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 “September, 2012”

Day 273

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Welcome to Day 273 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Zechariah 7; Zechariah 8; Zechariah 9; Luke 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

Zechariah 7:8, “And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'”

Zechariah 8

This chapter is a picture of the ultimate state of the kingdom of God, when God brings His final and fullest blessings on His people. RSB

13 “As you have been an object of cursing among the nations, O Judah and Israel, so will I save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.”

Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

(Sound familiar? See Mark 11.)

Luke 13:14, “Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

O bservation

Seems Jesus loved healing people, especially on the Sabbath… it really irritated the religious leaders! They didn’t have compassion or understand the true purpose of the Sabbath.

A pplication

As western-Christian-Gentiles, it’s not easy for us to fully understand the Sabbath and its significance.

Keep in mind, in the Old Testament, the keeping of the Sabbath was critical. One could be stoned to death for not “keeping” the Sabbath! (See Numbers 15.)

Just like when the priests asked Zechariah if they should continue fasting… They had missed the point. Why were they fasting? Was it a ritual? Or did it have meaning and purpose?

Jesus was amazing at getting to the heart of a matter. His comparison of healing to letting your ox or donkey out to get water… unbinding them… setting them free. He said there was no difference.

Again, it sounds ludicrous to us, because we are not bound by the Sabbath as they were. But the principles still apply. It is still easy to become religious and miss the point. God desires mercy, not sacrifice and obedience is better than sacrifice. Love God. Love your neighbor.

I hope I never become like the Pharisees, hardened to my own shortcomings and yet, really good at pointing out other people’s. Binding up burdens and laying them on people’s backs and not being willing to lift a finger to help them. They “washed the outside of the cup” but “the inside of their cups was filthy.”

It’s pretty easy to put on a show. To put on my best Christian face. To say all the right things. To give the appearance of having it all together when, in reality, we could be falling apart.

I guess that would still be better than the Pharisees who didn’t even try. They were blinded by their own pious attitudes… confident of their own righteousness. And missing the point every step along the way.

It’s funny, I’m not sure it’s really any easier to live under grace than the law…

At some level, we all default to, “It’s ok… God will forgive me.”

Fill in the blank yourself as to what the “it” is.

Honestly, in recent weeks, I’ve had a hard time staying motivated to write this blog. I really want to do it well… not just do it because I have to, or because it’s expected. And I don’t want to see it as “being obedient” and thinking that is good enough. I really want to give it my best every day.

I have found myself extremely tired of hearing about Israel and Judah and all their ups and downs, disobedience and turning away. Slavery and exile.

Then God restoring them… again. I mean that’s great news, but following their 1,500 year roller coaster ride hasn’t been easy for me, personally.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that God keeps his covenant! And that he forgives and restores!

We all need that. I need that!

We have all been at this now for 273 days. Fewer than 100 days left on our journey!

I am determined to finish strong.

I just wanted you to know, if you have been struggling a bit to stay engaged or to keep up… so have I. I feel like I sound like a broken record…

By sharing my struggle with you, for me, it helps me to make sure that I am not simply cleaning the outside of the cup, while the inside is dirty. That was the issue. No transparency. Pretending they were better than they were.

If you don’t mind, I’d rather just keep it real.

P rayer

Lord, thank you for your word. That it gives life… I thank you that you speak to me regularly, daily as I do this journal. Help me to never lose sight of that you want relationship, not just obedience. It’s about spending time with you, not writing a blog.

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Day 272

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Welcome to Day 272 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Zechariah 4; Zechariah 5; Zechariah 6; Luke 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

Zechariah 4, “So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

Zechariah 5

The sixth vision concerns a flying scroll. It teaches that the Lord who loves and restores His people is also righteous and will punish wickedness. This vision and the one to follow are warnings, but also encouragements that God will deal with the problem of sin in the land. RSB

Zechariah 6

Notice the parallel between Zechariah 6 and Revelation 6? (The imagery of the horses.) Not necessarily the same vision or event, just an observation.)

15 “This will happen if you diligently obey the Lord your God.”

Luke 12:15, “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

32 “Do not be afraid… for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

O bservation

Some things only happen if we are obedient.

A pplication

One of my kids asked me one time, “If you didn’t marry mom, would I be here?”

That’s a pretty thought-provoking question, isn’t it?

I don’t think it’s a simple, “Yes” or “No” question and answer.

Perhaps they could be… the life God breathed into them, the spirit within, could be the same? Would they look the same? Would they be the same?

Probably not.

It’s funny how when you change the equation, even ever so slightly, that the outcome can change dramatically.

What if I had married someone other than Bonnie?

What if I had never moved to Cincinnati and met Doug?

What if we had only had two kids instead of four?

What if I had been caught with drugs in college?

What if, what if, what if…

What’s my point? How does it fit with today’s reading?

Even in my obedience, I’m pretty sure I have been obedient to my own good idea versus something that God had initiated and planned for me.

Or perhaps he gave me the idea in the first place?

I’m not given to pursuing deep thoughts like this very often. I’m not sure it’s productive… we can second-guess ourselves all day long.

Does God really care if I eat Frosted Flakes or Corn Pops? (Or should I only eat oat meal?)

Probably.

If that were the case, we should all be non-coffee-drinking-vegans without a television.

Probably.

Obedience is a funny thing… distinguishing God’s voice from my voice… being obedient to what I think he has told me to do can be a little tricky.

How about if we first become obedient to what is clearly spelled out in the Bible? Loving God, worshiping him. Loving my wife as Christ loves the church. Being responsible citizens, caring for our neighbors, displaying the fruit of the Spirit, avoiding the “works of the flesh.” (Both lists are mentioned in Galatians 5.)

I believe the rest will work itself out as we do that…

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105.

P rayer

Lord I trust that you are leading me… I don’t always know what it means to walk in the Spirit, but I know you are always with me, wherever I am walking…

But I want to walk where you want me to go…

Day 271

Friday, September 28, 2012

Welcome to Day 271 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Zechariah 1; Zechariah 2; Zechariah 3; Luke 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

Zechariah joined Haggai in rousing the people from their indifference, challenging them to resume the building of the temple. Haggai’s primary purpose was to rebuild the temple; his preaching has a tone of rebuke for the people’s indifference, sin, and lack of trust in God. He was used to start the revival, while Zechariah was used to keep it going strong with a more positive emphasis, calling the people to repentance and reassuring them regarding future blessings. gty.org

Zechariah 1:3, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’”

Zechariah 2:10, “‘Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,’ declares the Lord.”

Zechariah 3:4b, “Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.'”

Luke 11:11, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit [some translations say, “good gifts”] to those who ask him!”

O bservation

God wants to heal and restore us, and give us good gifts!

A pplication

I once heard one of our pastors, Marc Dupont, tell a story about how God wants to give us ice cream. If I recall the story correctly, the gist if it is that broccoli is better for our kids, but it’s more fun to watch them eat ice cream! I want to take my kids out for ice cream, because they enjoy it…

… and I enjoy watching them enjoy it!

God wants to give us good gifts, but at times I think he is only interested in providing for my “needs.”

Broccoli.

But he wants me to have ice cream, too!

It’s so easy to slip into a mindset that God is angry and ready to inflict punishment, versus wanting to give us good gifts, or the Holy Spirit to us. Like he is withholding from us until we are “good enough.”

If that were the case, it would never happen. I may sin less, but I will never be “good enough” or deserving of much of what he has for me.

Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

New every morning…

New every morning!

New EVERY morning!!

Like today! Right now, sitting on my couch at 6:44 AM, his mercies are new. For me… and, for you!

Just as for the Israelites… whose history was certainly an up and down roller coaster ride of drawing near, then drifting (or turning) away from him. God never stopped pursuing them, or reneged on his covenant with them.

Not even during their exile… Their captivity lasted 70 years… For them, in their lifetime, that must have felt like an eternity… but in comparison to their 400 years of slavery?

I often wonder, as I’m sure you do too, about things like that. Why would a good God allow his people to be enslaved or to be conquered??

Well, it certainly wasn’t in his plan. All he has ever wanted was a people who would love, trust and follow him.

But they would not. They turned away, repeatedly…

And he would draw them back.

Again, and again, and again.

The same is true for us. If there is space between me and him, it is never on his end. It’s always because I have allowed, or put that space there.

And his mercies are new every morning.

Every morning!

EVERY morning!!

P rayer

Thank you Lord that your mercies are new for me today!

Day 270

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Welcome to Day 270 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Haggai 1; Haggai 2; Psalms 129; Luke 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

Sixteen years has now passed since the “stop work” decree was issued. The time has now come to rebuild the temple…

Haggai 1:13, “Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: ‘I am with you,’ declares the Lord.”

Haggai 2:9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

21 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. 8

‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty.

I will shake the heavens and the earth. 22 I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms.”

Psalms 129:4, “But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”

Luke 10:36, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him,

“Go and do likewise.”

O bservation

“Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: ‘I am with you,’ declares the Lord.”

A pplication

“I am with you.”

They needed a prophet to tell them that?

Apparently so…

(I am so thankful that I don’t need a prophet to tell me that! Aren’t you??)

Although it is a nice reminder…

Jesus made the same statement to his disciples in Matthew 28 at the end of the Great Commission, “Surely (or “Lo”) I am with you… always…”

Always…

Period.

Hebrews 13:5 states, quoting Deuteronomy 31, “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.” (God declared this to Joshua…)

I will often say, “I never have to wonder where he is… his promise is he will be with me.”

His name, Immanuel (or Emmanuel) literally means, “God with us.”

Psalm 23 ends with, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”

Goodness… and mercy.

Which was the neighbor to the Samaritan? The one who had… mercy.

Goodness… and mercy.

God is good. His presence is good. He is good, and he is merciful.

I’ve heard it said,

“Mercy is not getting what we deserve.

Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.”

We deserve punishment, but He gives us grace. Grace, what we don’t deserve, is unmerited favor.

Favor.

“I am with you.”

I am so thankful!

P rayer

Lord, I thank you that you are with me, always! Period!

Day 269

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Welcome to Day 269 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezra 4; Psalms 113; Psalms 127; Luke 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

Ezra 4:4, “Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid… (to go on building.)”

21 [From King Artaxerxes] “Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order.”

Psalm 113:2, “Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. 3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.”

Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.”

Luke 9:18, “Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” 19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

20 “‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘The Christ of God.'”

O bservation

Two observations… One very practical that ties in to yesterday’s reading from Ezra… and how their own people responded to the laying of the foundation of the temple. Today, opposition comes from the outside, too!

And, Peter’s amazing confession and recognition that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah).

A pplication

I think I made enough of a point yesterday about how people see things differently, even when something good is happening. It’s hard enough to have outside opposition, but when opposition comes from within, makes life even more difficult… doesn’t it?

Then we have Peter’s confession and recognition of Jesus being the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world…

Peter was just a common guy… a fisherman. Not highly educated like the Pharisees, Sadducees or Teachers of the Law. Or even like Paul, one of the most educated men of his day. He referred to himself as a Pharisee… “The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee.”

9 “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison,  and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme.”

As Paul went on making his defense and giving his testimony of how he came to faith in Christ, King Agrippa interrupted him and said, “Your great learning is driving you insane!”

But Peter was just a fisherman… who saw too much. Knew too much. Knew enough to know about the Messiah and how to recognize him.

Many people today still reject Christ. Who he was and is…

The Christ. The Messiah. The Savior of the world.

I am so thankful that at a young age I recognized who Jesus was. Never underestimate the faith of a child… It’s pure… simple.

As was Peter’s.

Even then, Peter denied Jesus out of fear for his life…

But that didn’t stop him. Judas betrayed Jesus and hung himself. Peter denied Jesus, yet went on to preach on the day of Pentecost to thousands of people. Three thousand of them became believers in Christ.

Peter, a simple guy… a fisherman who became a fisher of men. Then, just few chapters later…

Acts 4:5, “The rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them…”

Peter quoted a verse… “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.”

Made a powerful statement…

12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

And the result?

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that

they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Never underestimate the simplicity of that statement and verse… “They took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Paul had his own encounter with Jesus… one on one on the road to Damascus… that led him to the conclusion that Jesus was the Christ.

Each one of us must come to our own conclusion…

All those around us must do the same.

P rayer

Thank you Lord that you are not playing hide and seek with us… but you are right here with us, revealing yourself!

Day 268

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Welcome to Day 268 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezra 2; Ezra 3; Luke 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

Ezra 2:1, “Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles.”

65 “The whole company numbered 42,360, 65 besides their 7,337 menservants and maidservants; and they also had 200 men and women singers. 66 They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 67 435 camels and 6,720 donkeys.”

Ezra 3:11b, “And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.”

Luke 8:10, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you.”

19 “Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ 21 He replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.'”

25 “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

O bservation

It’s amazing how people can see the same event differently. At the laying of the foundation for the new temple, some wept out of sadness, others wept tears of joy… Age and perspective?

A pplication

Most days it’s hard for me to pick just ONE point that jumped out at me. Especially in Luke… (See above.)

But what really stood out to me was how differently people responded to the laying of the foundation for the new temple.

I’m sure those who were older, having the benefit of remembering how things “used to be” saw how far Israel had fallen… Whereas the younger ones, who perhaps were raised in exile in Babylon were just excited to be free and able to establish worship again.

No matter what we do in life, people will always have their own perspective on things. We all process events, even words, through our own grid of experience and understanding… and brokenness.

Even with feeding 1,000 households every month, there are those who think we should feed every family that walks through the doors of our pantry. It’s just not possible. (Our Beavercreek pantry is for anyone who lives in Greene County, OH and some bordering zip codes in Montgomery County.) The early Apostles had the same issues with the distribution of food to their widows… See Acts 6.

I know this, we can’t feed everyone, but we try really hard, and do the best we can. No matter what we do, we will always be outnumbered by the poor. Jesus said, “You will always have the poor with you.” And it’s not just “the poor.” It’s hardworking families just trying to make ends meet. The need is huge these days…

We have a pretty good system of referrals, but people hear that we have good food and nice, helpful people at our pantry. It’s how we treat people that matters…

Even more than what’s in the bag.

P rayer

Thank you for your generosity in our lives… for your provision! I thank you that I get to see you multiply food day after day after day!

 

Day 267

Monday, September 24, 2012

Welcome to Day 267 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezra 1; Psalms 84; Psalms 85; Luke 7 (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

Ezra historically reports the first two of three post-Exilic returns to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity. The first return (chapters 1–6) was under Zerubbabel and the second (chapters 7–10) was led by Ezra himself. gty.org.

Ezra 1:5, “Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.”

Psalm 84:1, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.”

(One of the great worship songs of our time comes straight from these verses! “Better is One Day.” I like the Kutless version a lot… Give it a listen!)

12 O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.

Psalm 85:12, “The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.”

Luke 7:12, “As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” 14 Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.”

O bservation

Are you kidding me?? He raised a child back to life in the middle of a funeral procession? I bet that caused quite a stir! Can you imagine being there for that?

Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman certainly requires an honorable mention… What a great story…

A pplication

It’s funny how we can get so caught up in the dramatic events that Jesus did. Bill Johnson refers to some things as “signs that make you wonder.”

Obviously raising the dead is pretty cool. I hear stories of it happening in our day. Often in Africa, occasionally in the U.S. It’s easy to make that the goal. The mark of a truly powerful believer or ministry…

Just for the record, Jesus had the power to raise every person back to life. But he didn’t.

He did what he saw the Father doing… then occasionally, as in this instance, Jesus’ heart just went out to this mom who had lost her son. A grieving mom is a powerful image.

Leading people to Christ is another impressive benchmark often used to evaluate the fruit of a person’s life or ministry. They have led “thousands!” to the Lord. Billy Graham for instance.

And it is a great indicator.

But what about the faithful believer who goes to work every day. Or the mom who stays at home with the kids. Working hard. Praying for others quietly in secret. Loving their family. Known for their kindness. No fanfare. Not many “notches on their Bible.” Certainly they have never raised the dead!

But God sees them…

Give me a church full of people like that.

The fruit will come…

I do a lot of funerals, and I can tell you I pray for every person in a casket at some point… quietly, inviting them to come back to life. You never know!

(Did you know that more people came back to life at the moment of Jesus’ death on the cross, than he actually prayed for and raised from the dead??)

Matthew 27:50, “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”

Crazy stuff!

You never know…

P rayer

Lord thank you that with you, all things are possible!

Day 266

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Welcome to Day 266 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Daniel 11; Daniel 12; Luke 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

Daniel chapters 10-12 is a (another) prophecy of Israel’s humiliation and, of course, their restoration.

The prophet reveals a final vision concerning the future reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but looking beyond his reign to another that culminates at the end of the age. RSB

Daniel 11:31, “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. 32 With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.”

36 ““The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods.”

It is generally believed that these passages refer to the “Anti-Christ.” Jesus quoted from Daniel 11 in Matthew 24:15, ““So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’… spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand…”

With Jesus quoting this, it certainly took the timeframe from having anything to do with ancient Babylon to sometime in the future, past Jesus’ time. The big question is, is it in our future?

The prophet reveals a final vision concerning [possibly] the future reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but looking beyond his reign to another that culminates at the end of the age. RSB

Daniel 12:1, “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”

Much of Daniel 10 and 11 and events from the latter chapters of Revelation all line up with what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 24.

Luke 6:32, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

O bservation

Luke 6 is rich with wisdom and insight for us all…

A pplication

It’s easy to love those who love us. Not so much for those who don’t.

In one statement, Jesus sets the bar very high for how we are to treat our enemies (those who don’t like us? I don’t have too many enemies, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t like me…) “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”

Seriously?

What Jesus is saying is that we should not do business the same way as the world does. We should approach things differently.

It’s easy to ignore people. Cut them off emotionally. Distance ourselves from those who hurt us.

It’s difficult to bless those who curse you.

But that’s what we are called to.

OK, I get that… but we are also to lend, expecting nothing in return?

Yes.

Well, in very practical terms, if they hate us, revile us and curse us, why would I expect them to pay me back?

Because the issue isn’t them, it’s us. Me. How I treat others, how I respond when under pressure.

I can’t control you, I can only control me.

Controlling me is hard enough. Trust me on that. It takes a lot of work, a lot of self-control… It takes deciding I am going to treat others well, regardless of how they have treated me.

I find that when I love and accept people right where they are, they often respond differently. Of course there are those who paint me with the stereotypical pastor-brush, that I’m judgmental, narrow-minded, etc…

But love covers a multitude of sins.

And Jesus is not calling us to be foolish… in fact, he said to manage our expectations! “By the way, they won’t pay you back when you do this. Do it anyway.”

When you invest in others, love them unconditionally, be available to them, they will respond differently.

It’s when we stand in judgment that they go, “See. I told ya.”

I have blogged many times this past year about this topic… how Jesus spent time with the tax collectors and “sinners.” They loved him!

It was the religious leaders that hated him. After he healed a man on the Sabbath, that’s when they began plotting to kill him!

Great.

Luke 6:22, “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”

The flip-side of this concept is this found in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

No matter what we do in this life for the Kingdom, these will be the two results. No getting around it.

Some will hate us for it.

Others will praise (glorify) our Father in heaven.

P rayer

Lord help me to respond in kindness when others seek to harm me…

 

 

Day 265

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Welcome to Day 265 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Daniel 9; Daniel 10; Psalms 123; Luke 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

Daniel 9:9, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets.”

18b “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”

Daniel 10:12, “Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.'”

Psalm 123:1, “I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven.”

Luke 5:10, (After the large catch of fish) “Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”

31 “Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

O bservation

Every time I read a verse like Luke 5:31 I am again taken aback…

A pplication

God is for the lost and shows great mercy. I love that Jesus spent time with regular people. Tax collectors and sinners loved Jesus, because he loved them. Right where they were at. Unlike the Pharisees, Sadducees and Teachers of the Law… who were self-righteous and looked down on everyone around them. Luke 18:9 He told a parable of a Pharisee and tax collector… And who went home justified?

Even in Daniel 9 and throughout the Old Testament, God’s mercy is highly regarded.

I love how Daniel said, “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”

Wow.

That is an amazing, healthy perspective. Amazing how the angel recognized Daniel’s humility!

We don’t have to walk around beating our chests, begging for God’s mercy… he has already given it to us! We are already forgiven!

We just need to walk in humility and to recognize God’s mercy along the way and thank him for it!

And to go a step further, to tell others of that great love and mercy and to show it to those around us… rather than looking down on those who need it most.

Amen.

P rayer

Lord, thank you for your great mercy. Help me to always show mercy, compassion, kindness and love to those around me. To never look down on those who don’t know you…

Day 264

Friday, September 21, 2012

Welcome to Day 264 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Daniel 7; Daniel 8; Psalms 137; Luke 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

Daniel 7: 15 “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me.”

Here is a pretty incredible analysis and interpretation of this chapter on Bible.org. CLICK HERE.

Daniel 8:1, “In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. 27 “I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.”

Interesting side note… Daniel resumed writing in Hebrew for the last five chapters. He used Aramaic in 2:4 to 7:28.

Pretty cool that Daniel sees the vision, then is given the interpretation… so we are not left wondering.

Psalms 137:1. “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.

Notice the direct correlation between the exile to Babylon and this Psalm?

Luke 4:3, “The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.'”

Funny, the devil knew he was the Son of God, yet he still questioned Jesus…

O bservation

Some prophetic visions or words seem to leave us wondering, and some answer questions.

A pplication

“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

Jesus said, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.”

Brings to mind the saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

Even with all the miracles. Even with His amazing teaching… the drove him out of town.

Why would it be any different for any of us? For you or me?

Our families may not be supportive of our relationship with Christ. They may even belittle you for attempting to do something big for God. For even wanting to pray over a meal.

In my case, many years ago one of my family members asked, “What business do you have starting a church?”

My response? I never claimed I had any business starting a church…

I had no formal eduction to support it.

And my past, which wasn’t all that great, wasn’t that far in the past… just a few short years.

My family knew it. My friends knew it. I knew it.

It’s funny though… now looking back, none of that matters much.

Jesus said, “You know a tree by its fruit.”

We didn’t need hundreds of people to feel validated or to prove anything to anyone. We were just trying to be faithful to what we felt God was calling us to do. Or maybe more accurately in my case, be faithful to what I had agreed to do.

We had under 100 people for the first five years, yet it didn’t really matter. We were extending the Kingdom, feeding the hungry, reaching out to the community. Offering practical, life application Bible teaching, a meaningful worship experience…

Pretty much what we are still doing today.

Gathering 2,000 people doesn’t really validate our work any more than the first 100.

But what it does do, is gives us more resources to do more good in our city. To extend the Kingdom that much more.

I am so thankful for all that we have gotten to do and be a part of. I am thankful every day, and I have never forgotten those early days, or the people who were there with us.

I remember one guy, “Joe” whose father had passed away. He inherited a coin collection, mostly silver dollars worth face value. He gave it as an offering to “help build the temple.”

I took it to a coin shop and cashed it all in for a few hundred dollars… and bought… worship equipment with the proceeds. Because in the end, God is seeking worshipers (John 4).

I remember all the staff who have come and gone. All the people… all the faces in the crowd. The countless people I have prayed for, had coffee with, led in worship or with whom I have shared the good news. Hundreds married… and buried. The tears of joy… and sadness.

I have learned a lot along the way…

Perhaps the biggest thing… It’s all because of His goodness and He gets all the glory for whatever perceived “success” we have enjoyed.

Paul had it right when he said, “Who is Paul? And who is Apollos?”

Nobody.

P rayer

Thank you Lord for your faithfulness to us over the years. You are so good!

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