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 

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

Wisdom King Solomon was known throughout the land for his wisdom and happy people.

Day 146 (May 26): Solomon’s good reputation, Leaders, Prosperity, Wisdom to rule justly, Without the God’s direction, work is futile, Blessed are children

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
1 Kings 4
Psalm 72
Psalm 127
(979-967 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Kings 4:20-34): This account greatly contrasts from his father’s.  Why was Solomon so blessed and David’s reign was so tumultuous?

A. Um, let’s hold that thought until the story is completed.  But the answer to your question is David’s sins.  Solomon has done pretty well to this point, but things are about to turn for the same reason David’s kingdom fell apart.

Q. (Psalm 127:3-5): I love these little sprite verses.  They make me smile.   Here it says “how joyful is the many whose quiver is full of them (children).”  We were going to talk about this before, but decided to hold off.  Here it sounds like having a lot of children is a desirable thing by society.  Nowadays, families are normally much smaller with 1-3 children.  Are there any verses that address how God views the many ways of a planned family via birth control?

A. Well, obviously, artificial birth control is a modern invention undreamed of in the days of the Bible, but many of the ways that society has shifted in the last two centuries reflect the movement away from large families (i.e. they became the exception and not the norm).  First, until the modern age, no one planned for retirement (partly because a lot of people didn’t live that long), and so if you did, you were fully dependent upon your children.  So if you had more kids, you were probably pretty safe.  This was especially true of women, who would have depended upon the care of a male relative (most likely a son) after she was widowed.

Regarding the issue of how the Bible approaches family, there’s a lot going on: many of these issues have to be held in tension, but I think there’s a consistent thread.  Part of it has to do with the distinction between OT and NT.  In the OT, the main goal for each generation was raising up a new generation who would love and have a healthy relationship with God so that they to could inherit the Promised Land.  That obviously makes family paramount, so verses like these surely express the sentiment that they felt: they honored God by having many children.  But after Jesus (who as we have discussed, was NOT married), the mission focus was expanded to not only Jews, but also the entire world, while not losing the focus on an individual family.  The individual family was still prized by God: it is still HIS primary design for how His loved is passed from generation to generation, whether among Jew or Christian.  But with Jesus as the example, God set a new standard: family was not the ONLY way to spread His word.  So to some people who were not married — like Jesus, including Paul, and most major western Church leaders, and this would include women — God gave them the task of spreading the word about His actions and having only the congregation or Church as family, rather than offspring.  In other words, they were called to celibacy.  It goes back to Paul’s discussion of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-15: God has blessed different people in different ways — some He (clearly!) desires to have children, and others He calls to a life of celibacy that they might follow Him more closely for their lives or some portion of it, they are not mutually exclusive.

The problem is that even though God honors BOTH paths equally — as long as we are faithful to Him while on these roads — we find that our society often confuses isolation and not being married with being incomplete.  Part of that incompleteness in our world is removed by having children, but sometimes having children is actually a very selfish way of dealing with feelings of isolation or loneliness.  That is often a very tragic situation.  Now, I am not saying that God cannot redeem such situations, but as we have discussed over these months, how God acts to redeem us and WHAT HE IDEALLY DESIRES are often very different things.  When we allow anything other than God to provide our fulfillment, even children, we have created an idol, however noble its creation might appear to be.  We are not living as the men and women He desires us to be if we are seeking ultimate fulfillment in a child rather than God.  So basically, as long as we keep first things first — that is, God above all else — then I think we have a great degree of freedom as Christians to seek out a partner to have children with within community.  We must honor God with our families, whether they are biological or bound by the Spirit.

For further study: Nuclear family symbolic of Christian relationships, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/biological-family-church-family-yes/

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: Proverbs 1-4

Return to glory

Day 139 (May 19): Return to glory, Asaph begs God to rescue them, pleads for release from ancestors’ sins, Israel listen and be blessed, Judge oppressors

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 79-82
(~979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 79): This is the first time where I have read that the Israelites are asking to be lifted from the sanctions caused by their ancestors’ sins.  We have read that the sinners are told their punishment will be handed down through their family, but I don’t remember any descendants naming from where their pain came.

A. We will see that as the generations continue after David — and to a lesser extent Solomon — the people will become increasingly corrupt, often because of their leaders, the kings.  And there will be a high cost to the people’s sin, that will not just be borne by those who created the situation, but by those who live after it.  In this situation, the results of the previous generation’s sin will be SO obvious that I think you will understand the situation clearly.  Hang in there.

Q. (80): Can you tell us the significance of calling the Israelite’s God’s grapevine?

A. Grapes were one of the most important agricultural products in the world during that day.  In a day without sanitary water (or knowledge of hygiene), wine (the main product of grapes) was the safest thing to drink — though it had a much lower alcohol content in those days, so no worries about the entire society being drunk.  So good grape vines would have been precious to the people, and they would have understood not only the value of the grapes, but also the soil, and the amount of time a farmer would have had to invest in setting everything up correctly.  Asaph is calling upon this imagery — he won’t be the last, Isaiah and Jesus will do so as well — to examine the ways that God did all of this for His chosen people, but now the “vine” is threatened.

Q. (81): Will we see in future text a reason why God is letting this destruction happen?  From Asaph’s pleadings, the Israelites sound like they are in total despair.   Also, is it really as bad as they are writing about?  Reading this whiny text, I think in today’s lingo with the response, “drama mama,” but I am judging by today’s standards.  Is this destruction truly true?

A. Oh yes.  And the reasons for it will be clear.  Jeremiah will make sure of that.

Q. (82): I don’t think God would appreciate verse 2.  That’s why I ask is all of this really inspired?  Who decided what was “inspired.”  Or, do I need to be patient and see that all of Scripture does fit into the Bible’s big picture?

A. So what you are asking is: because God has allowed the true voices of His people to be heard (even if He sees things differently!), the words can’t be inspired?  I would disagree with that.  One of the most valuable things that the Bible offers us is the true, unfiltered, look at how His people reacted to the things that were happening to them.  There will be some truly horrible events that will unfold in our next couple of books, and I do not feel it is in any way unreasonable for the Spirit to inspire His people to speak with their true voices.  I wouldn’t worry too much about God taking “offense” or “not appreciating” something printed in the Bible.  He is bigger than all of our words, and I believe that we in no way offend Him when we bear our soul and beg for His mercy.  It is, to me, a great testimony to the amount of love that He has for His children.

For further reading: How is the Bible inspired by God? https://www.moodybible.org/beliefs/inspiration-and-inerrancy-bible/

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalm 83
— 1 Chronicles 29:23-25
— 2 Chronicles 1:1
— 1 Kings 2:13-46
— 1 Kings 3:1-4
— 2 Chronicles 1:2-6
— 1 Kings 3:5-15
— 2 Chronicles 1:7-13

 

God judges

Day 138 (May 18): God alone judges, Wicked will suffer, Incomparable God, God, where are you? Learn from ancestors’ mistakes, Teach God’s ways to children

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 75-78
(~979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 75): We have talked about deterrents — punishments that happen to people who “misbehave.”  The thought of being judged for all the things I have done is a big deterrent for staying on the path to righteousness.  It also helps me cope with seeing someone making unholy choices, yet living a lifestyle I may be envious of.  I may not feel rewards now, but I will later.  On the flip side, it is easy to think, “na nanny boo boo, I know better than you do” that those who are acting out will get their punishment.  But then, a stronger feeling comes over to help them so they can also enjoy the afterlife.  Is there any scripture that gives advice on how to turn people toward God without turning them away because they perceive us as “preaching,” “crazy” or a “know-it-all?”

A. There are, and I would say that they primarily come from one of Solomon’s contributions to the OT: Proverbs, the book that imparts the wisdom of the ages.  Since that book is coming up soon on our little list, why don’t we hold on to this one and re-examine it down the road.

Q. (Psalm 76): The psalms have talked about God’s anger, like this one in verse 76:7.  Can you explain this when we usually think that God is loving?  Is it fair to compare God’s anger to a parent’s?  It seems like today’s society tries to foster peaceful relationships.  To children, we say use your gentle hands and nice words.  Lawyers try to settle disputes in mediation.  Yet — I’m not being sarcastic, just saying what I think the Bible says — our role model gets angry.  Personally, I would get angry too … if I were God.  Of course, I’m not and maybe that’s the answer.  God can be angry, but we should try to be more loving.  Maybe it’s the OT vs. the NT?  Doesn’t God’s anger calm down immensely in the NT?

A. It only appears that way if you focus on Scripture from a certain perspective.  Unfortunately, that perspective has become the dominant one in modern Western society: the view that God is ONLY love, and therefore would “never” be angry or judgmental about sin.  But this perspective tends to gloss over — at great expense frankly — the idea that God is holy — set apart — and just, and He is in charge of what goes on and what does not.  When you have a “God” who allows you to do whatever you want with the understanding that they will ALWAYS love you (how does that sound in the parent metaphor?), you can see how things can get pretty messed up pretty fast.  Much of our tolerance of sin in the public eye in society today is, frankly, due to our abandoning the idea that there is an external source of justice and right and wrong — God — and when we do that, anything becomes permissible.  It is certainly something that Christians should be aware of and speaking out against.

One other quick note: we all have our biases when it comes to reading Scripture: there is simply no way to avoid it.  We tend to read — and mentally focus on — our favorite stories at the expense of other Scriptures that are a bit harder to reconcile with our belief system.  So I am not simply attacking those who want to focus on God’s love at the expense of all else: many others can and do read scripture and see no evidence of love, but only of a wrathful God waiting to strike down sinners.  If that’s what you want to see, it’s there.  The trick, I think, is to not allow yourself to be closed-minded to the possibility that there is always more that God desires to teach us about Himself.  If we have that mentality, I believe that we will be much less likely to fall into the trap of Biblical “bias.”

Q. (77): I completely understand that I’m not supposed to understand all of God’s reasons.  It’s not my place, nor anyone else’s.  I think it’s hard for humans to have patience with God, especially when we have read about his great rescuing miracles, like the parting of the Red Sea as is stated here, and wonder why he can’t grant our one simple request.  I know … He has His reasons!

A. I suppose it would depend upon what the request was and why, deep down, you wanted it.  Keep in mind, the nation of Israel was chosen by God not only to be His people, but to bring about salvation to the entire world through the Jewish God/man Jesus.  So that, in my mind, creates a necessity for some of the places where God clearly intervenes in history: if there is no nation — because they’re wiped out by Pharaoh’s armies — then there is no salvation for the world.  I think always keeping the salvation of the entire world in the back of our minds as we read through the OT is a great way to see why certain events unfold the way that they do.  That certainly gives weight to some of the things God does, doesn’t it?  (From Leigh An: This makes me also weave in one of Jesus’ comments when he says things have to be a certain way for the Scripture to be true.)

Q. (78:2): Why does Asaph want to teach in parables and why did Jesus?

A. Parables are a way of presenting truth in story on levels that can reach very different people in different ways.  You can hear the “surface” truth and just get a good story, or if you desire, you can dig into the words and often discover greater “pearls” that the author intended to be found but not everyone will seek.  That, by the way, is probably why they make such great sermons — you can attack them at multiple levels and lay the “inner” parable out for everyone to share.  Jesus will address this issue in his earthly ministry in Matthew 13.

Having said that, what Asaph is doing here is using Israel’s history as instruction on what the people SHOULD be doing, and not truly disguising ideas within the words.  He is not really using the “parable” concept in the same way that Jesus does.  He is using it more like Stephen will do in Acts chapter 7: convict the people of their present sin by looking at sins of the past.

O. (78:40-55): This is an amazing image: God causing all of this terror to the stubborn pharaoh and his people with frogs, gnats, blood, locusts, hail, death, YET he peacefully walks the Israelites out of this plague-ridden land and protects them, like a shield.

Q. (78:65): I don’t think comparing God to a warrior waking from a drunken stupor is very respectful.

A. I agree, but it’s an interesting image, no?

Q. (78:67-68): Can you tell us again why God chose Judah’s descendants for the throne instead of Joseph, who appeared to be the chosen line?

A. I do not have a good answer to that question.  From Jacob’s deathbed blessing (Genesis 48), we have seen the power of Judah grow the further we have come.  The best reason I can see for the move is that Joseph’s descendants (Ephraim) were not very good leaders (they were the ones responsible for losing the Ark when it was in Shiloh), so God rejected them as the prominent tribe and selected Judah instead out of His own purposes.  This will continue with Jesus, whom Revelation will call the Lion of Judah (Rev 5:5).

For further reading: Where did evil come from? https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-qa/what-the-bible-says-about-the-origin-of-evil/

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalms 79-82

David Ark Jerusalem The Ark of the Covenant is on the move

Day 137 (May 17): Humble to God’s greatness, Righteousness is hard, knowing wicked’s condemnation helps keep you true

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
Psalm 50
Psalms 73-74
(~979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 50): Do we know if God instructed Asaph what to say in this Psalm?

A. Yes, the text is inspired.

Q. (73): Asaph seems to have a full spectrum of the destinies of those who are good and those who are evil.  We don’t read about Asaph having talked to God much.  Do we know where he gets his knowledge?

A. We do not.  All we know of him is that he was one of David’s musicians and choir leaders.  But I think we can assume that this position came with great responsibility for Asaph to have a heart for God himself, and I see no reason to assume that he was not faithful in his walk with God.  David seems to generally be very good at picking people … with God’s help.  Even that rat Joab served David well for a long time.

Q. (74): What devastation is going on here?  It sounds like enemies are destroying the temple.  Someone invaded Jerusalem?

A. If you mean during David’s time, then the answer is no.  If you mean in the OT, then the answer is yes, but…well, I don’t want to spoil the story.  The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel will lay it all out for us down the road.

For further interest: Get Asaph’s story, https://hellofromhighland.com/the-struggle-of-asaph-and-the-goodness-of-god

Shop: The big guy who created the universe, well, He cares for all who trust in Him, https://livinlight.org/product/god-is-good/

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalms 75-78

God's unfailing love Israelites in Jerusalem for Holy Days. Priest reads God's laws from Torah

Day 135 (May 15): My hope is in God, Harmonious living, God’s unfailing love, He cares for the humble, Wait for God’s plans, God knows all, Rescue me

Child Evangelism Fellowship Europe – www.cefeurope.com / www.teachkids.eu

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 131
Psalm 133
Psalms 138-141
Psalm 143
(~979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalms 131, 134): I missed asking this question yesterday.  Who are the pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem?  David is certainly at peace in these songs.  In 133:3, it seems David is talking about the afterlife again.  He must be looking forward to it after all the turmoil in his earthly life.

A. No, he’s not talking about the afterlife, at least not directly: there would have been three different times of the year that faithful Jews would have made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the holy days there.  These songs were envisioned to be songs that these men and women would sing on the steep climb to the holy city.

Q. (138:6): This verse brings to light a dichotomy of desires.  Our culture — and I would think that most cultures now or in the past — pushes people toward striving to do their best, climb the ladder, achieve financial prosperity, etc.  However, that “success” is often accompanied by pride.  I was wondering what God’s take is on striving to do your best.  Many years ago, I was discussing the math curriculum with my daughter’s teacher: that school’s curriculum starts math one year early.  So, my daughter did First Grade math in Kindergarten and Second Grade math in First Grade.  I thought it was a little too much, too soon.  They said that if they start it when it’s supposed to start, the students are bored with it.  The school says on its answering machine that it’s rigorous — and, it is.  It is a wonderful school, don’t get me wrong.  Anyway, the teacher said God wants us Christians to be leaders.  Rob, can you address this?

A. I believe that God has created each of us for a purpose, and in some cases, that purpose is to be leaders — of nations, of Fortune 500 companies, of major universities — but ALSO leaders of families, leaders who care for the poor and needy, and leaders in ministry.  Can you see how you would take a very (very very!) different path to get to be a leader of some verses others, and yet, they are all leaders — all important in God’s sight.  So I would agree with your school’s assessment, to a point: I think God desires leaders who are willing to follow after HIM, and not be led by their ego or paycheck.

But I think I could also argue that God desires non-working parents, laborers, followers, helpers, servants, and assistants.  The janitor who is passionate about a clean floor is honoring God through what he has been given, just as a God-honoring CEO is.  Even if the janitor does not feel that he wants to be a janitor all his life, he can still choose to honor God in his work, whether as a leader or servant.  That, I think is what it comes down to: honoring God through whatever He has given you to do as your task in life, even one moment at a time.

Q. (138:7): There’s that right-hand reference again.

A. Yes.  That was the “power side” where a warrior kept his spear or sword, or a king kept his closest advisor.

Q. (139:23-24): I find it interesting that David asks God to test his faith.

A. Yes he does.  As we discussed a few days ago — when I pointed out in our discussion of Psalm 19 and seeing our faults (Day 127/May 7) — one of the best ways to make changes in our lives is to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in the process.

Q. (141:7): This is quite a visual.  I was just wondering where the practice of burying bones came from.  My family is from rural Kansas where most everyone has a family plot at the cemetery.  Now that I’m more worldly, I know of cremation.  Does God care if we are buried or cremated?  I have always liked burial because then your family can visit it, read the headstones, place flowers on it and just reflect.  But, in our conservation-minded society, it seems to be more savvy to choose cremation.

A. It is Jewish tradition (as well as other societies such as the ancient Greeks) that they bury their dead, as opposed to those who consumed the bodies in funeral pyres, which would naturally connect more with cremation.  But the REQUIREMENT to bury a body is not found in the Bible, so there is a great amount of leeway there.  I do not think it matters to God one bit.

O. (143:8-10): This would be a great passage to read every morning!

For further reading: More on David asking God to examine his heart, https://thebiblesays.com/commentary/ps/ps-139/psalm-13923-24/

Shop: Put your own heart to the test with God’s two rules, https://livinlight.org/product/love-rules-t-shirt/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalms 144-145
— Psalms 88-89

Lean on God David hid from King Saul in a cave

Day 134 (May 14): Lean on God, Praise God for all He is, God give us victory, God will fight battles, May Jerusalem have peace, Thanks for God’s protection

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 103
Psalm 108-110
Psalm 122
Psalm 124
(~979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

O. (Psalm 103:1-6): Beautiful!!!

O. (103:12) From Rob: 103:12 is one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture.  I think it speaks great volumes of the grace God has for His children that long predates Jesus entering the world.

O. (103:20-22): I am way excited to someday see heaven and all the angels.  It must be a wonderful sight!

Q. (Psalm 103): I was just thinking of the many faces of David when I read this verse.  When we first met David, he was a shepherd and could play the harp really well.  Then, we see him battle Saul and other kings victoriously over and over again.  But, in many of these psalms, he seems to hunker down, hiding from the enemy, deep in prayer.

A. Life was surely full of spiritual mountains and valleys for David.  It is no surprise to me that his recorded prayer life reflects this.

Shop: Believe in God or not, but those who do are at peace, https://livinlight.org/product/live-for-the-lord/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalm 131
— Psalm 133
— Psalms 138-141
— Psalm 143

Praise God. Hand reaching up to an orange cloudy sky

Day 132 (May 12): Praise God, Protection, My salvation, Punish wicked, Praise God for answering prayers, God’s deeds are awesome, God’s blessings

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 61-62
Psalms 64-67
(~979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 62:1,12): I have been thinking about this first verse for a while now.  I think about how this whole earth is interconnected.  We ask God for something, but all the pieces have to be in place before the event you requested can be granted.  Have you thought about how all of our lives are a wonderful web that affect one another?  Also the last verse of this psalm brings up another question.  My brother-in-law once said that if you believe Jesus is God’s son ,you’ll get into heaven.  I heard the other day from someone that that is in fact true, but there are various treasures in heaven that are granted to those who have done God’s will.  Is this true or do we need to wait for this nice bit of info?

A. Almost by the definition of our limited perceptions, we are incapable of seeing the “full picture” of what God is doing over the whole earth via His wonderful “web” as you put it.  But sometimes, God graces us with the ability to see clearly the ways that He has been at work in the lives of various people, and I can tell you that those are some of the most precious memories of my time in ministry.  To say the joy is doubled when that moment of clarity is shared with someone else doesn’t even begin to describe it.

One of my favorite Christian writers, Dallas Willard wrote an entire book about the life changes that happen in the life of a Christian called The Divine Conspiracy.  It’s a very long but wonderful examination of the process of sanctification — the process of becoming more and more like Jesus.  He basically states that your brother-in-law’s argument misses the ENTIRE POINT of the gospel message itself: the power of God is available to you right now, not just when you die, and to just coast through life hoping to “get into heaven” when you die is, frankly, an insult to the true gospel.  It is not that your brother-in-law’s argument is technically wrong — I want that to be clear, especially if he’s a reader! — but rather that it misses the point.  God desires us to not just go to Heaven when we die, but to BRING HEAVEN TO EARTH TODAY!  We are called to proclaim what God has done, bring others to Christ and set them on the road of discipleship, mend a broken world in whatever ways we can, and grow to be more like Him.  It is our right and, frankly, our responsibility as Christians.  Will there be a “reward” for doing so outside of “getting into heaven?” I think you can already see how odd that sounds in light of what we’ve discussed.  There are some hints of it that we will get to in Paul’s letters, but to me, the ultimate reward is doing so for the sake of the King Himself.

Q. (64:5): This does seem true today that evildoers can get a following much easier than those who do good works.  Does it just seem that way because evil chatter is much more talked about than the good news?

A. What you’re describing is just one more example of the way that our fallen nature seeps into our everyday decisions: in many cases, we have a “bent” toward doing the wrong thing, following the wrong crowd, etc.  Is it easier?  Most likely.  But that is all the more reason to see the evil in such things and do our best to flee from them.

Q. (64:7-10): It seems like this is a circling theme in the Bible that won’t stop: People sin, God comes down on them, the sinners see how mighty God is and turn to him for a short time, then are lured back to sin.  You really have to keep your nose in the Bible or doing God’s work to fight the urge to go to the dark side.

A. I’m pleased to see that you’ve been able to track this as a major theme of Scripture, and I promise you that it will never change, in the Bible or in us.

Q. (65:4): What temple is David talking of?  If it’s Heaven, it’s a wonderful thing to think about.  Or, is it that if you follow God, you will enjoy more of God’s blessings on Earth?

A. God does not withhold His favor from those who do not follow Him (Matthew 5:45), so the main “benefit” that we can see of following Him is relationship with the Trinity itself.  This can be, in and of itself, an amazing blessing.

Q. (66): This psalm opens with praising God.  We praise God out of respect, reverence and the fact that it makes you feel good to be backing someone so awesome who created and cares for all things.  But, does God desire praise?

A. In looking for a good way to answer this question, I came across this website that gives a great answer, check it out: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/does-god-command-our-praise-for-his-sake-or-ours

Q. (67:7): Do you believe that the United States is blessed by God?  And, other nations see it and fear God?

A. One of the worst mistakes we can make as American Christians is to believe that we as a nation are UNIQUELY blessed by God TO THE EXCLUSION of other nations.  (Does that make sense?)  As the world’s most powerful and richest nation, we are clearly blessed by God, but this does not mean that we are in a unique relationship with Him as Israel was at this time — neither, for that matter, is the modern state of Israel.  All of the covenant promises that are made by God up to this point, apply ONLY to the ancient nation of Israel and its people.  We must be very careful about misapplying promises made to a particular people at a particular time, even if these promises give us great assurance and we do benefit from them.  I personally greatly dislike those who claim that the U.S. is uniquely blessed by God, because such people rarely see that God has made no such promises to us via a covenant.  Our covenant, sealed in the blood of Jesus Christ, is quite different.  Want to know what it says?  Note the words that are spoken to you the next time you are offered Communion or Eucharist.  It’s one of the best summaries around.

For further insight: How does one prepare for taking communion? https://www.christianity.com/jesus/following-jesus/communion/examine-yourself-before-taking-communion.html

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalms 68-70
— Psalm 86
— Psalm 101