body is thrown into his tomb, the man comes back to life when his dead body touched Elisha’s!

A pplication

Am I the only one to whom this makes no sense?

I get that Elisha was a power prophet and man of God. I do, I get that…

So… why would he die from “an illness?”

I think at the end of the day, it’s because we are all still human, in an earthly body? That in the end we are all dust anyway?

But it’s amazing that even after Elisha is dead and buried that when another man’s body is tossed into his tomb, that man comes back to life?

How does that work?

What makes no sense to me is that one who had healed the sick and raised the dead would die from an illness.

That is what makes no sense to me…

The fact that a guy came back to life after his dead body touched Elisha’s… I get that.

What I don’t get is why he would die from an illness…

That never makes sense to me. Like Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA (where I am right now), his father died of cancer… and they see people healed of cancer on a regular basis.

Makes no sense, does it…

That seems to be just kind of how life is. Some things make no sense.

David echoed this throughout the Psalms… 44:23, “Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever. 24 Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?”

I think it’s good to ponder these questions without getting hung up on them.

Should we stop praying for the sick, because our loved one died of cancer? (No.) Elisha died of an illness… and he healed the sick and raised the dead. (I keep reminding myself of that.)

I think this is why Jesus said to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done.” We are to pray that, not in a repetitious way, but in a very real way, asking for God’s will to be done on earth.

Because it isn’t always done on earth. Everyone knows it… It’s not God’s will for a baby to die after living for four days. Or in utero… Or to have a heart condition… or…

See what I’m saying? Some things just make no sense and you have to land on that God’s will is not always done on earth as it is in heaven.

That’s why Jesus told us to pray for it… to contend for it.

Let your kingdom come, and your will be done.

P rayer

I want to see heaven come to earth…

Day 177

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Welcome to Day 177 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Jonah 1; Jonah 2; Jonah 3; Jonah 4; 2 Timothy 2 (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

Jonah 1-2, “The book of the prophet Jonah falls into two main divisions, each introduced by the sentence, “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah.” The first division comprises two sections: the call, flight, and judgment of Jonah (chapter 1), and the thanksgiving psalm (chapter 2).

Jonah 3-4, “In this second division of the book Jonah preaches the message God commanded, and the people of Nineveh respond with genuine repentance (chapter 3). When the Lord turns from threatened judgment, we learn the real reason why Jonah had fled the first time: he feared that God would show mercy to the hated Assyrians (chapter 4). In the object lessons that follow, the wideness of the Lord’s mercy and compassion is revealed.

1:7, “Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out

who is responsible

for this calamity.”

4:11, [But the Lord said…] “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

2 Timothy 2:1, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

v 7 “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”

O bservation

Interesting how on the ship “All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god.”

A pplication

The sailors knew this was an unusual storm. Something must have been different. They discerned that something was amiss… each called out to his own god.

But the question they asked was “Who is responsible?”

They didn’t ask, “Why is this happening?” They got the answer to that question, though. They already knew Jonah was running from God. (He had told them.)

Does this mean someone is responsible for every storm? Or that God causes every storm.

No.

And I can say that in full confidence.

Remember when Elijah had dusted the prophets of Baal, then went up the mountain? There was a great wind, earthquake and fire, and the Lord was not in any of them. (1 Kings 19).

He was in the gentle whisper (v 12).

Just when you think have him figured out, right after he showed up on Mt. Carmel… fire from heaven, (in dramatic fashion) he’s not in the next three dramatic (natural) occurrences.

As one reads through the Old Testament, it’s pretty clear that God rendered judgment on people pretty often for their disobedience.

But you find that in the New Testament, except for a few times (Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5) and in Revelation. In fact, when the disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven on Samaria, Jesus rebuked them.

Jesus was into mercy.

(Remember the woman caught in adultery?)

The teachers of the Law wanted to stone her according to the law, but Jesus dissuaded them.

God even extended mercy to the people of Nineveh.. because they repented.

God always, always, always extends mercy when there is repentance.

The city of Nineveh, as a whole, repented and God refrained from destroying it.

And Jonah was upset by that?

Go figure.

Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13

P rayer

Thank you Lord for your mercy!

Day 176

Monday, June 25, 2012

Welcome to Day 176 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Joel 1; Joel 2; Joel 3; 2 Timothy 1 (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

Joel 1, Two crises confront Judah with the consequences of their sins: the recent devastation of the land by locusts and drought; and the imminent assault on the land by the army of the Lord.

Joel 2, Joel urges “all the inhabitants of the land” to prepare for an imminent assault by the army of the Lord. A contrite heart among the people may bring God’s compassion and blessing…

v 28, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”

32, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Joel 3, Joel prophesies the coming of that day of the Lord in which God will with finality judge Zion’s enemies and make Zion a source of everlasting blessing. (Reformation Study Bible)

2 Timothy 1:6, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

13, “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

O bservation

What resonates with me today is the verse, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”

A pplication

What an amazing thought… God is going to pour out his Spirit on all people.

All people.

ALL people.

I wonder what they (all people) will do? With the availability of his goodness and with the responsibility that goes along with the administration of his Spirit… The personal responsibility…

Yet people will still reject him. He is a package deal. You can’t get His Spirit without “Him” being a part of it.

Jesus is the key.

Most people like the idea of “God.” And “the Spirit” sounds all mystical and accessible to all. Where the difference kicks in is with Christ.

That’s what people don’t like. (Those who are not Christians…)

Here’s what Paul told Timothy, “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

Jesus is the Son of God, with all the fulness of the Father dwelling in him. His father is God. Jesus ascended into heaven and the gift of the Holy Spirit was given.

That’s how it works. It’s a package deal.

We don’t get to pick and choose…

I love the promise, though… ALL people. It’s (He, His Spirit is) available to ALL people. It’s not an exclusive club.

Having said that though… what comes to mind is that the path is narrow.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Few and many.

Few find the path that leads to life… Many are on a “broad road that leads to destruction.”

That bothers me…

I want ALL people to experience God’s presence.

It’s available… to ALL people.

But it’s their choice…

I make the choice every day to “fan the flame the gift of God” that has been entrusted to me.

P rayer

Thank you Lord that it’s your heart to draw ALL people to yourself.


Day 175

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Welcome to Day 175 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: 2 Kings 11; 2 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 24; 1 Timothy 6 (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

2 Kings 11, Jehoiada the priest leads a coup against the usurper Athaliah, mother of Ahaziah, and installs young Joash (Jehoash), son of Ahaziah, as rightful king of Judah. Reformation Study Bible

v 20 “All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword at the palace. 21 Joash was seven years old when he began to reign.

2 Kings 12, “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 The high places,

however,

were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.”

“They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty.

Joash contracted temple repairs…

v 20, “His officials conspired against him and assassinated him at Beth Millo, on the road down to Silla. 21 The officials who murdered him were Jozabad son of Shimeath and Jehozabad son of Shomer. He died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. And Amaziah his son succeeded him as king.”

2 Chronicles 24 portrays a more evil description of Joash and his bitter demise… he ruled forty years, starting at age seven.

1 Timothy 6:6, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

O bservation

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

A pplication

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Say that again…

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Does that mean it’s wrong to have money? Nope. That’s not the point of this passage. The point is always about our attitude toward our money. How we use it.

v 17, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

I’m learning to simply enjoy life. Whatever God has provided for me (and my family, obviously.)

Funny, I write this as I am sitting in a house on the Sacramento River in Redding, California. Our group of six is amazed at God’s goodness and generosity, that we get to stay here.

I read this verse this morning and thought, “God, you provided this for me (us) just for us to enjoy it, because you are good.” (And it was cheaper to house six people in a house than in hotels or renting rooms for each person in different homes. All were options I looked into. 🙂

Paul told Timothy to tell those who were rich to do good and to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and to be willing to share.

Good advice.

You can be broke and still be generous with what you have. If you have a little, be generous with a little. If you have a lot, be crazy generous! 2 Corinthians states that we are blessed in proportion to how we give… sow, as it were. Our money is like seed. If you sow little in terms of generosity, then you reap little in terms of your harvest.

(This is not about tithing… that is a different principle altogether. God expects us to do that. The tithe belongs to him already. In that regard we are simply returning to him what is his.)

“Be rich in good deeds” doesn’t have to require money… In the above context, Paul is instructing people who have lots of money. But “rich in good deeds” can apply to those who don’t have much money. It doesn’t always take money to do good deeds. It’s more about time… maybe even more about focusing on others versus focusing on our stuff or making more money.

But the principle remains, be generous and share what we have.

P rayer

Thank you Lord for your generosity toward me. Thank you that I live under an open heaven, with your goodness flowing in my direction!

Day 174

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Welcome to Day 174 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: 2 Kings 10; 2 Chronicles 22; 2 Chronicles 23; 1 Timothy 5 (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

2 Kings 10:28, “So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel. 29

However,

he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit—the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.”

2 Chronicles 22, Athaliah usurps the throne after the death of her son Ahaziah…

2 Chronicles 23, “The Zadokite priest Jehoiada resisted Queen Athaliah and gained the military support necessary for temple and political reform. Reformation Study Bible

21, “All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword.”

1 Timothy 5:9, “No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.”

Instructions concerning widows, elders and slaves.

O bservation

I find it very confusing bouncing around between Kings and Chronicles, even though they somewhat track one another, it’s hard to keep all the characters straight, because they change almost daily.

Stunning to me how brutal some can be “in the name of the Lord.” Seems they are often carrying out the judgment against them.

A pplication

This passage from 1 Timothy is the passage I used when we were setting up guidelines for providing financial help from our Alms fund.

Paul gave Timothy some pretty clear guidelines as to who to put on the list of widows. And who should not be, and why. Starting with age 60.

v 9, “No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.”

I wonder what happened if someone needed help and they were 59?

Our criteria for financial aid has been:

Do they attend our church regularly? Have they gone through membership? Is there any record of them having contributed financially? Do they serve in some area of the church? Are they in a small group?

It was amazing to me the number of people who would apply for assistance and they would not meet any of the above criteria. They would claim to know Doug or Scott (as though they were our closest friends) but I wouldn’t recognize their name. One time someone asked if they knew Scott… (I was standing right there…) They proclaimed, “Oh, yeah… I know Scott!” I said, “Yeah, he’s a good guy, isn’t he?” To which they replied, “Yes, he sure is!”

And yet we still occasionally receive criticism due to having guidelines in place.

All of the above criteria indicate there is relationship… and commitment. Relationship with us, our church family and commit to the vision and mission. The phrase “is well known” from v 9 is key here…

We are not a social service agency. We are a church. We are not a foundation set up to write checks to all that apply. We provide groceries to nearly 1,000 households EVERY MONTH. We are doing more than our share.

But I felt that way when we were just getting started, serving just 72 households. (36 in Fairborn and 36 in Huber Heights.) Because it’s not about the number we are helping, or even how we choose to help them. It’s about being faithful to what the Lord has called us to, and walking it out faithfully, with grace. Grace is the key.

Just for the record, we will help ANYBODY in Greene county. (They still must meet ODJFS guidelines, but that is state-wide.) 30% of Greene County qualifies, so it’s really not an issue.

I write this today as I’m getting ready to head to the airport, on my way to a conference in Redding, CA at Bethel Church. Please pray for me and my team while we are away. We’ll be there for two weeks.

I’ll do my best to keep up with the blog in a timely manner!

P rayer

Thank you Lord that there are even guidelines for being a deacon or an elder. (Husband of one wife, not given to much wine, able to teach, etc.) And thank you that you don’t set the bar so high that none can jump it!

Day 173

Friday, June 22, 2012

Welcome to Day 173 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: 2 Kings 8; 2 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 21; 1 Timothy 4 (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

2 Kings 8, the Shunammite woman that had cared for Elisha was warned to leave the land due to an impending famine, upon her return is given back her home and land, AND all its income during those seven years!

v 15, “But the next day he [Hazael] took a thick cloth, soaked it in water and spread it over the king’s face, so that he died. Then Hazael succeeded him as king.”

2 Kings 9, the death of Joram and Ahaziah and Jezebel according to the word of the Lord.

2 Chronicles 21:4, “When Jehoram established himself firmly over his father’s kingdom, he put all his brothers to the sword along with some of the officials of Israel. 5 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. 6 He followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord. 7 Nevertheless [however], because of the covenant the Lord had made with David, the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David.”

v 20, “Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away,

to no one’s regret,

and was buried in the City of David,

but not in the tombs of the kings.”

1 Timothy 4:15, “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

O bservation

It amazes me day after day as I read how evil people can be. Ruthless leaders… over Israel and Judah.

A pplication

A continuation of yesterday’s theme of, “however.” The byline of one’s life…

Here’s Jehoram’s…

“Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away,

to no one’s regret,

and was buried in the City of David,

but not in the tombs of the kings.”

What comes to mind? What a waste. To have the opportunity to lead a people and to do it with such ruthless methods then to die and have no one care… Makes my heart heavy.

I’m getting kind of tired of feeling this way. I know we are looking back at history, but even today, around the world there are ruthless dictators ruling in similar fashion, killing thousands of their own countrymen or others living in the same region. Genocides, invasions… Peoples killing each other. Corrupt governments…

I spent three weeks in Rwanda after, when in 1994, nearly one million Rwandans, mostly of the Tutsi tribe, were killed by Hutus along with French militia. Even “the church” had a hand in this horror as Hutu priests called their Tutsi parishioners into ambushes. Unbelievable.

Even our own country has its not-so-pretty history with our own civil wars and the wiping out of entire nations of Native Americans who occupied this land for generations before the arrival of European settlers. Our country is widely perceived around the world as invaders of other nations. We do it in the name of freedom and liberty, but the reality remains, we do invade other countries.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I’m not given to making political statements. Like you, I’m reading my Bible and merely trying to apply it to my life. Today’s reading just hit me square in the face as I pondered the life of Jehoram, a ruthless king… of Judah, the house of David.

Another black eye on David’s line…

I wonder what it must be like as God sits on his throne watching what takes place on this earth?

I met this woman on my trip to Rwanda, the curator of one of the church genocide sites…

Harkening back to Genesis 6:5, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

People haven’t changed since the dawn of creation. It’s only by the grace of God and his son, Jesus Christ that we are still here.

1 Timothy 4:10, “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”

P rayer

The world is in such desperate need of You and your grace… pour it our Lord and delay judgment until the return of your Son.

Day 172

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Welcome to Day 172 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: 2 Kings 6; 2 Kings 7; 2 Chronicles 20; 1 Timothy 3 (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

2 Kings 6, story of the ax head floating.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.”

The two women ate the one woman’s son??

2 Kings 7, Israel plunders the Aramean army after they are blinded and run in fear.

2 Chronicles 20, this battle is not found in Kings. Jehoshaphat defeats Moab and Ammon. “All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.” What a great moment! v 18, “Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”

v 22,

“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes

against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.”

v 32, “He [Jehoshaphat] followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. 33 The high places,

however,

were not removed, and the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their ancestors.”

1 Timothy 3:1-12, qualifications to be an overseer or a deacon. Paul’s instructions on how we ought to conduct our lives…

O bservation

My observation is that very few people don’t have a “however” somewhere in their life story…

A pplication

“However…”

2 Chronicles 20:32, “He [Jehoshaphat] followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. 33 The high places, however, were not removed, and the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their ancestors.”

“However…”

Do you ever imagine a biblical summary of your life? One sentence or one verse that encapsulates a lifetime?

What might yours say?

I often wonder what mine will say.

I know I’m determining that, even now…

If I died today, mine might say, “Scott was 28 when he moved to Dayton along with Doug Roe, and their wives and children, to serve the Lord. He served 22 years.”

“However…”

What if there were no “however?” Does there have to be one? Or is that just how life is… that we are all imperfect and flawed and destined to have “high places” in our lives that should have been removed, but for one reason or another, were not?

I wonder why Jehoshaphat didn’t remove the high places? Did he give in to public pressure? Did he have family who worshiped false gods? Was he too busy? Did he just think, “Those high places are just not that big of a deal?”

Look at the amazing victory he had by trusting in the Lord! God was certainly with him…

…even with high places in his life?

P rayer

Lord, help me to remove the high places from my life… to faithfully serve you for the next 22 years!

P.S. The battle belongs to the Lord! “The Lord set ambushes!” Note to self…

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