One Year Bible

One Year Bi·ble (OYB): A Bible study program designed such that the reader completes the entire Bible in a one-year period, through daily readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. Posts in this category pertain to my observations and commentary from participating in the One Year Bible study program.

OYB: January 8

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 18:20-33, Genesis 19
NT: Matthew 6:25-34, Matthew 7:1-14
Ps: Psalm 8
Pr: Proverbs 2:6-15

Today´s notable verse:

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 good gifts to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:11 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

And I do think this is an important point before we read about Abraham's intercessory prayer to God - that for intercessory prayer really to have any standing before God, we need to be in right relationship with God. If we are being disobedient to God or being unrepentant of sins or bad habits that God wants us to give up, then I think our intercessory prayer for others loses its effectiveness. Check out James 5:16 (MSG) for this point - "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." Abraham was credited as righteous because of his faith (Genesis 15:6). Hence, his intercessory prayer was powerful and effective.

We have to be very careful how we word this point. I don't think that we can take James to mean that our disobedience or acts of unrighteousness make us unrighteous in God's sight, if we are truly credited as righteousness because of our faith. I think Scripture does support the point that if we are being disobedient or unrepentant, or are harboring unforgiveness, then our prayers will not be effecteve; however, they do not somehow nullify our righteousness, for it is found in faith in Christ, alone - not by works, lest any should boast.

I don't think Jesus is calling for us to walk around blissfully thinking everyone is perfect... but he is saying don't "condemn" others for their actions. God is the only true judge of anyone's actions. But, I think it is still okay for us to take note of how people act or behave. Remember that 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to - "Test everything." So, I do think it is okay (and even wise) to evaluate a person's character. Let me know your thoughts on this one in the Comments section below.

Good distinction. While we are commanded not to judge others - neither with respect to one's salvation nor his moral standing - we are also commanded to discern others' character. The key to the ability to walk this seemingly fine line is humility: Romans 12:3, Philippians 2:3. Consider also from today's reading: Matthew 7:3-5 - we are to be more concerned with our own sin ever to worry about the sin of others. Yet, we are still to recognize good and evil, and to distinguish between them. Perhaps this is the root of the old adage: Love the sinner, hate the sin?

In reference to Psalm 8:

Have you ever had the experience of nature, God’s creation, evangelizing you? When you are out in nature, do you offer up praise and thanks to God for his amazingly beautiful creation?

I am never closer to God, nor more at peace, than when I am alone, communing with God in His creation. It is at such times that I am awe-struck by the splendor, majesty, and beauty of His creation, and humbled by my own insignificance. I am reminded of my mission trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, this past summer. Each day, we spent time alone with God, and the pictures below are the view I had one morning during this devotional time:2005oaxaca_0782005oaxaca_077Roca Blanca Missions Base, Cacalote, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Destiny Church of St. Louis summer 2005 mission trip.
Photos © Chip Bennett; all rights reserved

Comments from you & Question of the Day - Back to Matthew chapter 7 verse 6 - "Don't give what is holy to unholy people. Don't give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you." I understand what is being said here - and I can think of specific instances in my life where this type of thing has happened. My question though for each of us is this - how do we show our friends, family, neighbors the love of God? Honestly, I have an evangelistic heart - but I don't think I really openly evangelize much. I love God so much - and it bums me out when I see my friends struggling with addictions - when it seems like they are seeking God. So - I don't think this verse 6 is referring to these types of situations - people seeking God in all the wrong places. I think we are called to somehow share the love of God with our hurting friends - with a hurting world. But - how do you do this? Do you pray for others? Do you give others books or Bibles? Do you send them spiritual emails? Do you invite them to church? Do you "preach the gospel at all times, and use words when only necessary?"

I think the way to show the lost the love of God is to love them the way that God loves them. The way to reach the lost is not merely to preach the Gospel, but to live the Gospel. Witness is not something we do as much is it is what we are. We are to live our lives in such a way that others recognize the difference, and praise God because of it (I Peter 2:12). To love others as God loves means taking an other-centered perspective, rather than a self-centered one. To live the Gospel means walking out I Corinthians 13 - no easy task, to be sure! In fact, without the working of the Spirit in our lives, it is impossible - which is why, I think, seeing it in our lives is exceptional.

OYB: January 7

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 16, Genesis 17, Genesis 18:1-19
NT: Matthew 6:1-24
Ps: Psalm 7
Pr: Proverbs 2:1-5

Today´s notable verse:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

I think when we give anonymously or pray for others quietly or fast privately, we are really worshipping God. We are in essence saying, "God I am doing these things because of who you are, how great you are, and to let you know how much I love you. I don't need to let anyone know about this act of worship between me and you. You knowing is more than enough." Now, I do think there are times for communal giving, praying and fasting - but I love that Jesus challenges us to make sure we find private ways to worship God and God only - and not to bring glory to ourselves through public praise.

You found the key: bringing glory to God, rather than ourselves, through our "acts of righteousness." When we do something with the intent to receive the praise of men, then we are stealing the praise and glory that rightly belong to God. The very purpose of our lives is to live in relationship with God and to bring Him glory. If our motive in doing something is to bring glory to ourselves, then we are placing ourselves before God, in violation of the First Commmandment. We may receivce our earthly glory, but what a pathetic substitue for hearing, "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"

Based on our Matthew 6 readings today about the Lord's Prayer, let me ask you this: How do you pray? Or, in how many different ways do you pray? Do you pray specific prayers regularly, like the Lord's Prayer? Do you keep a list of people by your bedside to pray for regularly? Do you pray through writing in a journal?

I pray in many ways, depending on the situation, my mood, and the leading of the Spirit. I pray out loud; I pray in silence; I pray in song; I pray in the written word; I pray alone; I pray with a friend or a small group of friends; I pray corporately, in worship services. I generally pray with words according to the leading of my heart, or of the Spirit. I rarely pray "rote" prayers - though, I'm beginning to see some of the beauty and simplicity in such prayers as the Lord's Prayer, or other liturgical prayers to which I have been introduced through attending denominational services. I have some situations in which I keep a list of people and prayer requests. I have used a prayer journal in the past, and would like to regain the habit. My most meaningful prayer time seems to be the silent, meditative prayers in which I simply wait on the Lord. These prayers require me to "shut down my mind" or "separate" myself from my thoughts - something generally very difficult for someone of my personality! But, I think that is why this type of prayer is so meaningful; it is a sacrifice for the purpose of honoring God and an act of "dying to self" in order to hear from Him.

OYB: January 6

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today's reading:

OT: Genesis 13:5-18, Genesis 14, Genesis 15

NT: Matthew 5:27-48

Ps: Psalm 6

Pr: Proverbs 1:29-33

Today's notable verse:

Bit I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain onthe righteous and the unrighteous.

Matthew 5:44-45 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

In verses 17 through 20 in chapter 14 we read about Melchizedek. And I definitely would like to get others opinions on this - Who was Melchizedek? The reason I ask this question is due to Hebrews Chapter 7...I guess my thinking currently is that Melchizedek was a very great priest - but I'm not sure he was Jesus Christ preincarnate? But, again, I'm willing to listen to others on your thoughts on this. My thoughts on this is that Hebrews 7 seems to be saying that Jesus is "like" or "in the order" of Melchizedek - but not quite saying Jesus is Melchizedek. I read there are 4 basic theories on who Melchizedek is - 1. simply a king of Salem and Abram was showing him respect, 2. Melchizedek was a standard title for the kings of Salem. 3. He was a "type of Christ" and he illustrates a lesson about Christ. or 4. He was Jesus preincarnate in a temporary body form. So - whaddya think?

"in the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 6:20 NIV) - or more literally, "according to the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 6:20 NASB). The Hebrew word translated as "in" or "according to" is kata, which means, "down, against, according to." The Hebrew word translated as "order" is taxis, which means "an arranging, order" and derivates from the root tasso which means "to draw up in order, arrange." Thus, the Scripture is not referring to "order" as a group (religious order, or group) but as an arranging (order of events) or type (similarity). Hebrews indicates that Melchizedek symbolized and foreshadowed several things about the Christ, including (regurgitating liberally from my BSF homework of a few weeks ago):

  • Both are King of Salem (Jerusalem) - which means "king of peace"
  • Both are a priest of God Most High
  • Melchizedek means "king of righteousness"
  • Both are without beginning of days or end of life
  • Both remain a priest forever
  • Both blessed Abraham
  • Abraham tithed (gave 10 percent to) Melchizedek, establishing the tithe to Christ

Clearly, Mehchizedek was both King of Salem and a Prist of God Most High (Scripture tells us this much). The Bible tells us little of Salem at this time. Perhaps Salem was ruled by Priests; perhaps Melchizedek was extraordinary in that he was a Priest King. Perhaps "Melchizedek" was the title for "King of Salem", but I don't consider this point consequential, since this passage clearly refers to a specific person, and Hebrews 7 refers to this same passage and person. I don't, however, think that Scripture supports the theory that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate Christ. Would a pre-incarnate Christ offer blessings to Himself?

and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most Hight, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand."

Genesis 14:19-20 (NIV)

Certainly, part of the role of the Levitical (Old Testament) priesthood was to offer blessings to God; however, New Testament priesthood is completely different from Old Testament priesthood (this point being the entire reason for this particular passage in Hebrews). The work of the Old Testament High Priest was imperfect, incomplete, and continual. The work of Christ, the New Testament High Priest, was once, for all - perfect and complete. Old Testament priests offered praise to God through the High Priest. We the New Testament priesthood offer praise to God the Son, our High Priest, seated at the right hand of the Father. The Old Testament priests ministered on behalf of the people, temporarily and symbolically purified through religious rite. The New Testament priesthood consists of all believers, sanctified forever through Christ (I Peter 2:9).

OYBB points out that today's reading from Matthew consists of "hard teachings" about the condition of our heart:

Matthew 5:27-30 are Jesus' teachings about adultery. And really I think these teachings, along with many others in the Sermon on the Mount, are even more so about what is going on inside our hearts. Jesus discusses how the law says clearly how we are "not to do" something - it's very apparent and very "exterior" if we commit a sin like adultery. Jesus says that the exterior/apparent/obvious sin is wrong for sure - but Jesus is equally as concerned with what's going on in the "interior" - inside our hearts. Jesus proposes that if we have looked at someone lustfully with our "interior", we have committed the same sin as if we had actually committed adultery on the "exterior". Do you see how Jesus' teachings in today's readings are really focusing on the condition of our hearts? How is the condition of your heart today when it comes to these teachings? ...I know these can be seen as "hard teachings."

True enough, but I think the real message of this passage is much deeper. Jesus here gives several examples of the imperfect nature of the Old Testament Law, and what the perfect standard is for each example. Jesus turns our thinking upside-down: from "what TO DO and what NOT TO DO in order to avoid sinning" to "what TO DO in order to become holy", which Jesus summarizes thus: "be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Another point Jesus makes here - and one about which I hope to write at some length in the near future - is that Love is only considered virtuous when it is difficult.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than the others? Do not even the pagans do that?

Matthew 5:46-47 (NIV)

Love is an action, a conscious decision of the will. This choice is easy to make when we act in love toward those who reciprocate; but to love our enemies, or those who hate us? That love is truly Christ-like.

OYB: January 5

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today's reading:
OT: Genesis 11, Genesis 12, Genesis 13:1-4
NT: Matthew 5:1-26
Ps: Psalm 5
Pr: Proverbs 1:24-28

Today's notable verse:

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

I know verses 17 & 18 probably are interpreted in different ways - but a friend of mine has encouraged me when in doubt, just stick to the text, which is wise. So, let's look at the Jesus' words here in this text - ""Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God's law will remain until its purpose is achieved." What does the reading of this text say to you?

Jesus summarized the Old Testament Law - in all its forms: the Ten Commandments, Mosaic Law, Prophets, etc. - as "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." In fact, I would go so far as to say that Christ perfected the Law in these two commands. After all, what was Old Testament Law, but an imperfect and imcomplete code by which to fulfill these two commands? As Christ points out in the Sermon on the Mount, fulfillment of His Ultimate Command - Love - goes much beyond the Law than any human could ever possibly fulfill on his own, as Jesus implied when He said, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." The Pharisees followed the Law in the utmost legalistic sense; yet Jesus indicates here that without faith in the One to whom the Law pointed, true righteousness could not be attained.

So, in answer to the question, I believe that Jesus meant that the Ultimate Law of God - Love, through faith - would not pass away until its purpose is achieved: to glorify God and to reconcile man to Him. At the same time, the purpose of the Old Testament Law - to point to the coming Messiah who would become the Ultimate, atoning sacrifice for all sin - was fulfilled in Christ's birth, death, and resurrection. The imperfect Law has been fulfilled and perfected in the Ultimate Law of God: to love.

The Old Testament Law also defined sin by establishing a standard for right living. I do not say "a standard for righteousness" for even under Old Testament Law, righteousness came only through faith in the Messiah who was to come. Just as the Law itself was imperfect, the standard it set was likewise imperfect. When Christ fulfilled Old Testament Law, He also established the Ultimate Standard: "anything that is not of faith is sin," and again: "anyone then who knows the good he ought to do, and doesn't do it, sins." In other words, we are now called to the standard of perfection - again, through faith. This standard is the source of our humility as Christians, since it is only through grace that can can ever hope to be counted as having met such a standard. We fail it every day! Yet, we are identified with Christ, and are counted as righteous - as having met the standard of perfection - through Him.

OYB: January 4

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today's reading:
OT: Genesis 8, Genesis 9, Genesis 10
NT: Matthew 4:12-25
Ps: Psalm 4
Pr: Proverbs 1:20-23

Today's notable verse:

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.

Genesis 8:22 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

In the remainder of chapter 9 we read about Noah's son's Shem, Ham and Japheth. Initially I asked myself, why is Noah so upset with Ham? The answer lies in verse 22 - "Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers." The last 3 words of this sentence were the issue - Ham told his brothers his father was naked. Instead of discreetly just covering up his father on his own, he broadcast the issue to his brothers. Are there times in our life where we could discreetly take care of problems of others, or could confront the individual directly about the problem, but instead we broadcast what someone else's problems are? Is this right? Is this godly?

Actually, I think the implication here is that Ham did more than just see his father's nakedness. Genesis states that Noah's anger resulting from finding out "what his youngest sone had done to him." Noah cursed Ham because of what he had done, and Ham's descendants became some of the most sexually depraved pagan cultures ever to exist - quite possibly because Ham's curse was for his own sexual perversion.

Regardless, that Ham "told his brothers", and Japheth's and Shem's response, led directly to Noah's blessing just as the original act led to Noah's curse. We are presented each day with such choices, and each is an opportunity to respond to temptation by choosing holiness. We, too, are blessed when we choose holiness.

OYBB is right, however, that we are called not to emulate Ham's "broadcasting" of the issue to his brothers. When we have a problem with another, we are to go first to that person alone and attempt to settle the matter. We are also not to condescend to others concerning their own sins (the "speck" in their eyes) while we have unresolved sin in our own lives (the "plank" in our own eye). We are not to consider ourselves more highly than we ought, but in humility consider others better than ourselves. If we take a right attitude toward our own sin, then we won't have time to make hay over anyone else's. If we are humble with respect toward our own sin, then we can serve others in love as they deal with their sin as well.

EDIT (Wednesday, January 4, 2005, 18:15):

One thing I intended to comment on, but forgot:

The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart, "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

Genesis 8:21

What's interesting to note here is that the only humans on the earth at this time were Noah and his family - the very humans saved from the flood because of their righteousness. Yet these same humans constitute the entirety of those to whom God referred when he said, "every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood." This passage is one of the earliest examples of righteousness through faith, and not works. (Abel's acceptable sacrifice would be the first, as recorded in Genesis, and reiterated in Hebrews 11.) Even Noah, earlier commended for his righteousness, is included as one whose every inclination of the heart is evil from childhood. What does that mean? First, we have the ability - the responsibility - to choose to act contrary to the evil inclination of our fallen nature. Second, we are counted as righteousness because of our identification in Christ, through faith, no matter how often nor how badly we fall when we give in to those inclinations. Third, we have been given a very precious gift - the Holy Spirit living in us - to guide us and transform us into the image of Christ, who can overcome our sinful inclinations as we allow Him to work in our lives. Praise be to God!

OYB: January 3

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today's reading:
OT: Genesis 5, Genesis 6, Genesis 7
NT: Matthew 3, Matthew 4:1-11
Ps: Psalm 3
Pr: Proverbs 1:10-19

Today's notable verse:

But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.

Psalm 3:3 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

One other important point to make in Matthew 4:4 and the 2 other temptations in this chapter. We see the devil tempting Jesus with things that may look enticing to Jesus or to us. But they are lies. And note - this is important - how Jesus fends off the devil's temptations and lies - by quoting scripture! Jesus knew scripture (well, yes, technically he is scripture...:) But, the point is this. I do believe that we need to do more than just read the Bible. We need to memorize many portions of the Bible to protect us when the devil is attacking. If we have scripture memorized, when we are tempted, we can quickly call to mind a verse or two that will bring us back into right state of mind - focusing back on God, Jesus, and their love and strength available through the Holy Spirit. If we don't have scripture memorized, as Jesus clearly did in this chapter, we are at risk of falling prey to the deception and lies of the temptation. So - I am mostly preaching this to myself! 🙂 But, I really want to do more memorization of scripture in 2006. I have several verses down - but not enough. Proverbs 3:5-6 certainly comes to mind for me often when I am worried or stressed and it transforms my state of mind immediately! Actually - if anyone else out there memorizes scripture, please post up in the Comments section below? I would love to know which verses you have found useful in your life? And - if anyone has advice on how to best go about memorizing scripture, please post that up too! Are you memorizing scripture on a regular basis? Are you bringing scripture to mind when faced with temptation or sadness or whatever ails you? Will you join me in my plan to memorize more scripture verses in 2006?

It is written... What an amazing testament to power of the Word! Jesus - the author and perfecter of our faith - resisted Satan with these three, simple words. How important is knowing the Word? This passage should answer this question definitively. Satan tempted Jesus' physical cravings, tempted Jesus to "put God to the test," and tempted Jesus' obedience to God's will for his life. In each case, Jesus resisted and refuted Satan with the Word. God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear, but when we are tempted, He will provide a way out, so that we can stand up from under it - but what is that way He provides? His Word! But to be useful, Scripture must be memorized, internalized - lived.

I started memorizing Scripture practically as far back as I have memory. My church, and especially Sunday school classes, encouraged it. My parents reinforced it. The short-term youth mission organization I worked with required daily Scripture memorization on all mission projects. By the time I was in high school, I was memorizing entire books of the Bible for Bible Bowl competitions. (My freshman year, I memorized Matthew; Sophomore year, I memorized I Kings; Junior year, I/II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians; Senior year, Exodus.) Now, I can't still quote all those books; to do that requires daily recitation. But, it's amazing how the Spirit will bring back something from a part of the Bible I've memorized at just the right time, to answer a question, provide a word of wisdom, or otherwise help in a given situation. Several of my favorite scriptures will show up in the daily verse (CB.Word) script in the left-hand sidebar.

I'm sure others have myriad means of memorization, but I have always just used rote memorization and repetition. In high school, I could memorize a chapter or two a week, just memorizing one line at a time. I think, though, there would be great benefit in choosing a verse each day from the daily reading, and memorize it. Today, I have chosen Psalm 3:3.

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. 😉 )

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. 🙂