Pilgrims songs. I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber.

Day 194 (July 13): Pilgrims songs, save me from deceivers, God always watching, helping, Mockers pressure Jews, Keep wicked away, Rewards for hard days

Jan van ‘t Hoff/Gospelimages.com

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Psalm 120-121
Psalm 123
Psalm 125
Psalm 126
(979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. These Psalms are for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.  Why are they going there?

A. They are making a pilgrimage to the holy city in order to worship God and, most likely, participate in one of the three annual festival/holy days (from Exodus 23:14-17 and 34:18-23): Pesach/ Passover, Sukkot/ Feast of Booths, and Shavuot/ Feast of Weeks.  Since Jerusalem would have been higher than the surrounding countryside, it would have required walking up the steep roads to enter the city, and it would have been treated as a formal path of pilgrimage.

Q. (Psalm 120): Any idea who wrote this or what it’s about?

A. There isn’t much information here.  My notes indicate that the places described in verse 5 are in what is now Saudi Arabia, far from the Jewish nation, so this writer had quite a ways to go to reach the holy city.  Because of this distance, he likely feels very isolated and surrounded by “barbarians” who don’t know God.

Q. (121): I think many times people think they have the hard end of the relationship with God because they struggle to keep His commandments.  But, it always feels so ironic that God is doing so much work by always being there, watching over us.  He really is our servant.

A. In a manner of speaking.  God is beyond generous with each of us, but let there be no doubt that while God often “serves” us, it is only that we might turn from our sins and walk more closely with Him.  We should have no illusions about who is in charge, and it is not us.

Q. (123): It sounds like these pilgrims have had enough of taking ridicule from nonbelievers.  They are looking to God to rescue them?

A. As we get closer to the destruction of Judah, the pressure on the people will continue to mount, and the presence of foreigners who mock them for their faith will continue to grow.  The words have been a great comfort to Jews for more than 2300 years, as the people have been conquered, scattered, and persecuted by people of other faiths (including Christians, sadly) for our entire modern history.  God is certainly laying groundwork here to help His chosen people remain faithful, even after centuries of persecution.

For further reading: Pilgrim songs, Psalms 120-134, https://swedenborgdigitallibrary.org/sower/pr/Ps75.htm

Spread the Word! Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalms 128-130
— Psalm 132
— Psalms 134-135 

Rejoice in knowing God Jacob praised God

Day 192 (July 11):Our God is real, Idols are human-made, God blesses and never forgets His followers, God protects, cares for godly, Rejoice in all He offers

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Psalms 115-118
(979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 116:1-2, 115:10): I often wonder why we pray to God and praise Him so much.  Why does He seek praise, or does He?  Why are we told in Scripture to do so?  I am sure there are a lot of reasons.  One I think of is to keep our eyes on God.  We should want to thank God in prayer for all of our blessings.  Here in 116:2, it says that He bends down to hear what we say.  The Creator of the Earth and all of its complexities eagerly has time for us.  That means that He does care and it is worth our time.  Also, in 115:10, we are told that God is our helper and our shield.  That’s a pretty good armor!  But, does God desire praise?

A. The parent metaphor is an apt one here.  Do I “require” the praise of my little girls?  Do I require them to say, “You are such a great Daddy!”  No!  No (healthy) parent does that!  But does it bring delight to my heart to hear the love of my daughters?  You bet it does.  As a strong proponent of free will, I believe that God does not force us to love Him, but is honored most when we make the CHOICE to love Him.

Worship of God is never for His benefit — God needs nothing for us, He is a complete entity and Triune community unto Himself — but always for ours.  Worship is one of the key ways that we as people can see the “true” way things are, as we see things being told to us in these Psalms.  Worship, like prayer, is never about changing God, but rather using the truth that God is in charge.

Q. (116:3): What is going on here?

A. The writer was facing death, and uses the metaphor of being “snared” in the ropes of a personified death, as an animal in a trap.

Q. (118:24): Amen!  This should wake me up every morning!

A. The church I grew up in started every service with it.  You could do a lot worse than this verse.

For further reading: Does God hear our prayers? https://www.gotquestions.org/does-God-hear-my-prayers.html

Spread the Word! Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalm 119

God rescues. Thank Him. Have reverence for God

Day 191 (July 10): Thank God for always rescuing, Wise will see God’s ways, Godly will be honored infuriating the wicked, God revives sufferers

Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
— Psalm 107
— Psalms 111-114
(797 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

O. (Psalm 107:1-7): God has such grace and mercy.  No matter how far away from God one has strayed, He always welcomes them back and give them a place to reside.  What a gift we have in Him!

O. (111:10): Great verse.  I have been feeling wiser.  Reading the Bible in it’s entirety is the best decision I have ever made.  I have wanted to do it for so long and started several times.  What could be more important in life than knowing God’s textbook!  It should be the foundation for who we are and how we live!  I always said — because I hadn’t found time to read the Bible — that as long as I love everyone and act accordingly, I would “make it.”  But, I can see that I was naïve!  There is a ton more of knowledge available that is helping me know more of what my life is about.  I wish everyone could make the time!

O. (112:1): Years ago, we were gearing up for our daughter to attend Kindergarten.  Although we lived in a great school district, we wanted our daughter to not just be exposed to Christianity, but to live it, to be it.  What a great decision that was!  I cringe at the thought of my kids not being allowed to pray or not taught the virtues of the Bible.  If there is any bullying going on at school, it is immediately dealt with.  In my daughter’s Second Grade class, I have witnessed kids talking through hurt feelings with love and respect.  These kids are so compassionate.  For my daughter’s birthday each child said a prayer out loud for her.  We have had a great experience at the two Christian Classical schools that children attended!  They make it very clear that God should be the center of our lives.  Yes, it’s expensive and many things have been put on hold for tuition.  But, if you think you can’t afford it, check it out, there are scholarships!

Q. (112:3): I’m holding out for the riches.  Really, God, I will be generous!  I do believe that if you follow what God wants you to do that you will have just what you need to be very happy.

A. There’s one of those old “conversations with God” that get used in sermons a lot that I have that I think sums up my thoughts on your question: I asked God to give me happiness. And God said “No”.  He said, “He gives me blessings, happiness is up to me.”

O. (112:4): I love these three virtues — generosity, compassion and righteousness.  If your life isn’t great by society’s standards, I think it’s awesome that a light can shine if you are a believer of God.  I think those three things can help you stay happy by giving of yourself.

Q. (112:7): As I have said in the above observation that our budget is tight.  We moved a year ago, my husband started his own business which can be stressful, you know this if you have ever done it, our daughter’s school bill doubled with the change of school and we have another child starting, so our school bill will be quadrupling from two years ago.  But, the more we trust in God, the less we are concerned about it.  It’s scary that it feels good.  I guess money is the fear that we are trying to hand over to God.  But, there are more fears like my in-laws are dealing with: many of their friends are fatally ill.  I’m sure that makes them look at their own vitality.  There are fears about our children being safe.  Just pray and hand those worries over to God!

A. (Just as a quick note, when I’m discussing fear in my response, I’m not talking about fear in the sense of reverence for God, and a right understanding of who He is, as in Proverbs 1:7, among other references.  I would use the word reverence myself.  That’s not the type of fear I’m going to be discussing).  Now then: fear (anxiety, cowardice, etc.) though sometimes a powerful motivator, is ultimately a fruitless emotion.  And fear is not of God.  If you think about it (and as 1 John 4:18 notes), the opposite of love is not hate, but fear.  Fear is the very antithesis of what God calls us to.  We are called to see the example of His love for us on the cross, and trust Him with the rest.  The more we trust Him, the less we will fear.  Now that doesn’t mean that fear will just, poof, disappear.  We will continue to struggle with fear and sin our whole lives, even as we grow closer to God.  But as we see the work of God in the Bible and in our lives, we will see that God calls us to have a spirit of boldness and trust, not a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).  One of the most common commands in scripture (especially when encountering God or an angelic being) is, “do not fear”.  Trust in God, and learn from Christ what it means to live a bold life for Him.

For further reading
What does it mean to have reverence for God? https://www.gotquestions.org/reverence-for-God.html
— There are plenty of Bible verses about having reverence for God, https://www.verseoftheday.com/topics/reverence/

Spread the Word! Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalms 115-118

God cleared the Red Sea for the Israelites to flee Egypt. After they passed, God released the waters, drowning all the Egyptian soldiers, horses and chariots.

Day 190 (July 9): Proclaim God, His creation, and the wonders He has done, Israel in Egypt review, Israelites strayed from God despite His guidance and aid

Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Psalms 105-106
(979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

O. (Psalm 105:1-4): I love the beginning of this Psalm.  This was written for the Israelites, but I think we could apply the first two verses to our lives, but more of as a collective charge.  We have talked way back to where we should use discretion when proclaiming God.  If you shout out today how wondrous God is, chances are you’ll get some weird looks. But, if you testify in the right place at the right time, it can work.  Or, if this could be more a collective charge where this first two verses are addressing Christians as a whole to have God on our mind, act godly and proclaim Him whenever possible, we can apply it to today.  Verses 3 and 4 are right on!  The more I search for God and request His thoughts, the easier my life is.

O. (105:8-45): The rest of this Psalm is about how God never faltered on His covenant with Abraham.  Despite all the anger and humiliation God had to endure, He still put up with them.  He kept the covenant.

Q. (106): This Psalm takes us, and the original authors of this passage, way back through lots of generations — 700 or so years worth.  But, they tell it like it just happened yesterday.  And now, we are reading it 2700 years later (I think my estimations are correct).  It’s just amazing how God and the Bible have lasted through all of these years!  Just an off-the-wall curious question: I would assume that the Bible is the oldest book of any religion.  Any idea how far other religions date back?

A. When it comes to monotheism, you would be correct, the OT is the “oldest” major religious text.  But there’s a reason: both of the other major monotheistic religions both spring from Judaism — Christianity (circa 30 AD) and Islam (622 AD).  But the oldest still practiced religion is Hinduism, which is a polytheistic (many gods) and pantheistic (everything is god) religion, the primary faith of the Indian sub-continent.  Though there is no official “founder” for Hinduism as Judaism associates with Abraham, an ancient form of the religion in the Indus river valley can be basically traced back nearly 5000 years (to circa 3000 BC), so it gets the title of “oldest still practiced religion.”  Among their sacred texts are what are called the Four Vedas (truths), and though it is generally accepted that their final composition/editing occurred around 600 BC, they are much older than that, and probably date to an older period than the OT.

Now you can make the argument that forms of spirit worship, the worship of nature, and other such forms of what we would call “paganism” can go back many more thousands of years to primitive mankind even tens of thousands of years ago, but there is no “direct” line from these religious positions to a modern form.

Major Monotheistic Religions
Judaism: circa 2000 BC
Zoroastrianism: circa 600 BC
Christianity: circa 30 AD
Islam: 622 AD
Sikhism: 1469 AD
Mormonism: 1820s AD
Baha’i: 1844 AD

Major Polytheistic Religions
Hinduism: circa 3000 BC
For further reading: All about Hinduism, https://www.history.com/topics/religion/hinduism
Shintoism: 800 AD

Major Agnostic Religions/Philosophies
Jainism: circa 900 BC
Buddhism: circa 500 BC
Daoism: also spelled Taoism, 400 BC
Confucianism: circa 400 BC

For further reading: an interesting article on a defender of Christianity being the oldest religion, (I don’t know who this blogger is, but He is definitely a believer and is resourceful) https://iamtymaximus.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/why-should-i-believe-christianity-when-hinduism-is-the-worlds-oldest-religion/

Spread the Word! Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalm 107
— Psalms 111-114

 

God is our Shepherd Praise God for His creation! Man is made in His image.

Day 189 (July 8): Let the world shout the Lord’s name, Jerusalem is exalted, God is our Shepherd, Lean on God, Praise God for His creation!

Carolyn Dyk / Wycliffe Bible Translators

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Psalms 98-100
Psalm 102
Psalm 104
(979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 98): I notice the harp is mentioned often as a preferred instrument to accompany praises.  Any idea why?

A. I’m afraid I don’t have a good answer for that, other than to say it was a commonly owned instrument of this era, kind of like a guitar today.  When we think of the NLT’s use of “harp,” what they really mean is what we call a “lyre,” a handheld small stringed instrument, like a mini-harp.  According to my notes, there is a reference to the creator of the lyre — as Jews knew it anyway — in Genesis 4:21, and it was also noted to be the official instrument of the nation, probably made so by King David.  Check out some other readings on it here: http://topicalbible.org/h/harp.htm and here (lots of photos): https://www.windowintothebible.com/string-instruments

Q. (100:3): I bet we will see more references to God and Jesus as the shepherd of us — His sheep.  We have seen it several times already.  Why sheep?  They are meek, quiet, community oriented … ?

A. That last adjective made me laugh: it makes sheep sound like they form little “sheep clubs” with membership dues or something.  The primary reason, as I think we’ve discussed, though for the life of me I forget where, is that one of the main occupations of Israel was sheep herding and ranching.  Sheep would have been an animal that all Israelites would have been familiar with.  Now having visited a few farms, I would have to disagree with your assessment of sheep as being “quiet” or anything like it — they are noisy animals that only get quiet when things turn bad.  But there are lots of other reasons that I can think of why God would call us His sheep.  Since the list I’m coming up with is fairly extensive, I’m going to defer to two resources on the matter.  The first is a book, called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. https://www.amazon.com/Shepherd-Looks-Psalm-23/dp/0310274419

The other is a person’s blog whom I feel does a good job of summarizing many of the reasons I’m thinking of.  Feel free to leave any feedback in the comments.
http://inhonoroftheking.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-does-god-call-us-sheep.html

O. (102:28): How fortunate are those children who are being taught the ways of the Lord.  I feel for those children who are brought into a house of anger, violence or neglect.

Q. (104): This psalm makes me think of how much we take God’s creation for granted.  I am amazed at all the details that God included, how things were made to coexist, how it all works together.  Then, of all of God’s creation, it’s the human race that He loves the most and works with the most to try to turn toward Him.  I guess this is because we are created in His image and He desires for us to be with Him to share the beauty of His creation?

A. I would say your guess is correct.

For further reading: Are humans just a bunch of worthless sinners or are they God’s creation made in His image? https://tabletalkmagazine.com/posts/the-value-of-human-life/

Spread the Word! Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalms 105-106

Christians praising God. Bibles open, hands clapping, guitar strumming, singing hymns of praise

Day 188 (July 7): Give thanks to the Creator, God is eternally strong, Wicked will be judged justly, Godly get joyful rewards, Nothing can conquer God

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Psalms 92-97
(979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

O. (Psalm 92): Notice the organization of this psalm.  First, they say to give thanks and praise God in the morning and in the evening (to me, whenever or as much as the feeling arises).  Second, they show their depth of knowledge of what God means, acknowledging God’s complexity and creation. And lastly, the amazing rewards for the godly!

Q. (94): Here the author is naming some ungodly traits: gloating, arrogance, boasting.  He is saying that these wicked people should wake up.  Are they so foolish that they think God will not notice their sins, that He will spare them?  This always makes me think of Judgment Day: those who have always rose to the top as they put others down will have the tables turned on them.  As a Christian, I feel sad for them that they didn’t see the Light and now will suffer for a very long time.

A. One of the common warnings Jesus gave during His earthly ministry is summarized in Matthew 20:16, “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”  It is what is commonly called the great reversal.  It is a clear warning to those who have enjoyed life in this world without consideration for others who are not as fortunate.  Wealth can be a great blessing from God, and in the right hands it is.  As long as we keep a proper perspective on things (i.e. all the wealth we have comes from God’s blessing, not our effort), then we will have nothing to fear from our wealth on the Day of Judgment.  But if our attitude is that we have earned all that we have, and it is to be used for our benefit and comfort alone, we will likely be in grave trouble.  Now I would add that salvation is possible for all who believe in Christ, but if a person of great wealth who uses it to exploit others, I would question whether they had understood the central message of the Gospel at all.

Q. (96): This is a psalm of huge proclamation.  Verse 13 is talking of the Messiah?

A. I would say no: it appears to be speaking of the rule of God alone, and His earthly King/Messiah does not appear to come into view in this writer’s perspective.

For further study: It’s more thrilling to be saved than to be “successful”! https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/more-thrilling-to-be-saved-than-to-succeed

Spread the Word! Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalms 98-100
— Psalm 102
— Psalm 104

Joyful followers. Following the Lord gives you peace no matter what surrounds you.

Day 187 (July 6): Joyful followers, Charge to kings, God created us, He knows us, Cry for God’s care, God’s shelter provides rest

Jan van ‘t Hoff/Gospelimages.com

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Psalms 1-2
Psalm 10
Psalm 33
Psalm 71
Psalm 91
(979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

O. (Psalms 1:1-3): If you think about things that irritate you, bring you down and you just can’t shake them, where do those thoughts stem from?  I hadn’t thought about this until just now.  Whatever those thoughts are, they do not include God.  But, when I am focused on God, I am always happy.  When I listen to our local Christian music, I am swelling with happiness.  So, set your eyes on God and you will find happiness!

O. (1:4-6): What a comfort to know that God is always watching over us, as long as we are on His path.

Q. (2:7): We talked before about the anointed kings being like God’s sons.  The people are encouraged to follow the king’s orders and the kings are charged with being wise and making good decisions.  Why does God link the kings directly to Him?

A. Ok, first things first.  Generally, one of the ways that these ancient cultures thought about royalty is that their leaders were anointed by God (or whatever other gods there were in their society), and were therefore given the title of “son” of God/god.  This is only a cultural title, and does not generally apply to actual genealogy.  Now, having said that, this Psalm is something else entirely.  Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm, one that describes actions or characteristics of the Messiah, God’s anointed or chosen ruler — and here we see the ruler described as an earthly king.  So in this case, the writer really is referring to a father/son type relationship between God and this Messianic ruler, which the Jews of this era would have been expecting.

One of the “offices” or “titles” that the Messiah will hold — that is, an office anointed by God — is that of “king.”  The others are priest and prophet, so watch for Messianic descriptions of these offices as well.  He is God’s chosen ruler, the one whom the government will be on His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6).  He, the whole of God and the best of our humanity, will be the true ruler in the Kingdom of God.

Q. (2:16-17): This psalm and many others speaks so confidently about God’s power, yet they also speak of their reservations about God not being sovereign and failing to help ones who are suffering.

A. I think they are being true to their thoughts: they know God to be all-powerful, and trust in Him, but see that their reality is a lot more “gray” then they would like.  It, to me, is the writer’s attempt to reconcile the truth of God with what they see.

Q. This is a random thought: it seems like in Bible times, people who were following God, or any false god, made lots of time in their day to worship.  I would say a good majority of Sunday Christians just worship on Sunday and maybe say prayers before they eat dinner.  In contrast, some religions in other countries worship at set times during the day and may seem more devoted than the when-we-make-time-for-it religion. But, I’m wondering if God might be more pleased of someone’s faith in Him when they worship on their own time and don’t feel forced to attend.

A. As we have discussed with the issues that got the Jews into trouble in this era, God is after our hearts first and foremost.  So we’ve got to get rid of this idea that we are being “forced” to do anything with our relationship with God.  If you feel like you have to force yourself to be part of religious ritual, then frankly, I would say that’s a problem with you!  It should be our desire to make God the priority in our lives.  From the 10 Commandments on, however, we see that God only requires one day a week from us — the Sabbath (however we choose to interpret it).  What we give from there is, strictly speaking, up to us.  And I would say the same applies to tithing — 10% required, more than that optional and at our discretion.  Our relationship with God should never feel forced: We would be very concerned about a person if they were asking, “how much time do I have to spend with my kids or my spouse?”  That would tell me there’s a major problem with the relationship, and it would be the same concern I would have if that’s the way they treated their relationship with God.

Now having said that, there’s a flip side to this that does need to be addressed.  I think that the record of Scripture teaches clearly that giving God more of our time, talent, or treasure does NOT make Him love us more, but it may change us in the process.  Note the difference between the two!  Being devoted to God more hours in a given day will not cause God to bless us more, but it might bring us into closer relationship with Him.

Q. (Psalm 71): It seems that a lot of Psalm writers are worried about God forsaking them.  The writers almost threaten God to not leave them.  Why?

A. Very likely some of these Psalms are written in the midst of terrible things happening to the people of Judah, like watching a foreign power march through and destroy Israel.  The truly insightful Jew is willing to acknowledge that God is all they are really holding onto in the end, so if He “leaves,” they know they are out of luck.

Q. (Psalm 71:20): Would you say that some “hardship” is sometimes just part of the plan?  I know that the big picture is just to keep trusting in God and He’ll take care of you.

A. Sure.  God does not guarantee us a smooth ride in life, but we believe that He is faithful.  If we ignore His warnings though, we are in danger of being forced to deal with the consequences of our actions.  The choice to sin always bears poisonous fruit, but often we cannot tell whom it will affect.

O. (Psalm 91:4): What a picture of protection!  What a great image of God watching His sheep.  I was thinking about how Jesus, God and the Spirit work for us.  I have always thought of Jesus working for us by saving us from our sins as he was nailed to the cross.  But, His influence didn’t stop there.  Jesus was always trying to reach more people to share the Word of God and give them salvation.  We are supposed to be like Jesus, reaching out to and protecting those who don’t know Him.

For further peace and rest: 12 Psalms to calm your mind, https://psalm91.com/12-best-psalms-to-calm-your-mind-and-relax-your-spirit/

Spread the Word! Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalms 92-97

Praise God. Stairway to heaven

Day 186 (July 5): Korah praises God, Glorious Jerusalem, Riches are nothing, Godly will rule, Awesome Kingdom, Others to join Jerusalem

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Psalms 47-49
Psalms 84-85
Psalm 87
(979-950 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 47-49, 84-85, 87): These Psalms were probably grouped together because they were all about or by the descendants of Korah.  Korah was a tribe of Esau, right?  They have joined the Israelites or at least acknowledged God’s supremacy?  Their words are very glorifying!

A. There is a Korah mentioned as being a son of Esau (Genesis 36:5), but it much more likely refers to the children of the Korah that instigated a rebellion against Moses back in Numbers.  Back on Day 136 — May 16 — when we read a Korah psalm, you asked me about that Korah, and here’s what I wrote:

Korah was the leader of the insurrection against Moses and Aaron way back in Numbers 16 and was swallowed up by the earth.  But there are elements of redemption in the story as well.  Numbers 26:11 tells us that the descendants of Korah survived the death of their father, and were part of the Levitical priesthood.  They played a role as door/gate keepers and some form of musicians (1 Chronicles 9) for David.  Several psalms are credited to them.  Part of the redemption for me is we see the element of grace at work.  Our past does not have to be our future because of God’s grace.  One of the clearest messages of Scripture is that God can redeem anyone, no matter what horrible things have been done in their past, or even their families’ past.

Q. (48:4-7): What incident is the Psalm speaking about here?

A. It’s a good question, and I don’t have a great answer.  There are a couple of times where foreign enemies allied themselves against Israel, including 2 Chronicles 20, where the forces of Moab and Ammon ally against Jehoshaphat and fail, but there are other possibilities.  We don’t know for sure.

Q. (49): What an awesome Psalm to bluntly say that riches get you nowhere!  We heard in Psalm 48 how beautiful and fortified Jerusalem was, how it was so magnificent that it scared away rival kings.  We are saying that this city was strong because it was God’s city, right?  Psalm 49 could be looked at as contradicting because it’s saying wealth is meaningless in the life-and-death spectrum.  We are talking of two different things —  the beauty of Jerusalem because it’s God’s city and the wasteful riches of people?

A. Yes, I think you have that right.

Q. (84:5-7): Would you say that we could apply these verses to our lives?  The more we bring God into our heart, the stronger we become?

A. As a general rule yes. Remember our rules for Proverbs: generally very helpful, but not ironclad.  I would say the same applies here.

O. (84:10): Love the song that comes from this verse.  The first time I stepped into our old church in Yorktown, VA they were playing that song.  Brought me to tears.   The next two verses, 11-12 are awesome too.  What a reward to follow him!

Song: Better is one Day in Your Courts, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4Fj9bbEmVk

Q. (85): Is this Psalm asking that if Israel or Judah become corrupt again, will God come to their rescue?

A. It seems more like the writer is demanding rescue.  Pretty gutsy expectation if you ask me, but God has surely proven Himself faithful to His people, so maybe this guy is on to something.

Q. (87): So, Jerusalem absorbs other nations because they have seen God’s magnificence and accepted Him as their God?

A. This Psalm casts a unique vision — for the Psalms anyway — but it reads very similarly to verses and concepts that we have read about in Isaiah and Micah: the idea that the Kingdom God will one day establish and will be gathered around Jerusalem and the concept of the Mountain of God — Zion.  Those other stories spoke of all nations gathering in Jerusalem/Zion to be a part of His holy Kingdom (see Micah 4 for instance).  For what it’s worth, the Book of Revelation contains a very similar image, albeit from a very different Jerusalem (Revelation 21 and 22:1-5), but no less the Kingdom of God.

For further study: Seven reasons to praise God, https://research.lifeway.com/2017/09/01/seven-reasons-praise-lord/

Spread the Word! Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalms 1-2
— Psalm 10
— Psalm 33
— Psalm 71
— Psalm 91

Cry out to the Lord As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

Day 185 (July 4): Korah’s Psalms: discouraged still look to God, faithful question God, worship God in all His glory, God is the answer!

Jan van ‘t Hoff/Gospelimages.com

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Psalms 42-46
(950 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (42): This sounds like Job, just a roller coaster of emotion: Question, question, question, but then proclaim God.  God could be testing here?

A. We are certainly in the midst of great trials for God’s people — which we can see they’ve brought upon themselves — but it is possible they don’t see it that way.  Regardless, God feels distant — and remember who moved when He does! — and the writer longs to be close to Him again.

Q. (44): This Psalm says the authors are upright with God, are true believers, have lived up to the law, but they are being destroyed.  Can you explain this?

A. This reads to me like emotional writing of a person who does not understand what God is up to.  I am certain that among each of these generations of people suffering the losses and devastation, which will continue, there were those who remained faithful to God and did not bow to other gods.  But the problem is that “we” word, as in “we have been loyal to the covenant.”  That’s a whitewash at best.  Clearly many within the nation, including its rulers, have been completely unfaithful to God, and are suffering for it now.

My reaction to these verses is they sound like a child who is crying out in anger, knowing full well what they are being punished for by a parent, but saying, “I didn’t do anything!”

Q. (45:1): What king is being praised here?  I thought it was God, but then verse 2 says the king has been blessed by God.  I’m really not sure what’s going on in this whole Psalm.

A. The Psalm is written to the kings of the throne of David, i.e. Judah, it appears as a way of honoring them on a wedding day to a foreign wife.  It generates a powerful image of a king who is almost god-like in his abilities.  Of the actual kings who ruled Judah, only David came anywhere close to this description.  But, as we have seen with other types of writings, it establishes a “type” for a godly King, one that will be seen by Christians centuries later as having revealed an image of the Kings of Kings, Jesus Christ.

Video: Crying out to God in the Chosen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La_-wcHhEq0 

Spread the Word! Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalms 47-49
— Psalms 84-85, 87

Solomon's Proverbs

Day 183 (July 2): More of Solomon’s Proverbs — they are good ones and some are amusing, but true

Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org

Congratulations!  You have reached the half-way point of this Bible-in-a-year marathon.  I ran a marathon once.  I remember those people in the crowd shouting, “Keep going, you’re half way, you’re looking great.”  I won’t tell you what I wanted to shout back at them.  But for this blogs half-way point, my brain is jumping for happiness and I want to push on and learn more!  I hope you all are enjoying it too.  What a perfect way to commemorate than with some wisdom from Solomon.

If an internet search landed you here, welcome! This is Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Proverbs 25-29
(950 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Proverbs 25:6-7): Trusting in God requires that you are patient.  There are so many things that I would like to fast-track, but I am learning to know that if I wait for God to act that something more wonderful will happen than what I had planned for myself.

A. Patience is rarely considered a virtue these days, but it truly is!  And through patience is the only way God works.

O. (25:7b-8, 18): I know it’s because of doing this blog that I’ve changed my old way of thinking.  This verse comes into play when I think for myself “by saying something, what gain will it do?  Will it hurt anyone?”  I normally engage my “God filter” and remain quiet.  I had a situation at work the other day where expectations were wrongly placed because of miscommunication.  I asked God to give me words to speak.  He did and instead of joining bashing someone, God’s words lifted them up.  That felt so great.  Now my “God filter” is coming to me more naturally.  But, I still just usually pause and give myself a little time to process the situation, ask God for His words, then respond.  It’s so hard to give God control, to give up our own control, but when you do, it’s fascinating!  Same with verse 18.  Don’t say things that bring people down.  Lift them up!  Besides, if you ever want to see someone who is not perfect, just look in the mirror.

O. (25:14): This one speaks to me.  I tell my kids that if they do a certain chore, then they’ll get a reward.  Then, sometimes I tack on another one.  That brings distrust from them.

Q. (25:20): Does this mean that if someone is sad, let them be sad?

A. Not necessarily.  I would say it’s more about being insensitive to those who are sad, and either trying too hard to cheer them up, or not realizing their state of sadness and wrongly assuming everything is alright.

Q. (26:4-5): These verses are contradicting.

A. The “apparently” contradicting content of these verses is one of the most commonly “pounced on” examples used by non-believers who are eager to show the Bible as full of contradictions and therefore worthy of ridicule.  I think that this position takes much too low a view of what Solomon is getting at.  It is quite clear that the writer, or editor, is putting them together for a reason: If you’re trying to prevent people from noticing this “contradiction,” then you don’t put these verses next to each other!  What is that reason?  I would say that Solomon is giving two sets of advice to you as a reader/hearer, and it is up to you to decide how to use it.  There are times when we must discern whether it is worth the fight with a foolish person.  Do we stand our ground, and potentially waste a great deal of time in a pointless argument?  If so, it’s probably better not to argue in the first place — that would be verse 4.  But if you are convinced that by not engaging, you will leave the person proud in their own eyes, and thinking they have defeated you, then its probably worth the trouble — verse 5.  Sometimes the wisdom that Solomon is imparting to us requires us to use a bit of wisdom of our own.

Q. (26:8,13,25): These Proverbs talk a lot about the foolish, the lazy and hatred.  Maybe three characteristics of ungodly people?

A. Would that it were so.  I know far too many “godly” people who I would say fit into these categories.  These are simply part of human nature, and Christian and non-Christian — or Jewish and non-Jewish, as it were — alike can be susceptible to them.  Part of what Solomon desired, I suspect, was to offer people wisdom in the hopes that they would use it to better themselves, and not fall into the traps that are often the unforeseen consequence of being hateful, lazy, or foolish.

O. (26:26): Helped by gossipers then, I guess.  Today, we have the media.

O. (27:4): Jealousy is such a quiet emotion, but I think a lot of people, including myself — although I have learned to shrug it off — struggle with it.  My daughter is amazing.  If she hears someone else having a play date or arguing about whom is going to sit by whom, she is not bothered at all.  She’s my role model for that.  But, here it says that jealousy is more dangerous than anger.  That’s a good visual of how damaging it can be to one’s character.

Q. (27:8): What does this mean?  My grandma told me this verse when I decided to go to Hawaii for a college exchange program.  I have been one to go far from my nest.

A. I guess he’s saying there is much more potential danger away from home.  Think of what happened to the Prodigal Son when he got away from home (Luke 15).

Q. (27:14): I say, “Amen” as I am definitely not a morning person.  But, I always thought it was better to be “early to bed, early to rise” and be chipper in the morning.  So, is this just one of Solomon’s pet peeves?

A. I don’t think he’s talking about morning people verses those who sleep in, but I honestly don’t know what he’s talking about here.

Q. (27:15): I wrote “Jezebel” next to this.  But, I think this applies to everyone.  I think it is much harder to be around complainers, gossipers and pessimists.

A. Indeed.

Q. (27:19): To me, the face reflected is maybe the person people want to be, but a heart can secretly struggle with evil thoughts.

A. It can indeed, which is why God told Samuel not to be impressed with David’s handsome brothers back in 1 Samuel 16.  You look at outward appearances and can be fooled, but I look at the heart to see the true character of a person.

Q. (27:21): What does this mean?

A. As gold and silver are “tested” by the refining process — i.e. the more pure the gold, the better it holds up — a person is “tested” by how they react to receiving praise.  I see great wisdom in this verse.

Q. (28:7): Reflecting on my years as a teen, or even as young adults, I recall me and my sister’s choices of friends.  Some were great, some were good and some were really bad influences.  I don’t recall my parents ever trying to guide us on who we hung out with — sometimes it was who chose us.  But, even if they did, I think we would view their advice as meddling.  So, if parents are unable to influence their kids’ choice of friends, then it’s up to the kids.  I think that is the message here.  But how many kids will read this verse?

A. There’s no way to answer that.  The question you can answer is, “will YOUR kids read it.”  I feel that part of my responsibility as a parent is teach my daughters how to be smart about who to be friends with and who to trust.  But ultimately, as you say, it will be up to them.  I can only hope to show them the value of choosing friends wisely.

Q. (28:8): Can you explain this one?

A. If you exploit the poor to get rich, God will ensure you don’t get to enjoy the benefits of your labor.  Your money will end up in the hands of a person who treats the poor fairly.

O. (28:11): I bet this drives the rich nuts when they face someone is wiser than them.

Q. (28:19): This isn’t supposed to put down the entrepreneurial spirit, right?  We are supposed to use the talents God gave us.  This is saying that those who try for years to be something like an actor, but never succeed should quit and find something they are good at and work hard?

A. As with the verses we talked about above, there must be a level of discernment in our decision making, especially in something as important as our career.  We must be very careful that our entrepreneurial desires are not, as Solomon says, ultimately a fantasy.  If they are, we are in trouble.

Q. (28:23): I worked with two wonderful ladies in a preschool.  One would tell parents if their child had some issues, the other was bubbly and said the child had a great day — not always, but she dodged criticism of the child.  As a parent, I would want to know if my child was acting up — maybe he/she is bored, maybe they need more parent interaction at home, maybe it’s the terrible 2s or 3s — so I could investigate to see what’s going on.  The bubbly teacher said she didn’t want to bring shame or embarrassment to the parents.  It seems as if Solomon is saying that the honest teacher made the best choice when talking to parents?

A. I believe that most parents would want to be told about problems their children have, so I can see the value in being honest.  But I would hesitate to call what the other woman was doing “flattery.”  Flattery involves telling a person what they want to hear for your own gain, and it is intellectually dishonest.  It is barely above lying in my mind.

O. (28:26): I felt something change in me this week.  From the last question, you can see that I worked in a preschool last year.  Not my thing.  A little over a week ago, my husband met a muralist on the job.  (I painted my girls rooms with full-room murals.  It took forever, but I enjoyed it.)  They talked and she said she was interested in talking to me.  So, I gave her a buzz.  I sent her some photos of my work.  I thought she could just give me advice on how to start up in a business.  After talking to me once, we were going to meet on Monday.  Not a minute went by, and she called again and told me to wear my paint clothes — I had a little job without even meeting her.  It was glorious!  I loved it.  She’s a Christian and her incredible story of how she got started was an act of God.  So, I have really been fulfilled this week.  I also talked with a group of Christian moms about how, if we are thinking something bad, we don’t speak it, but we still feel it in our hearts.  We were talking about how we need to turn that off and see people for how they are and not criticize, even internally.  Good conversations!  Then, after the night had slowed down, I took a nice quiet walk with my dog.  But, lo and behold, we were not alone.  I haven’t felt God walk with me like that before.  I felt filled with glory.  I hope exploring the Bible like this has been a wonderful experience for you too!

Q. (29:5): Could you explain this verse?

A. Flattery is a “trap” of words: we tell people something — which we probably don’t actually believe — in order to profit from it somehow.  Solomon is merely pointing out the similarity of setting a real trap for the person.  It is verbal manipulation.

Congrats on reaching the half-way point.  And, it’s only going to get better.  We hit the New Testament September 24.

For further study: Why should I read the Bible? https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/bible-studies/reasons-read-bible.html 

Spread the Word! Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: Proverbs 30-31