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 “July, 2012”

Day 202

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Welcome to Day 202 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: 2 Kings 18; 2 Kings 19; 2 Chronicles 32; James 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 18:32b, “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ 33 Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?”

2 Kings 19:17, “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”

35 “That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew.”

2 Chronicles 32 is basically the same content as 2 Kings 18…

James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

O bservation

You gotta love how God just wiped out the Assyrian army (185,000 dead!). Mocking God in arrogance is never a good idea.

A pplication

It sure seems that all throughout the Old Testament that those kings who trusted in the Lord had great victory. Those who didn’t, not so much.

But this is such a dramatic turn of events! They literally went to bed, and never work up. The angel of the Lord literally killed them as they slept. Not one sword was drawn!

Makes me think of, “If God is for us, than who can be against us?”

Proverbs 3 drives this point home, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

185,000.

The population of Dayton is 144,000…

Israel (and Judah) were used to fighting wars. Sometimes we have to fight to win. Sometimes the Lord simply scatters and confuses our enemy. Other times, he just fights the battle all on his own…

… especially when a king makes and arrogant statement like this, “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ 33 Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?” 2 Kings 18:32b-33

How often do people around us echo sentiments like that? Doubting God, his ability, his provision, his goodness, his faithfulness?

Yes, we get laid off, sick, discouraged… But we need to trust God through those times, not turn away from him.

I will not soon forget this passage of God giving Hezekiah a huge victory without his ever having to lift a finger!

185,000!

P rayer

Lord, I’m willing to fight for you, but I look forward to a huge victory that you do all on your own to give glory to your name! I think I’ll just go to bed now so you can fight while I sleep!

Day 201

Friday, July 20, 2012

Welcome to Day 201 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: 2 Chronicles 29; 2 Chronicles 30; 2 Chronicles 31; James 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 Chronicles 29:6, “How about this for bold statement? “Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the Lord our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him… 10 Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us.”

35, “So the service of the temple of the Lord was reestablished. 36 Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly.”

(Way to go Hezekiah!)

2 Chronicles 30:25, “The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and all who had assembled from Israel, including the foreigners who had come from Israel and also those who resided in Judah. 26 There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and

God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.”

2 Chronicles 31:1, “When all this had ended, the Israelites who were there went out to the towns of Judah, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. They destroyed the high places and the altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh.”

20 “This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. 21 In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly.”

James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

O bservation

Israel’s down and up history continues with Hezekiah implementing sweeping reform regarding worshiping false gods and re-instituting worship only of the God of Israel.

A pplication

Hezekiah is a great example of what can be…

I once heard a saying, “Some people look at things as they are and ask, “Why?” Others see things as they could be and ask, “Why not?”

Of course, Hezekiah was the king and he could do whatever he wanted. He had the power, the authority and the resources to pull it off.

But his heart was in the right place.

Many kings before him did similarly, but never quite finished the job… by destroying the High Places and Asherah poles, etc.

What an inspiring story!

Hezekiah was a true worship leader! He led people back into worship. He consecrated the Levite priests, returned all the articles and instruments to the temple, offered sacrifices, burned the incense… and, celebrated the Passover! (Even though it was not the usual time for it, see 2 Chronicles 30:3. THAT was a bold move against tradition!)

2 Chronicles 30:18, “Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone 19 who sets their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” 20 And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.”

What an amazing turn of events! What a great visionary leader!

P rayer

Lord, I want to be a leader like THAT!

 

 

Day 200! Woohoo!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Welcome to Day 200 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Kings 17; 2 Chronicles 28; Psalm 46; James 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 17, Israel enters a new era of captivity by Assyria.

“They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.”

2 Chronicles 28:22, “In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, “Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.”

But they were his downfall

and the downfall of all Israel.”

(I’m done blogging about Israel’s downfall… lol.)

Psalm 46:10, “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'”

James 3, insert the whole chapter of James 3 here! Incredible scripture!

1 “2 We all stumble in many ways…”

9 “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

O bservation

How true is that? “We all stumble in many ways.”

A pplication

THEN James launches into this rant about the tongue and how it is a fire, set on fire from Hell… yadda, yadda, yadda…

I don’t know about you, but I am acutely aware when I say something I shouldn’t have. I may joke about my “filter” needing replaced, but honestly, it’s my self-rebuke. It’s how I remind myself that my mouth is for one thing, praise.

Not cursing others that God has made…

I am not responsible for what anyone else does or says, only for what I say and do.

What just popped into my head? “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

Whatever I do? Word or deed?

Seriously?

Matthew 12:36, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”

Ouch…

Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Gulp.

Not that I “let it fly…” I don’t. I’ve never had much difficulty keeping a rein on my tongue… I rarely swear (out loud. ; )

My offenses would be much, much more subtle. Not so obvious…

Although when I am tired, I am much more apt to say something “unwholesome.” Otherwise, my filter works pretty good… most of the time.

Proverbs 18:8 states, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” I compare gossip to M&Ms… “Choice morsels.” Little tasty bits of information about someone or a situation that we may know something about… or that others may know… usually prefaced with, “I probably shouldn’t say anything…”

You’re right… you probably shouldn’t.

What would life be like if we didn’t listen to, or spread gossip. (Even in the form of a prayer request? Doh!)

What if we all just stopped the person before they started and simply said, “Hey, you know, I probably don’t need to know whatever it is, and you probably just shouldn’t say anything anyway…”

That’s the way it should work.

P rayer

Lord, help me to keep a tight rein on my tongue, at all times! That I would only speak words that encourage and build others up!

Day 199

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Welcome to Day 199 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Isaiah 32; Isaiah 33; Isaiah 34; Isaiah 35; James 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

It’s my opinion that it’s important to consult a commentary while reading the prophets. It can be difficult to discern what is “prophetic” in terms of the future Kingdom and what is referring to an upcoming event or earthly kingdom. Isaiah 32 seems to refer primarily to Hezekiah’s reign and the eventual invasion by Assyria, although much could apply to the future Kingdom (of the Messiah) as well, in terms of the prophetic… See 2 Kings 18-20 for historical perspective, records Isaiah prophesying to Hezekiah in 2 Kings 19:20-34.

John MacArthur’s “Grace to You” website gty.org has some great resources regarding what I am talking about. His attention to detail and thoughtful outlining of scripture is un-paralleled.

Isaiah 32:17, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. 18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.”

Isaiah 33:14, ““Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?” 15 He who walks righteously and speaks what is right…”

Isaiah 34, judgment against nations of peoples who are against God.

Isaiah 35, as usual, after an oracle of judgment, comes a promise of great mercy! This is a pretty standard Old Testament model of the prophetic.

James 2:18, “But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”

O bservation

I am now officially worn out by reading the constant judgment of the Old Testament! (Even with the promise of mercy!)

A pplication

It’s so easy to land on the judgment and our shortcomings versus God’s love and mercy.

Fortunately, if you fast forward 700 years to Christ, he became “the Lamb of God who takes (took) away the sin of the world!”

He was crucified and we were crucified with him, then raised to life with him!

So what do we do with that?

I go back to one verse that has been my true north for a long time. “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” Matthew 4:10, when Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13.

Worship and serve.

I can do that.

I serve out of my love for him… the by-product of my faith. Not to earn anything, but out of my love for him and my desire to see others come to Christ. To model a life of serving…

I worship him for who he is and for all he has done. Not from a viewpoint that he is the King and I am his servant, but he is my father and I am his son!

Galatians 4:6 states, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

Pretty incredible. God calls us his sons and daughters!

I can come to him as a son, not as a slave! (I get that even Jesus took on the form of a servant, humbling himself, taking on the very nature of a servant” Philippians 2:7) But that is a mindset, his willingness, not his position. He is clearly the son, sent to serve mankind by setting us free!

Our works are meant to prove our faith. It goes on to say, “Faith without works is dead.”

What does that say about works without faith? Those are just works. Can’t buy our way into heaven.

Lots of good people do good things, but the issue still comes down to Christ and who do people say that he is. Our hope has to be in him and the work he did on the cross, not on our works.

I much prefer being a son, not a slave!

P rayer

Thank you Lord for paying my debt! I will serve you with a glad and sincere heart for all my days!

Day 198

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Welcome to Day 198 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Isaiah 29; Isaiah 30; Isaiah 31; James 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

Isaiah 29:13, “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”

16, “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”?

v 1 refers to “Ariel” the city where David settled. In this case it’s Jerusalem, but Bethlehem is also referred to as the City of David.

Isaiah 30:18, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”

21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 31:1, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.”

James 1:22, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”

O bservation

So much in today’s readings! Could go in many directions… The potter and the clay, trusting God, hearing God’s voice, not just being a hearer but a doer of God’s word…

 

A pplication

But aren’t those the topics every day? Aren’t those always the challenges? Not just being a hearer, but being a doer of his word? Trusting in God, not in our stuff or our own ability. (The metaphor Isaiah used was “trusting in Egypt.”) Hearing God’s voice (note is says, “You will hear a voice behind you…”). And, who am I (the clay) to tell God (the potter) that I know better, or that my ways are better?

These are always the challenges of being a believer. The day to day struggles.

I am often prone to thinking my ways may be better. I am often challenged to make sure I am trusting in Him, versus myself. I can get ahead of Him and ignore His voice behind me as He is calling out to me…

Seems to all fit into one tidy package…

Seems easy enough…

Then why can it be so hard to actually walk this out?

I’ve been doing this for a long time. I know better. I know all He wants is for me to trust Him. It’s easier some times than others… but why not all the time? Why are we all prone to go our own way? To just ignore His voice and do our (my) own thing?

Is it simply that we’re human? Psalm 103 says that “He knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust.”

This is not an excuse, it’s a reality. We really are just human. I think it takes focus and dedication to walk with God, day in and day out, week after week, month after month, year after year.

My default thinking is “You can’t go wrong if you do what’s right.” I often say that to myself when I’m contemplating going off on someone, or pressing the boundaries of what is good or right. In other words, “Scott, just do the right thing.”

Sometimes I just don’t want to. Why is that?

I saw a bumper sticker the other day: Love God. Hate sin.

I can hate sin and still do it. (Ask any addict.)

I can love God and still not listen to his voice.

I like the analogy in James 1… a person who knows the word, but doesn’t do it is like a person who looks in a mirror, then forgets what they look like.”

That’s not possible, is it?

I can describe myself in detail. Oval face, graying hair, brown eyes, glasses, soul patch, thick lips, etc…

But we all do it. We know what the Bible says, but then don’t always do it.

I think more than weakness, it’s maybe an issue of determination? Maybe if I were stronger, I would be more determined, but I can be weak and determined, right?

I like that Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” Then, it’s about His strength, not mine.

Then it becomes about trust. Do I trust him to help me through my weak times?

But I love the promise in James 1:25, “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”

Sounds good to me!

P rayer

Help me Lord to walk with you. To know you are always with me. To apply your word to my life…

Day 197

Monday, July 16, 2012

Welcome to Day 197 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Isaiah 25; Isaiah 26; Isaiah 27; Isaiah 28; Hebrews 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

Chapters 24-27, Israel’s redemption through world judgment. Chapter 25 is a song of thanksgiving!

Isaiah 25:1, “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.”

25:9, “In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.'”

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.”

9, “My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.”

Isaiah 27:2, “In that day—“Sing about a fruitful vineyard: 3 I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it. 4

I am not angry.”

Isaiah 28:16, “So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion,

a tested stone,

a precious cornerstone

for a sure foundation;

the one who trusts will never be dismayed.”

Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?””

O bservation

Interesting… the scripture, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” is directly related to contentment and being free from the love of money.

The theme of Jesus being our rock continues… (I touched on this over the past weekend, that we are like “living stones” being built into a spiritual house, 1 Peter 2:4-5.)

A pplication

1 Timothy 6:6 states, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (One of my favorite verses.) Paul passing on his wisdom from personal experience to young Timothy…

Today’s passage from Hebrews echoes that simple-yet-weighty verse, “Be content with what you have…”

Being content with what you have does two things… First, it frees me from trying to keep up with the Joneses. Secondly, it removes a lot of pressure, both socially and financially.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a bigger house or new car, or even clothes with a certain label.

Our first family van was just like this one!

It really comes down to motivation. Why?

We are in the process of selling our house. Just down-sizing… Trying to down-size our mortgage payment. (It’s expensive when you have a family of six!) Now we are officially “empty nesters.” All our kids are grown and have moved out. We just don’t need the home we have…

I have never been much into houses and cars. (I do love my technology, though.)

Bonnie and I lived in a two-room apartment in Manhattan when we were first married. Two rooms, 10 x 14, a kitchen with no cupboards and a nasty bathroom. Oh, and a 35′ hallway… on the 5th floor. (No elevator.)

Then, we moved to the booming metropolis of downtown Eaton, Ohio. My hometown. We lived above a Whirlpool Appliance Center. We had only one car, and I commuted to Dayton every day.

As our family grew, our housing needs grew. I had started a business that was fairly successful, so we were able to purchase our first house after nearly 10 years of marriage. (We had been renting a three bedroom “Cape Cod” in Tipp City, just prior the purchase of our first house.)

I shut down my business in 1996 and went on staff at the Vineyard full time. We sold our house and moved to Beavercreek and purchased our current house… a downsize from our beautiful new home in which we had been living.

But it’s all a matter of perspective… To some, our current house could be their dream house. To others, it’s “just a tri-level.”

It has never much mattered to me where I lived. In college I shared a studio (one room) apartment. Then again in New York. I slept on the floor, on top of three large pillows, with my head propped up by my skateboard!

Contentment has never been much of a struggle for me. Bonnie and I have seen desperate financial times and other times of great financial blessing.

Either way, I have been content.

I have always worked hard, but trusted God every step of the way. We have steadily (for the most part) tithed since the day we were married. At one point, we were able to give an offering of $15,000.00 over and above our tithe. That was fun!

And there were times that when Bonnie did a party and the $55.00 she earned enabled us to put gas in our tanks and food on the table for a few days.

Paul also wrote in Philippians 4:11-12, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances… I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

I’m not saying this is easy. Like most things in the Bible, at times, they are easier said than done.

But again, it comes down to trust. Can I, do I trust in Him. Or do I trust in my own ability, strength, talent, personality, skills? Obviously, those traits can impact our earning potential, along with education and hard work… but one can be poor and just as materialistic, striving to have more.

The issue is never what we have, it always comes down to our heart.

(I know many of you can relate to our story… financial struggle, blessing and God’s faithfulness through it all!)

P rayer

Thank you Lord for providing for me and my family over the years. You are so faithful!

Day 196

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Welcome to Day 196 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Isaiah 22; Isaiah 23; Isaiah 24; Hebrews 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

Isaiah 22, a prophecy against “the Valley of Vision,” Jerusalem. Interesting it’s stuck in the middle of all the other oracles against foreign nations. Most likely due to it’s association with Babylon and Assyria (or Mesopotamia, parts of modern-day Turkey, Iran and Iraq, basically the area along the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.)

v 22, “what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”

Isaiah 23, “an oracle of judgment concerning Tyre, concerning commercial systems that do not take God into consideration.” The language is symbolic, not historically specific as some of Isaiah’s other prophecies. RSB Commentary.

Jesus also referred to Tyre (and Sidon) in Matthew 11 when he was speaking out against Bethsaida. Knowing that if he had done the same miracles in Tyre and Sidon that he had done in Bethsaida, those cities would have repented.

It’s never good when God compares your city to a prostitute.

Isaiah 24 (through 26) is often called an “apocalypse.” The prophet holds before sinner and godly the clear teaching that the day of the Lord brings judgment on creation and the fullness of salvation for the saints. God’s plan of redemption includes restoration from exile, the blessings of Christ in the church, and the establishment of God’s kingdom in all nations. Ch. 24 focuses on God’s overthrow of the corrupted earth; ch. 25, on the praise that comes to Him in response. RSB Commentary.

Doesn’t get much gloomier or doomier than Isaiah 24…

Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

O bservation

Throw off everything that hinders… sin that easily entangles… grow weary and lose heart.

Or…

Run the race. Fix our eyes on Jesus… NOT grow weary and lose heart.

A pplication

Because we have this great history, recorded in chapter 11’s “Hall of Faith,” we can look forward (As Mark Long mentioned in his comment to yesterday’s blog) and run this race to win.

(The imagery of running a race is also used in 1 Corinthians and Galatians… doesn’t prove that Paul wrote Hebrews… Many of the others this book’s authorship could be attributed to (Silas, Apollos, Philip, Priscilla, Aquilla, Clement) all most likely would have had access to Paul’s other letters and could have easily picked up on that imagery.)

It’s also worth mentioning that Paul always identified himself in his writings. Timothy is mentioned in chapter 13 as “our brother.” So it was certainly someone close to Paul, who also knew Timothy.

But I digress…

I love this imagery of running a race.

I was a runner back in the day. Not a great runner, but a solid one. I was fourth in the county. (Behind three other guys on my team!)

That whole thing about “endorphins” escaped me. “Runner’s high?” Huh?

I ran to win. Not for fun. Not because it made me feel great. Not for the love of the road.

Our team went to state three years in a row, finishing 7th, 11th and 4th respectively. I loved that.

I ran cross country because I nearly got killed as a tight end and safety in football. (I was 5’4″ and 90 lbs. in the 7th grade.) I played football through 8th grade and then got recruited by the high school coach.

I grew 8″ and added 50 lbs. in two years. By my sophomore year I was 6’/140, wearing 29 x 36 jeans. (Long stride.)

I can so relate to the imagery about running the race to win. I only won one race in my career… when I had to run a JV race, because I was ill the day we ran the trial race to determine the varsity team…

But again, I digress…

Point being, you mention “running the race to win” and I get plugged in.

I also understand pace. Any runner does.

Running is all about pacing oneself… Not burning out too soon. (Especially marathoners who are running 26.2 miles!)

But I can relate that to running my race as a believer, too. I get that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Life is lived one day at a time.

Pace.

And I get the idea of “spurring one another on to love and good works.” If you stop along the way, I can encourage you as I catch up to you, or vice-versa! We encourage one another.

I always enjoyed the road runs… as long as I had a companion to run with me. Otherwise, it was a lonely six miles…

So glad to be running this race with all of you!

P rayer

Lord, strengthen all my brothers and sisters who read this blog… that are also running this race!

Day 195

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Welcome to Day 195 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Isaiah 19; Isaiah 20; Isaiah 21; Hebrews 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

Isaiah 19, an oracle of judgment against Egypt, symbolic in nature.

19:20b, “When they (Egypt) cry out to the Lord because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them.”

Isaiah 20, the oracle of judgment against Egypt continued, more historical in nature.

20:3, “Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, 4 so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame.”

Isaiah 21, a prophecy against Babylon, “the desert by the sea.” Also against Edom and Arabia…

Hebrews 11:1, “Now, faith is…”

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” NIV

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” NASB

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” KJV

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” NLT

11:6, “And it is impossible to please God without faith.”

33 “By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.

But…

… others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith…”

O bservation

I like verses 33-35a much more than 35b-38!

A pplication

A while back, I quoted an ad that I had worked on years ago for Huntington Bank. “Wealth, like a good reputation, is more easily made, than kept.”

Relate it to this verse, 39 “All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith…”

Seems there is more than one way to earn a good reputation.

By being victorious… and by being humiliated or even killed for what we believe.

I certainly like the victorious path much more! Overthrowing kingdoms, ruling with justice, and receiving what God has promised, shutting the mouths of lions, quenching the flames of fire, escaping death by the edge of the sword. My weakness turned to strength. Becoming strong in battle, putting whole armies to flight!

That’s the good stuff right there!

That makes me want to jump up and down and shout!

The other part… not so much.

But I’m not sure I get to choose… I seriously doubt I’ll ever have to shut the mouth of a lion, or have the opportunity to route foreign armies… or even be in a place where I would possibly ever have to die for my faith.

But no matter, we are all still building our reputation… We are all known for something.

And a reputation is built over the long haul. Not in a day.

The difficulty is faith is not seen. What is seen is the evidence of our faith. The works that we do. How we live it out.

I’m convinced that walking day by day, in humility, trusting in him every step (as much as is humanly possible) along the way, making a difference, steady as she goes, is a great strategy.

P rayer

Help me to walk it out as did all those mentioned in Heb 11. They didn’t receive the promise…

But we have!

Day 194

Friday, July 13, 2012

Welcome to Day 194 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Isaiah 15; Isaiah 16; Isaiah 17; Isaiah 18; Hebrews 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

Isaiah 15 and 16, an oracle against Moab…

Isaiah 17, an oracle against Damascus…

10 “You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress.”

Isaiah 18, pruning and dead carcasses being preyed upon… judgment is never fun.

Hebrews 10:14, “by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. 17, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

31 “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

O bservation

I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about that… (“falling into the hands of the living God.”)

A pplication

I am resting in the hands of the living God.

We now have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place, by the blood of Jesus…

How about THIS for a verse; v 35 “Do not throw away your confidence…”

It’s so easy to do that. To forget all that Christ has done for us, or to think because we have stumbled that somehow we get deleted from his “A” list and moved to the “B” list, where we have to work a little harder, beg for forgiveness and earn our way.

“Do not throw away your confidence…”

Confidence.

Remember Hebrews 4? “Let us then approach the throne of grace with (you guessed it) confidence.”

The King James Version translates that, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace…”

I prefer the word “confidence.”

Boldly sounds… arrogant? to me. Or that I may be taking for granted the work he has done. But confidence means that I don’t have to be sheepish or afraid. I can be confident… because of what HE has done.

I never, ever, depends on what I have or haven’t done. I trust him. I’m in.

Be confident…

Don’t throw it away.

P rayer

… and so, so thankful… for all you have done for me.

Day 193

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Welcome to Day 193 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Isaiah 11; Isaiah 12; Isaiah 13; Isaiah 14; Hebrews 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

Isaiah 11:1, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (Jesus)

Isaiah 12:2, “The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.”

“Great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” (Jesus)

Isaiah 13:19, [Prophecy against] Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians,
will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Isaiah 14, Babylon had become the crown jewel of the Assyrian Empire. Babylon represents the kingdoms of this world… Both Peter (1 Peter 5) and John (Revelation 14, 16-18) used Babylon as a symbol of ungodly nations.

Hebrews 9:13, “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,

so that we may serve the living God!”

27 “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

O bservation

Once again, Hebrews delivers the goods! Amazing, deep scripture regarding Jesus’ sacrifice.

A pplication

Yet again we are reminded of the amazing sacrifice of Jesus. He offered himself, unblemished, to take away our sins.

Period.

(Remember back to Leviticus and all the sacrifices and their requirements? A lamb without spot or wrinkle?)

Jesus.

No need for ongoing sacrifices, offered by men, through men. Jesus did it. Once for all.

How does that apply? (This is the “Application” portion of my SOAP…)

I don’t have to strive. I don’t have to earn anything. I don’t have to be good enough. He paid my debt. In full.

It’s not about my serving, my giving, or even this Life Journal…

“So I… stand… in awe… of you…”

P rayer

All I can say, over and over and over, is thank you.

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