OYB: January 2

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today's reading:
OT: Genesis 3, Genesis 4
NT: Matthew 2:13-23, Matthew 3
Ps: Psalm 2
Pr: Proverbs 1:7-9

The One Year Bible Blog asks:

Maybe it is verse 4 that really stands out to me about John - "John's clothes were woven from camel hair, and he wore a leather belt; his food was locusts and wild honey." I think this is really saying that John lived a simple life. He did not "major in minor things" - he "majored in the major thing" - Jesus! Is there something we can learn from John the Baptist in our lives today? Are we perhaps focusing too much on things of this world and not enough on God and Jesus? Are we truly loving God and loving people like John did? Or are we spending our life "majoring in minor things"? Will we instead "major on the major thing" that John is calling us to even today - complete passion and love for God, Jesus, and other people?

I think it's a matter of perspective. John the Baptist had an eternal, rather than temporal, perspective - the same perspective to which we Christians today are called. I don't think it coincidental that most of the Old Testament prophets were idiosynchratic with respect to the culture of the day. That such people were outwardly set apart from their contemporaries was also indicative of an inward attitude of being set apart for God. The same was true for John the Baptist, and the same can still be found to be true today. (And I don't just say that because I'm a strange character myself. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

I think John the Baptist exemplified what Jesus later taught, that our God, who feeds the birds and clothes the plants, will provide. The less we concern ourselves with the details of what God has already promised to provide for us, the more we can devote ourselves to discerning and fulfilling the amazing purpose God has for our lives. The less we concern ourselves with what others think of us, the more we can devote to pleasing and glorifying our Creator.

I read that Proverbs chapter 1 verse 7 is basically the foundational mission statement for the entire book of Proverbs. So, I guess we ought to pay attention to this one! "Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline." What does this proverb say to you? Do you believe we should fear God? Zondervan's NIV Study Bible defines this fear of God as "a loving reverence for God that includes submission to his Lordship and to the commands of his words." Do you believe that fear of God is the beginning of knowledge in our lives? Will you embrace wisdom and discipline in your life? Will you make wisdom and discipline top priorities in your life in this new year of 2006?

I think the Zondervan definition of fear is pretty appropriate. Unless we know who God is, respect his holiness, and understand how utterly lost we are on our own, we will have no desire for the knowledge He wants to give us: knowledge of how to be reconciled to him, and how to live the life He would have us live: purposeful, prosperous, and abundant - zoe life. To the fool, "ignorance is bliss." Not knowing the nature nor the inevitable outcome of one's life may allow one to live a life free of guilt, but, as this verse tells us, such a path is truly a fool's errand.

OYB: January 1

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today's reading:
OT: Genesis 1, Genesis 2
NT: Matthew 1, Matthew 2:1-12
Ps: Psalm 1
Pr: Proverbs 1:1-6

The One Year Bible Blog asks several questions today:

Today we read this in Genesis chapter 1 verse 27 - "So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them." Do you believe that you are made in the image of God? Is this a powerful thing to reflect upon? What might this mean for your life in 2006, knowing that you are made in the image of God? Does this give you a sense of possibility for your life? A sense that you are made for a great purpose in this life?

Am I made in the image of God? The Bible says it; I believe it. But what, really, does that mean? God clearly created humans uniquely from the rest of all creation - spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I believe, at its most foundational meaning, that we are created in the spiritual image of God - something we will not fully grasp until Christ returns, and we are transformed in the image of our glorified Lord. It is that spiritual likeness that enables our reconciliation and relationship with God, when we are made a new creation in Christ, and are given His spirit. That idea, alone, is a powerful thing upon which to reflect; however, I believe our likeness with God is not limited to our spiritual nature.

God has created us uniquely intelligent, self-aware, and willful - all aspects of His character. We have the ability to love as God loves, and we seek out purpose for our lives and - whether or not we recognize it - we seek out our ultimate purpose: relationship with our Creator.

What does this knowledge mean for my life in 2006? Does it give me a sense of possibility and purpose? Absolutely it gives me a sense of possibility and meaning. It means that I must recognize that each day is a gift and privilege, and that I must make the most of every opportunity. I have never doubted that I was created for a purpose, that God formed me with a plan for my life, and that it is up to me to rely on God working in and through me in order to accomplish that purpose. And never before has God's purpose for my life been more clear that it is at the commencement of 2006.

God has brought a beautiful woman and a precious child into my life. He has placed me in a body of believers with an amazing vision for uniting our city for Christ. He has placed me in an occupation in which I can be a light, shining the example of Christ in me, in my work ethic, my integrity, and my attitude.

Today we read this reflection on the godly in Psalm 1 verse 2 - "But they delight in doing everything the LORD wants; day and night they think about his law." How well does this verse ring true with your life today? Do you delight in being obedient to God? Do you think about God's Word, the Bible, day and night? Should you? Will you?

Well now, this verse really gets right to the very heart of living a life of holiness. Do I intend to think about God's law day and night, in everything I do? I think I do. Am I successful? Of course not; I'm human. If I could, I would have no need for a savior. As it is, I am just another hypocrite: preaching one standard, and failing to live up to it. I think this realization is the reason Christians are called to humility, for it is only in our recognition of our own weaknesses and failures that we can allow the saving and transformational power of Christ to work in us.

I think that meeting the standard - keeping God's law on our hearts and in our minds, day and night, is a growth process. It requires preparation - reading, hearing, writing, speaking, and discussing the Word, in order for it to take root in us. It requires practice - consciously deciding to act according to that Word as we are presented with each decision in our lives. It requires patience - accepting that we are still human, and will still make mistakes (and even wrong decisions) despite our best intentions. It requires perseverance - realizing that with each decision, each time we submit our will to God's, we are building upon each previous decision, and allowing the Spirit to transform us into the likeness of Christ for which we were created, and to which we are called.

Today we read in Proverbs chapter 1 verses 2 through 4 a great overview of why we should read and study the Proverbs - "The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, and to help them understand wise sayings. Through these proverbs, people will receive instruction in discipline, good conduct, and doing what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will make the simpleminded clever. They will give knowledge and purpose to young people." Do you want wisdom? Do you want discipline in your life? Do you want to do what is right, just and fair? Do you want purpose for your life? Do you believe this journey through the Bible in 2006 will move you forward in these areas? Will you cling to the wisdom of the Proverbs this year?

Yes, please, and all the more! Wisdom and discipline: these virtues are the cornerstone of a life of integrity. They are prerequisites to fulfilling a life of purpose. May the Lord help me build the discipline to stay with this study throughout the year, and give me the strength to cling to the Word each day.

One Year Bible Blogging

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Last year, I started reading the One Year Bible mid-way through the year. I finished the year with reasonable success, but want to be even more persistent this year. I would also like to use the blog as an avenue to comment on what I read each day. So, for each day, I'll include the referenced Scripture readings, and any thoughts or comments I have on what I read.

I will also try to participate in the One Year Bible Blog discussions related to the daily readings.

And, I know, I'm starting a day late; all the more reason to use the blog to hold me accountable. ๐Ÿ™‚

An Inspiring Witness

Filed in Religion, SportsTags: Christianity, Colts, Indiana, Indianapolis, NFL

The Colts' 17-13 JV win over Arizona was meaningless in the Super Bowl hunt, but for the mostly backup players on the field, it meant a great deal. Hunter the Punter eloquently describes the sentiment:

"Coach Dungy has a heart that beats in all these players,'' punter Hunter Smith said. "This game is about money and entertainment and all those things, but every once in a while, you come across a special person. His heart comes through in every part of his life. And now I see it coming through in us.''

That Dungy is a man of faith is well-known, and it is the foundation of the near-universal respect he garners. But it is in times of trouble that one's faith truly becomes both a source of sustaining strength and an inspiring witness. Tony Dungy's faith exemplifies both:

"There's a story in the Bible,'' Dungy said, speaking to a small group of reporters after his news conference. "David's son is sick, and they're praying for him. The whole time, he won't eat, won't do anything. The son ends up dying. What David says, basically, is 'I've got to go to temple and worship. I've got to get back to work.'

"Everybody asked him how he could do that. And he said, 'Now that my son is in heaven, there's nothing I can do.' As Christians, we believe the future is in God's hands, and we have eternal life.

". . . More than anything, I had to make a statement that, if I'm a Christian, if I feel like God is in control of my future, I've got to move on, as tough as it is. My wife (Lauren) and I discussed it and (returning Thursday) was something we felt was necessary. We're still healing, but it's important to move forward."

At one point, he was asked how sorely his faith was tested.

He took a long pause.

"You always have those questions,'' Dungy said. "But I never felt like God dealt us a bad hand. I've heard from so many people and we're not the only ones who experienced the death of a child. . . . The Lord has a good plan for your wife and family, even if it doesn't seem like it now.''

Amen.