Bible in a Year (pt.16)

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I was blown away at the picture of worship written in 2nd Chronicles Ch.5…check it out here. I love the last verse that says; “The priests could not continue their work because the glorious presence of the Lord had filled the temple.” What an incredible picture of worship.

The nation of Israel had gathered to dedicate Solomon’s temple. They prepared themselves, they celebrated, they worshipped and then…they were simply in awe. What really strikes me is that this is still a reality today. God still shows up and makes His presence known. Even more amazing to me is the fact that WE are a temple of the Holy Spirit. That same presence that dropped the nation of Israel to its knees, dwells inside of each one of us!

What an amazing God we worship!

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Bible in a Year (pt.15)

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Here’s a great verse that leads to a tough question… “I rejoice in Your Word like one who finds a great treasure” – Psalm 119:162

Question: Is this true of me? Is this true of you?

I’m not much of a reader. I’m lucky if I get through 5 or 6 books a year. For many years, I used this as an excuse to not be in the Word consistently. But what I’ve discovered is that loving the Word of God transcends reading. It’s not as much about the act of physically reading as it is the desire to grab a hold of the contents consistently.

Have you ever had one of those moments, when you’re reading the Bible, where the light bulb goes on? Where something that was once cloudy became crystal clear and you got a shiver down your spine at the discovery? That’s what I long for each time I turn the pages of my Bible. I want that moment of discovery…that feeling of understanding that I didn’t have the moment before.

I believe the key is to read the Word expectantly. Read it as if you’re on an expedition. Read it as if it’s the greatest discovery you’ve ever known. Read it expecting to find that moment of connection with God. That’s when you will find yourself rejoicing in a great treasure.

Answer: It’s becoming more true of me each day. How about you?

Bible in a Year (pt.14) – Living Expectantly

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Joshua 3:5 says; “Then Joshua told the people; purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.” – Can you imagine living with that kind of expectancy? Can you imagine living life knowing that tomorrow God would do great wonders?

I don’t know about you, but that’s how I want to live! Because the truth is, God is doing great wonders around us all the time. He’s changing lives, drawing people unto Himself, meeting needs, healing the sick, providing for the poor, mending the broken and moving in His Church. The wonders never cease…I just think we miss them sometimes.

Think about it…We sing His praises expecting Him to hear. We serve faithfully expecting Him to be glorified. We give of our time, talent and resources expecting Him to use those things for His purposes. We study His Word, expecting to learn and be changed. We share our faith expecting God to intervene in a persons life. We wake up, expecting God to help us breathe.

As Christ Followers, we should always live expectantly. Not just here and there, but every moment of everyday. God loves to “show up” for His people. He longs to work wonders around us. Expect it!

Bible in a Year (pt.13)

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So let the debate begin…What Psalm is the greatest? I can hear everyone chiming in with their responses as I type. For me, the greatest Psalm would have to be Psalm 63. Today’s reading included all 11 verses of this great chapter. Check it out here. I love a Psalm that leaves you asking yourself some tough questions…try these out:

When was the last time I earnestly searched for God?

When was the last time my soul thirsted for God?

Has my whole body ever longed for God?

Am I really willing to praise God as long as I live?

Does God satisfy me…or do I insist on trying to find fulfillment elsewhere?

Have I ever laid awake thinking about God?

Do I sing for joy? 

Do I cling to God? 

If you’ve ever wondered how you should respond to God in your life, simply answer “yes” to these questions and you’ll be on the right track. God longs for us to long for Him…and what a privilege that is!

Bible in a Year (pt.12)

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I’ve been making my way through Leviticus in the Old Testament portion of my reading. The last several days have been focused on the various instructions God gave the Israelites through Moses. I have to admit, it’s not always the most exciting portion of scripture to read, but there is one thing in particular that keeps jumping out at me. Over and over again, God refers to Himself as “The God who brought you [the Israelites] out of the land of Egypt.” It’s as if God was trying to drill that historic event into their heads. The truth is, I think He was.

The exodus from Egypt was a huge turning point in  the history of Israel. Not only were they rescued from the oppression of slavery, but they got to see the power of God on full display (the plagues, the red sea, the manna etc…) – Yet after all that, God still had to remind them continually of what He had done in their lives.

That got me thinking about my life. In 1980 God brought me out of captivity, led me away from where I was, showed me His power by changing my life and provided a future in paradise. Yet, like the Israelites, I often need a reminder. When life is going forward, it’s easy to forget where life has been. But God has always been there, ready to remind me of where I was and what He’s done in my life…“Remember Jim…I am the God who brought you out of captivity 27 years ago.”

I wish I didn’t need reminding. I wish I would never lose sight of that memory. Maybe that’s just it. It’s not meant to be just a memory. The truth is, God is STILL leading me out of the old life into the new. He’s STILL providing. He STILL showing me His power in my life. He’s STILL leading me through the desert of this life day after day on the way to the promised land.

Sure, I remember what God has done… and I remember it all the more because He is STILL doing it!

Bible in a Year (pt.11)

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It’s amazing to me that we miss the clear hand of God so often. For me, I can count an endless list of events and circumstances where God has reached down and shown His power, provision and peace in my life. In Mark 8, we see the disciples have the same struggle. Read vs. 16-21 here. The 12 had seen Jesus feed thousands out of virtually nothing not once…but twice! Yet they still wondered how they would make it through this boat trip without enough food. What’s worse is that Jesus was sitting right there with them! I love what Jesus finally says to them in vs. 21; “Don’t you understand even yet?”

That’s me more often than I care to admit. Time after time, God has provided, yet time after time I still question if He’ll continue. God shouldn’t have to prove Himself to us. He shouldn’t have top remind us of who He is and what He’s done. He shouldn’t have to put His glory on display for us to acknowledge that He is glorious. The truth is, maybe we don’t understand. Maybe this grace thing is so incredible that we can’t begin to grasp its depth.

All I know is that God has proved Himself faithful…not because He had to, but because He wanted to. I want to grasp this, I want to be one who understands and trusts that God has my back at every corner, in every circumstance and through every moment. Don’t miss His hand in your life…it’s there whether you see it or not.

Bible in a Year (pt.10)

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Here’s a few things that have jumped out at me over the last week or so…

Ex. 34:14 says; “You must worship no other gods, but only the Lord, for he is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you.” I love the fact that God is passionate about us. I love that He longs to have a relationship with us. The question is, how passionate are we about our relationship with Him?

Psalm 33:20-21 says; “We depend on the Lord alone to save us. Only he can help us, protecting us like a shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we are trusting in his holy name.” Yet another great picture, but can we truly say this in our own lives? Do we rejoice? Do we depend upon Him? Are we trusting Him?

Read Psalm 34:1-10 here. If there is one portion of scripture that gives a vivid picture of a lifestyle of worship, this is it! Taste and see that the Lord is good…Oh, the joys of those who trust in Him!

This week I’ve really been moved by the fact that God longs for us to count on Him. Words like trust, depend and rejoice have jumped out at me all week. I love it when scripture makes us question where we are at. It’s good to be introspective and it’s good to be honest with ourselves. The truth is, I don’t always trust Him, I don’t always depend on Him and I don’t always rejoice in Him…but I should…and I long to.

Let’s face it, we are all a work in progress, but the beautiful thing is that God has laid out His desire to work in and through us all throughout scripture…and He will be faithful to complete that work!