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 263

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Welcome to Day 263 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Daniel 5; Daniel 6; Psalms 130; Luke 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

Daniel 5:13, “the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom.”

“Then Daniel answered the king, ‘You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else.'”

Daniel 6:4, “The administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5 Finally these men said, ‘We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.'”

23 “The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”

26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. 27 He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Psalms 130:3, “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness.”

Luke 3:10, “What should we do then?”

O bservation

What a great question, “What should we do then?” (In response to the Good News, the message of the Kingdom that John the Baptist was sharing.)

“The administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so.”

A pplication

The point of the SOAP exercise is to find the nugget that God is speaking to me (you, in your case)…

When I did my journal in private, I would do that… find the one thing that stood out. Often times, though, in doing this exercise for myself, yet posting it on the web, I reach a little further, in that there are several passages each day that one might draw from.

I tend to notice and look for the common denominator in the texts.

Sometimes it’s obvious, as we looked at passages from Kings and Chronicles that basically recorded the same events in separate books. (Keep in mind the Bible is a collection of 66 books under one cover.)

Today, however, I noticed how John the Baptist answered people’s question, “What should we do?”

He told the tax collectors, “Don’t collect any more than you are required to.”

To the soldiers he replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

I noted that when they accused Daniel, they could find no corruption in him because, “he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”

That’s basically what John the Baptist was saying… Be trustworthy, don’t be corrupt or negligent in your duties… whatever they may be. This was true for soldiers and tax collectors alike.

Regardless of what our lot in life is, this would be a great goal: Don’t collect any more than you are required to. Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay. Be trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

1 Timothy 3:2 says, “Now the overseer must be above reproach…” (It goes on to include, “the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.”)

This is basically what John the Baptist is calling people to. Honesty. Integrity. Sharing our resources with others…

Those are the fruit of repentance.

We are not called to perfection… But it is a high calling to which we have been called.

The average person (who is not a Christian) may not understand the bumper sticker, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” I know what it means, so do you, but others? Not so much.

It sounds like a license to do whatever we want. Then all we have to do is ask for forgiveness?

That’s true to an extent, but the price Jesus paid on the cross was a high price.

We should be different. We should treat others differently, conduct business differently.

I often use the “high jump” as an example… setting the bar higher and higher and higher for ourselves and those around us…

… until we fail on the last attempt.

That always happens with high jumping…

You always fail on your last attempt.

(The Pharisees, Sadducees and Teachers of the Law were known for putting burdens on people’s backs and not being willing to lift a finger to help them. They set the bar higher for those around them, but lowered it for themselves! See Matthew 23.)

But if we walk in grace… and it’s not easy… because we can be viewed as being “soft on sin” (and trust me, we have been accused of that…)

We are not “soft” on sin, just big on grace! Sometimes sin has to be confronted… in my life or others… But it’s how we approach it that matters most.

It really is a fine line to walk… being gracious, yet striving for integrity… saying no to sin, making good decisions.

I find a little humility and transparency goes a long way to not coming across as perfect or “holier than thou.” Just being real, not pretending we are better than we are, not hiding our sin, but not spreading it around either or making excuses for it.

Everyone around us knows we are not perfect, so why try to come across as though we are?

Just be yourself. And be honest. Trust in the Lord “continually” as Daniel did. He was known for it.

Wouldn’t it be great to be known for that as Daniel was by those around him?

P rayer

Lord help me to live with integrity as Daniel did…

Day 262

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Welcome to Day 262 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezekiel 47; Ezekiel 48; Luke 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

Ezekiel 47 and 48 are a description of future lands.

Ezekiel 47:3, “As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4 He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. 5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. 6 He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”

(The Message translation says, “Have you had a good look?”)

Ezekiel 48:35, “And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE.”

Luke 2:9, “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

O bservation

More angelic visitations… “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

A pplication

When I was out at Bethel church last year (not for the School of Worship) at the Leaders Advance, they offered us a prophetic prayer time. What that meant was a team of three people was going to pray for me. Two 20-somethings and a younger teen.

They took turns praying, sharing what they were seeing and sensing. One of them shared these verses out of Ezekiel 47, where the water got deeper the further it was from the temple. They said, “You are like the river that flows from the temple… the further from the temple, the deeper it gets.”

The Nile River in Egypt. Its widest point is 5 miles!

Then they gave an interpretation that I would be even more effective doing ministry outside the four walls of the church.

(They of course had no idea that I am Executive Director of The Hope Foundation of Greater Dayton, or that I admin a page on Facebook called, “I Love Dayton!“)

Both are efforts I have been involved in to reach out to the community, outside the church.

But the word also made me nervous… the water was only ankle-deep at the Temple, yet 3,000 cubits (a cubit is about 18”) away (just shy of a mile) it was deep enough to swim in and so wide it was unable to be crossed.

Still chewing on that one… (Hoping the Lord doesn’t see me as shallow!)

I think it has to do with effectiveness and calling. That He has uniquely gifted me to reach out to the community, beyond “outreaches” that we do at church.

It’s funny, I have a reputation of knowing “everyone.” I do know a lot of people, that’s for sure. And I am known by even more.

What is interesting about all this is that several years ago I felt like I wasn’t “part” of the community at large, Beavercreek, Dayton or otherwise. My life had been centered around our church and I felt the need to reach out as a member of the community, not as a pastor.

Last Friday, The Hope Foundation sponsored a New Media Dayton meeting (I am on the Board of NMD). A friend of mine from the Dayton community was doing the welcome and announcements, mentioning the sponsors, etc and she said, “Thanks to the Hope Foundation… there’s Scott… Get to know Scott. He knows everyone. They feed thousands of people every month in Greene and Montgomery Counties. He also admins a page on Facebook called I Love Dayton! He really does love Dayton.”

At that moment I knew I was hitting the mark…

She didn’t have to say any of that.

She sits on several Boards and has been involved in the Dayton community for many, many years.

I know the metaphor is not that I am shallow… but it’s where the river starts and flows from. Obviously the temple represents God’s presence, His throne… (as we just read in Revelation.)

All of who I am, and what I do, is motivated by my relationship with Him. Any favor I enjoy in our city is because of Him. My talents are given to me by Him. I serve Him.

“‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.'”

That is such a healthy, amazing perspective.

I am the Lord’s servant.

May it be to me as you have said.

P rayer

Lord, I am your servant. May it be to me as you have said.

Day 261

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Welcome to Day 261 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezekiel 45; Ezekiel 46; Luke 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

Ezekiel 45, regulations for the priests of the Lord who will serve, a call for honesty in weights and measures.

Ezekiel 46, regulations for the sacrifices and sacred days.

Note the similarities between Ezekiel’s vision of the temple and all the specifics in comparison to Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Numbers, etc…

Luke 1

Yes, we already read Luke earlier this year. Someone approached me over this past weekend and asked me about this…

The Life Journal reading plan is designed to take us through the Old Testament once and the New Testament TWICE. (I also noted that we will again be reading Revelation the last few weeks of December.)

Luke 1:30, “The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

O bservation

What an amazing promise given to Mary… by an angel.

Funny, when Zechariah questions the angel that appeared to him, the angel says, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God. Since you don’t believe me, you will no longer be able to speak.”

Oops…

(Why do I hear Gabriel in Robert De Niro’s voice saying, “Are you talkin’ to me??”)

A pplication

I’m not sure what I would do or say if an angel, I mean a real angel, not a vision… but a real angel showed up and talked to me as they did with Mary and Zechariah, and subsequently to Joseph.

I’m sure I would have a lot of questions, too. Wouldn’t you??

Angel encounters all throughout the Bible are met with amazement and questions. And fear. In most cases, the angel would greet them by saying, “Do not be afraid.”

First, don’t be afraid. Second, I have something to tell you…

Crazy stuff.

It’s not unusual for people to come up to me and tell me they saw an angel near me… or they tell me they saw angels in our service during worship standing, keeping watch, or moving among us.

But I have never seen an angel like this. An unmistakable appearance… including a specific message.

Not that I’m in a big hurry to have this encounter, mind you…

After theirs, Zechariah couldn’t speak until Elizabeth gave birth. And Mary became pregnant.

I’m not crazy about either of those possibilities.

But notice, something is being birthed, literally and figuratively in their lives.

I’m turning 50 this year… I can’t imagine being told that Bonnie and I are going to have a baby. Of course, Elizabeth was barren up to this point… and they were past child-bearing years. Surprise! Blessing!

And Mary? Wow… a teenage, unwed mother.

In our culture today, 40% of babies are born to unwed mothers. Not so back then. This was a shameful experience for her. She had to “treasure all these things and ponder them in her heart,” just to get through. It would take a promise from an angel to endure the public scorn, and for Joseph to get the courage to go through with marrying her.

Now fast forward 30 years…

Elizabeth and Zechariah’s son, John… John the Baptist… Announcing the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Wow…

Jesus said that there was none greater born of a woman than John the Baptist, “Yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

That’s us. You and me. The “least in the kingdom of heaven…” (I would rather assume that I am among the least until he tells me otherwise. 🙂

We have been born into his kingdom, through our acceptance of Christ and the work he did on the cross.

We have been given a promise through his word that one day we will see him face to face. And we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 1 John 3:2.

Face to face.

Not with an angel, but with Jesus.

P rayer

I look forward to that day, when I will see you and know you as you know me.

Day 260

Monday, September 17, 2012

Welcome to Day 260 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezekiel 42; Ezekiel 43; Ezekiel 44; Revelation 22 (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

Thanks to Mark Long for posting this link that has an architectural depiction of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision! CLICK HERE to go to the web site.

Chapters 40-46 of Ezekiel could be outlined as “True worship returns in Israel.”

Ezekiel 42:14, “Once the priests enter the holy precincts, they are not to go into the outer court until they leave behind the garments in which they minister, for these are holy. They are to put on other clothes before they go near the places that are for the people.”

Ezekiel 43:4, “The glory of the Lord entered the temple…”

Ezekiel 44:23, “They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.”

Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

17 “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”

O bservation

After a terrible time of judgment upon the earth, a time of great peace… with a new heaven and a new earth. No more tears or crying or pain. God is with his people.

A pplication

I love this invitation… “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”

All are invited, “Whoever.”

An open invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

But you must have a ticket. The price of admission is our life, surrendered to Him. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9.

There is no other way. No other Savior.

I once had a guy tell me he didn’t want to be saved, he just wanted “some religion.”

He’s in for a big surprise someday…

“The free gift of the water of life…” flowing from the throne on which Jesus (and/or) the Father sits.

I want to partake of this water. To drink from it. To be washed clean by it.

Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4 that if she knew with whom she was talking, she would ask him and he would give her “living water.”

Out of us, he said, would flow “rivers of living water.” John 7:38.

Are you thirsty? Come and drink.

Do you need forgiveness? To be washed clean? Come and be cleansed.

… and out of you will flow rivers of living water!

P rayer

Thank you Lord for this invitation, available to all!

Day 259

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Welcome to Day 259 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezekiel 40; Ezekiel 41; Psalms 128; Revelation 21 (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

Ezekiel 40:4, “Look with your eyes and hear with your ears and pay attention to everything I am going to show you..”

Ezekiel 41, more temple measurements from Ezekiel’s vision.

Psalm 128:1, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. 2 You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.”

Revelation 21:3, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

6 “He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”

O bservation

Interesting that Ezekiel is given a vision of the new temple and John is given a vision of the New Jerusalem.

A pplication

“It is done.”

This same phrase was uttered on the cross, now again as the final scene in heaven plays out. A new heaven and a new earth! All things under his dominion. The New Jerusalem…

As important as the church is, make no mistake, Israel/Jerusalem is still the apple of his eye. His glorious bride, the church, is now included, but his everlasting covenant is with Israel. (Like an addendum to a contract, perhaps?)

Keep in mind, God sees two kinds of people. Jews and Gentiles. The circumcised of heart, and those not. Those who love and serve him, and those who don’t. Those who have accepted him (Christ), and those who have not.

Jesus talked an awful lot about “coming to his own and his own rejecting him.” He wept over Jerusalem. And his own rejected him… the religious leaders crucified him.

“It is done.”

Christ now (in Revelation) has renovated heaven and earth where he will rule and reign for a thousand years. With satan having been thrown into the lake of fire, there is no more tears, or crying or pain. All things will have been made right once again.

People often think of Jesus as the Lamb of God, forgetting that he is also the Lion of the Tribe of Judah!

The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!

“It is done.”

P rayer

Thank you Lord that we know how the story ends! Our enemy is defeated and you are on the throne!

Day 258

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Welcome to Day 258 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezekiel 38; Ezekiel 39; Psalms 145; Revelation 20 (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

Before his description of the future city of God, the prophet first describes the defeat and removal of its foes. Gog, the prince of Magog, sums up the final opposition to the kingdom and people of God. God comes as a divine warrior, fighting for His people and visiting an apocalyptic defeat on His foes, preparing the way for the vision of the renewed city (chapters 40–48). RSB

Ezekiel 38:23, “And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am theLord.”

Ezekiel 39:27, “When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. 28 Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. 29 I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

Psalms 145:10, “All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you. 11 They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might…”

Revelation 20 describes the climax of human history and the coming millennial reign of our Lord, Jesus Christ on earth following the devastating judgment of chapter 19.

This is the chapter that leads me to believe that Revelation is futuristic, not describing the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD or the fall of the Roman Empire, centuries ago.

4 “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”

O bservation

Armageddon then millennium. Clearly futuristic in that this battle has not happened yet.

A pplication

Here we go! We are now approaching the thousand-year reign of Christ in his kingdom on the earth. Nearing the culmination of all things in the next two chapters.

Imagine, a new heaven and a new earth, with Satan bound for a thousand years. Christ reigning and “we” reign with him!

But let’s not get too caught up in that, because we have not entered that time… yet.

We are here, now… called to extend his kingdom, not this coming kingdom that is the fulfillment of all things, but the preaching of the good news… of his coming kingdom!

The kingdom is now… and not yet. It is, yet it is not yet fulfilled, that is, by the coming of Christ.

The final three or four chapters of Revelation reveals the end of all things as we know it. A new heaven and a new earth! Christ reigning on earth after the final judgment of sin.

Wow!

As cool as that is, as exciting as that is to think about, again, we have a job to do, here, now.

P rayer

Lord, may we be faithful to extending your kingdom until such as time as the events of Revelation be fulfilled!

Day 257

Friday, September 14, 2012

Welcome to Day 257 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezekiel 36; Ezekiel 37; Psalms 110; Revelation 19 (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

Ezekiel 36:24, “I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.”

Ezekiel 37:3, “He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

10 “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.”

Psalm 110, “The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.”

Revelation 19, “But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.”

O bservation

Today is all about restoration, victory and life!

A pplication

How about this for a great promise?

“I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

Asking myself, “What moves me to follow his decrees and to be careful to keep his laws?”

That’s a very good question… and I’m not sure I can answer it in the next 30 minutes, really… I will have to really chew on that, and be gut level honest. But sitting here right now, I am just pondering that.

What is my motivation? Is it simply that he put his Spirit in me and that’s the result?

Maybe.

But plenty of people have his Spirit and choose to not follow his decrees or keep his laws, right?

I make a lot of decisions based upon my preferred outcome.

Let me explain, it starts (I think) with simply wanting to honor God. But then the practicalities kick in…

I also don’t do a lot of things, based upon the outcome I don’t want… Meaning, if you don’t want a DUI, don’t drink and drive, right?

Paul said, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11. I believe we all should be able to say that at some level. As Christians, we are all called to be an example, right?

So I don’t do a lot of things, simply for that reason.

And I do a lot of things for that reason… in worship, in going to the poor, in how I live, speak, etc…

The fruit of having his Spirit in us is, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” That is (or should be) the result of his spirit living in us. 

Fruit.

The bi-product of him giving us a heart of flesh and putting his Spirit in us!

Fruit.

What kind of fruit is being produced in my life?

Jesus said, “a good tree produces good fruit.” (And the opposite would also be true…)

You may look at your life and not see a lot of good fruit. You may see a valley of bones…

Can these bones live?

You bet they can!

P rayer

Lord, breathe life into the dead areas of my life! I want to produce good fruit…

Day 256

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Welcome to Day 256 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezekiel 33; Ezekiel 34; Ezekiel 35; Revelation 18 (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

Ezekiel 33:7, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel…”

11 “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.”

Ezekiel 34, “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd…”

31 “You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”

Ezekiel 35 is a prophecy against Edom.

Revelation 18

What is this chapter describing? If the date of the book suggested in the introduction is correct (spring, 70 A.D.) , and Jerusalem is indeed the “harlot”, then this chapter likely refers to the destruction by the Romans in August, 70 A.D. This would be in harmony with 17:16, where those who first supported the harlot eventually turned on her. So it was with Jerusalem, who depended upon the approval of the Roman authorities to persecute the church, and later became the object of Roman persecution herself. Very fitting is the depiction of Jerusalem as a harlot, for she who should have been a great spiritual city had become a great commercial center by virtue of the roads that passed through her between Europe, Asia and Africa. Her spiritual adultery was also manifested by rejecting the many prophets and apostles sent to her (cf. Mt 23:31-39 with Re 17:6; 18:20,24; 19:2). Mark A. Copeland.

17 “In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!”

O bservation

In today’s readings, there is a very clear warning to leaders about how to care for the people they are shepherding, preceded by a very clear warning to leaders about being faithful to the word God has given them.

Then, in Revelation we witness, in heaven, the demise of “Babylon,” whether past or future.

A pplication

I have been a student of Ezekiel 34 for more than 20 years. Doug has used this passage to exhort our pastoral staff to be vigilant in caring for the people God has entrusted to us.

We give it our best shot… while realizing we are still human.

I understand in some regard, I am a watchman in some regard… There can be a lot of pressure that goes with that.

I try to take my “calling” seriously, while not taking myself too seriously.

One of the standout verses (amongst the several passages above) is, “You have ruled them harshly and brutally.” I find that kindness and gentleness go a long way in caring for people.

I don’t think I have ever been brutal… But harsh? Occasionally… I have worked hard to take the sharp edges off of my words… but at times, especially when I am tired or angry, I know I can come across as harsh.

Along with that, I know I can be a little… “direct” at times, too. Ask me a direct question, you are likely to get a direct answer.

But I like what Doug says… “The truth was never meant to be a club.”

During this political season that is heating up, I see this all around me. Frankly, I’m tired of it already. Both sides fire missiles at each other… bending the truth to suit their message. My inbox fills with spam from both sides.

I recently had someone tell me that someone told them, “Scott’s too liberal.”

I literally laughed out loud! (So did they…)

I am about as conservative as anyone I know, but you may not know it because I am often silent on such matters. I have strong opinions on most things, but just because you give yours doesn’t mean I’m going to give you mine. I rarely feel obligated to say what I am thinking. (But silence may be perceived as agreement?)

1 Thessalonians 4:11 says, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders…”

And, Romans 14, in talking about a whole list of issues from eating meat sacrificed to idols to drinking wine, to which festivals to observe, Paul wrote, “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.”

Good advice.

I have friends on both sides of the aisle… and I don’t like the propaganda on either side.

It really bothers me when I hear people slam the president. I once heard someone say, “I don’t want that evil man coming to our city.” I was like, “Seriously??”

In yesterday’s reading from Daniel we saw how God removed Nebuchadnezzar’s power from him.  I believe God puts people in their positions.

I often hear people say, “I respect the position, but not the person.”

But I don’t see a lot of respect in our society today. I see a lot of walls being built.

I believe I can disagree with you and still be respectful.

I would rather build bridges than walls…

P rayer

Lord help me to not be brutal and harsh with those around me. Give me your heart, the heart of the Good Shepherd!

Day 255

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Welcome to Day 255 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Daniel 3; Daniel 4; Psalms 81; Revelation 17 (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 3:16, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

25 “He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

26 “So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for

no other god can save in this way.”

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.”

Daniel 4:28, “All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven…”

Psalm 81:13, “If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, 14 how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!”

Revelation 17

Many interpret “Babylon” as either Rome (with its pagan worship and persecution of Christians) or Jerusalem (with its rejection of the Messiah/Jesus. There is plenty of scripture in the Old Testament to support Jerusalem and the imagery of a prostitute. Jerusalem itself was destroyed in 70 A.D. by none other than… Rome.)

O bservation

Great passages in Daniel today! Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace… And a telling story of the prideful fall of Nebuchadnezzar. And, some incredible thoughtful imagery in Revelation!

A pplication

As for Nebuchadnezzar, ok, we get it, pride cometh before a fall. (Then he turns to the Lord!)

But the amazing story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace is an amazing testimony to faith and God’s faithfulness. But more than that is their determination to stay faithful to God by flat-out refusing to worship the image of gold.

They were “willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” Those are the words of Nebuchadnezzar himself!

The God we serve is able to save us from it, [the fiery furnace] and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But

even if he does not,

we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

I love the practicality of their faith. They spoke the truth, “our God is able to save us…” then covered their bases with “even if he doesn’t, we won’t bow down…”

I have mentioned many times the various results in scripture when one was thrown into prison… John the Baptist was beheaded, not rescued. Joseph spent time in prison, then interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and was promoted to Vice-Pharaoh. Peter was escorted out of prison by and angel. Paul and Silas were in prison when an earthquake occurred (as a result of their worship?), the prison doors flung open, but they stayed put and the prison guard took them to his house. (They prevented him from killing himself…)

Situations are no “one size fits all” are they? Just because we have faith, doesn’t mean we may experience our preferred outcome in any given situation.

“Our God is able to save us…”

“Even if he doesn’t…”

Peter was rescued from prison, but ultimately suffered crucifixion himself (some believe he was beheaded) but tradition records that Peter was crucified… and claimed he wasn’t worthy to die the same death as Jesus, and so was crucified upside down…

No matter, just noting that Peter could think, “Well, I was rescued from prison by an angel before, so he’ll come back for me now.” * buzzer

Wrong.

Then we get disappointed when God doesn’t do what or react the way we expect.

We should hang on to our faith “even if he doesn’t.”

He is still worthy!

He is still good!

He is still the Almighty!

“Our God is able!”

P rayer

Thank you Lord that I can trust you in any situation!

Day 254

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Welcome to Day 254 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Daniel 1; Daniel 2; Revelation 16 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

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

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

S cripture

Daniel 1, “Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”

Daniel 2:11, “What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.”

(Except Immanuel… “God with us!”)

“Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.”

37 “The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory.”

48 “Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men.”

Revelation 16

In this chapter the full outpouring of wrath upon the enemies of God is depicted. The seven angels with the seven bowls pour out “the seven last plagues” (15:1). Notice that these are not partial judgments, as with the seven trumpets described earlier (chapters. 8-11). In the pouring out of these plagues “the wrath of God is complete” (15:1).

9b “…but they refused to repent and glorify him.”

O bservation

There is quite a contrast today between Daniel and Revelation. Daniel is shown favor and is exalted to a high position… while in Revelation, God’s wrath is being poured out upon the earth.

A pplication

I love the story of Daniel. It’s a great picture of integrity in the most difficult of circumstances. It’s a great picture of God’s favor and mercy on a person’s life…

Daniel could have very easily just enjoyed the king’s food and wine, instead he stays true to his heart and desire to not defile himself. Then God gave him the interpretation of the king’s dream. (Remember Joseph in prison?)

(Even if you give an accurate interpretation of a dream to the king, if he doesn’t like it, you could be killed anyway!)

There are no guarantees in any situation as to how they will play out. John the Baptist was beheaded… Peter was escorted out of prison by an angel. Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and was exalted to the position of Vice Pharaoh.

But we can have hope that the Lord will free us, or give us the interpretation needed… or the strength to die well?

That’s really not the point of today’s readings… it’s about Daniel’s integrity, not wanting to defile himself and how one can maintain their integrity in the most difficult of circumstances. Although Daniel wasn’t in prison, per se, he was in captivity and forced into the king’s service. (Prep time alone was three years!)

I’m so glad to be in the book of Daniel and that the destruction of Jerusalem is now behind us, even though they are in captivity… We get to see how God deals with Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon.

P rayer

Lord, that I would have integrity like Daniel to stay true to you in difficult circumstances.

Post Navigation