OYB November 20

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted December 17, 2006; back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: Ezekiel 40:28-49, Ezekiel 41
NT: James 4
Ps: Psalm 118:19-29
Pr: Proverbs 28:3-5

Today´s notable verses:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7 (NIV)

Part of the beauty of this verse is that we are called to active submission to God, which is joined here with resistance of - almost/implied passive struggle against - the devil. Our call against Satan is not to fight - which is the responsibility of and was accomplished by Christ - but rather to resist. Satan will attack or tempt us, but we are called to stand firm against him (see also Ephesians 6:13).

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

James 4:17 (NIV)

Talk about a high standard! This definition of sin is simple to explain, yet in comparison to Mosaic Law it is a much higher calling. No longer is sin "doing wrong"; according to this standard, sin is also "not doing right". We are left with no middle ground - no gray area.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB November 19

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted December 17, 2006; back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: Ezekiel 39, Ezekiel 40:1-27
NT: James 2:18-26, James 3:1-18
Ps: Psalm 118:1-18
Pr: Proverbs 28:2

Today´s notable verses:

In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city.

Ezekiel 40:2 (NIV)

I was having some difficulty envisioning the temple described by Ezekiel. I found this scale-model and description to be helpful:

Ezekiel's Temple

Model of Ezekiel's vision of the New Temple
Photo and model© Paul Jablonowski

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:26 (NIV)

These teachings of James can be difficult and confusing, especially in light of the teachings of Paul in Romans 3-5. My take is that, according to Paul's teaching, man is justified in Christ by grace alone, through faith; and according to James' teaching, man's internal faith must and will be evidenced by outward manifestations. That is, the outward deeds of man do not justify, but rather are the evidence of the inward faith through which man is justified.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

James 3:17 (NIV)

These characteristics of wisdom remind of the Fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5:22. This association makes perfect sense, since the Holy Spirit is the personification of Wisdom (see Proverbs 8, for example).

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB November 18

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted December 16, 2006; back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: Ezekiel 37-38
NT: James 1:19-27, James 2:1-17
Ps: Psalm 117
Pr: Proverbs 28:1

Today´s notable verses:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry

James 1:19 (NIV)

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

James 1:22 (NIV)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27 (NIV)

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:17 (NIV)

A collection of wisdom from today's reading in James.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB November 17

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted December 16, 2006; back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: Ezekiel 35-36
NT: James 1:1-17
Ps: Psalm 116
Pr: Proverbs 27:23-27

Today´s notable verses:

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.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV)

Paul references this circumcision of the heart - which the Jewish physical circumcision symbolizes - in Romans 2:28-29. It is not the physical circumcision in which God is ultimately interested, but in the circumcision of the heart: the removing of the heart of stone to be replaced with a heart of flesh, a heart submitted to God.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

James 1:5 (NIV)

Aren't we glad that we serve a God who so desires that we live the life He intends for us that He is willing personally to endue within us His wisdom - and that He does so generously and without finding fault in the one who humbles himself enough to ask God for that wisdom!

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds;

Proverbs 27:23 (NIV)

Part of responsible stewardship of that with which God has entrusted us is knowing the condition of that trust. Take care of physical possessions, keep track of investments, and practice preventive maintenance to ensure the health and viability of everything with which we have been entrusted. That said, we are not called to obsess over our stewardships. Practice due diligence, but do not become consumed with anything other than serving, worshiping, and glorifying God, who is ultimately responsible for everything.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

(p.s. Mike: I disagree that today's Proverbs verses are merely "agricultural advice". Flocks and herds represented one of the primary means of accumulating and passing on wealth to one's heirs. They were one of the primary economic vehicles, serving as tender for barter exchanges. They were also a primary source of milk, food, and clothing. To "look after" one's flocks and herds then is directly analogous today to one caring for investments and possessions one would desire to pass on to one's heirs. Much wisdom in these "agricultural" verses apply to us today, even in our non-agrarian societies.

OYB November 16

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted December 16, 2006; back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: Ezekiel 33-34
NT: Hebrews 13
Ps: Psalm 115
Pr: Proverbs 27:21-22

Today´s notable verses:

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. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'

Ezekiel 33:11 (NIV)

What was true then is still true today: God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather takes pleasure in repentance that leads to life. His exhortation still applies: Turn! Turn from evil, and live!

For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.

Ezekiel 34:11 (NIV)

God promised that He Himself would search for His sheep and look after them - and so He did: Jesus Christ came to earth as our Perfect Shepherd. He sought out the lost, healed the sick, and strengthened the weak.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

This truth is one of the greatest and most reassuring of all truths in Scripture! Our God does not change. His Word does not change. His promises do not change. His principles do not change. We can trust what we read in the Bible to be true, and the outcomes of applying biblical principles will not change. It is the immutability of our God and His Word that enables Christians to live life victoriously.

15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Hebrews 13:15-16 (NIV)

Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross did not abolish the system of sacrifices; rather, it completed and perfected that system. He became the ultimate, complete atoning sacrifice for sin, allowing us to transcend the need for atonement for sin to pursue a higher sacrifice: the sacrifice of self in praise to God and service to others, emulating our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB November 15

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted December 16, 2006; back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: Ezekiel 31-32
NT: Hebrews 12:14-29
Ps: Psalm 113-114
Pr: Proverbs 27:18-20

Today´s notable verses:

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)

As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man.

Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB November 14

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted December 16, 2006; back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: Ezekiel 29-30
NT: Hebrews 11:32-40, Hebrews 12:1-13
Ps: Psalm 112
Pr: Proverbs 27:17

Today´s notable verses:

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

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

These beautiful, encouraging verses are the culmination of the Faith Chapter, and the transition into Paul's discourse on discipline, which he summarizes here:

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

As an expectant father, I now read scripture involving parenting and fatherhood in a much more meaningful light. I certainly respect my own father for the love he demonstrated to me through his training and discipline, and as I contemplate demonstrating that same love to my own children I appreciate all the more the difficult position of putting one's children through the temporary pain of discipline in order to produce in them the eternal harvest of peace.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB November 13

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted December 16, 2006; back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: Ezekiel 27-28
NT: Hebrews 11:17-31
Ps: Psalm 111
Pr: Proverbs 27:15-16

Today´s notable verse:

Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

Ezekiel 28:17 (NIV)

Ezekiel chapter 28 symbolizes the King of Tyre as Satan, and the prophecy and lament against the King of Tyre likewise as against Satan. In this lament we see that Satan's original sin was that which I believe is the ultimate root of all human sin: pride.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB November 12

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted December 16, 2006; back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: Ezekiel 24-26
NT: Hebrews 11:1-16
Ps: Psalm 110
Pr: Proverbs 27:14

Today´s notable verses:

1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

Hebrews 11:1-2 (NIV)

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

Just a couple of scriptures with very practical, straight-forward explanations of the concept of faith: confidence in that for which we hope, certainty of that which we cannot prove empirically, and belief in a God who exists and rewards those who earnestly seek Him. In other words, we believe in God, we have confidence in our hope for a reward from Him, and we are certain of these truths, even though we cannot completely prove them through means of physical observation.

If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.

Proverbs 27:14(NIV)

Certainly, if such loud blessing early in the morning disturbs the sleep of the intended recipient, such praise will indeed be taken as a curse! This author agrees, and so does this one. However, could this proverb refer to something deeper than such mundane advice? Perhaps it is a warning against flattery; however, if this verse were intended solely as a warning against such flattery, wouldn't the phrasing be "it should be taken as a curse", rather than "it will be taken..."? That is, the wise response would be one of skepticism of the blessing as flattery. As it is written, the phrasing seems to imply that all such loud, early morning blessing will be taken - inherently - as a curse. If the verse were intended as a warning against flattery, given the insidious nature of that flattery, the blessing would not be taken inherently as a curse. Otherwise, no reason would exist for the warning against it. That said, Matthew Henry's concise commentary agrees with this interpretation that the verse is intended as a warning against love of praise.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB November 11

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted December 16, 2006; back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: Ezekiel 23
NT: Hebrews 10:18-39
Ps: Psalm 109
Pr: Proverbs 27:13

Today´s notable verses:

The older was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They were mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 23:4 (NIV)

A brief explanation, based on even more brief research, of the prophecy of the adulterous sisters, Oholah and Oholibah, in Ezekiel chapter 23: Oholah is a proper feminine Hebrew name that means "her own tent"; Oholibah is a proper feminine Hebrew name that means "woman of the tent" or "the tent is in her". At this point in the history of Israel, the nation is divided between the southern kingdom of Judea and the northern kingdom of Israel. Jerusalem, the original capital of the nation of Israel, is within the southern kingdom. The city of Samaria is established as the capital of the northern kingdom. I believe the root, tent, refers to the place or object of worship: tent - tabernacle - temple. God's chosen place of worship for His people - the Temple - was in Jerusalem; thus both the rightful place and object (since God inhabited the Temple) of worship were found within Jerusalem. The Israelites of the northern kingdom were God's people, thus they were people of the "tent" - that is, people of the Temple, or people who worshiped the God who inhabited the Temple in Jerusalem. Thus, the allegorical prostitution of both Oholah and Oholibah refers to the worship of other gods by the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel, as explained in the subsequent verses. For further research, see the Jewish Encyclopedia.

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

It is important to remember that, while our faith and our relationship with God are intimate and very personal, the Christian life and Christian walk were never intended to be solitary. God created us in His image; part of that likeness includes our relational and communal character. God intended humanity to be in relationship with Him and with each other.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.