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 rescuer

Day 136 (May 16): “Mighty God” rescues those in need, Joyful are those follow God, Mercy and compassion, Rescue me from darkness, Sing God’s mercies

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 144-145
Psalms 88-89
(~979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 144): I have talked about how David seems to tell God what to do in his psalms.  He, of course, praises Him. You said that David had such a strong relationship with God that we should pay close attention to how he praises and learn from him.  I was just thinking about how Moses and Abraham walked closely with God.  In this psalm, David praises God for his creation. Again, he asks why God should care so much for humans in the midst of the Earth and it’s contents, amazing as they are.  I think you are right, Rob, we should learn from David’s psalms.  How amazing it must be to be David to be able to talk with God so frankly, yet with reverence.

A.  I like it.  There is a great example in the Psalms on praying: it involves bearing our soul to God, and not being concerned with how it might sound (even to ourselves).  The Psalms seem to indicate that God honors such brutal honesty.  There is simply no reason to “fake” a prayer life with God: He knows us through and through anyway.

Q. (Psalm 88): This Psalm says that it is from a “son of Korah.”  Didn’t Korah do something bad?

A. Yes, he did.  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.  Seven Psalms are credited to them.  Part of the redemption to me is we see the element of grace at work.  Our past does not have to be our future solely 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 family’s past.

Q. (Psalm 88): Heman cries out in this psalm, basically saying he has been doomed since his youth and that God isn’t helping him.  Is he whining too much about his own problems instead of focusing on praising God?  When is it OK to whine to God like this?  I would think that you could ask God nicely and know that He will answer you one way or another.  Does being humble mean not asking God for things?  My husband doesn’t like to ask God for anything because we are so blessed.  I do agree with him that we don’t need anything.  God provides for us nicely.  On the other hand, if something is troubling us, I was always taught — mainly through hymns — to lay my burdens down to God.  And, I’ve always likened my relationship with God to my relationship with my parents — if something is wrong, they should know about it to see if they can give me some good advice.

A. Well, God is well ahead in the “parent” category: He already knows all that we do or think, so turning to Him is surely a good idea.  As we discussed in the previous question, I would say the balance to strike for is the one you described for David: brutally honest, yet reverent.  Do you have a legitimate need?  Ask God for it (Matthew 7:7-12), though be prepared for God to say “no” as well.  Also, I would recommend seeking God’s will for your heart when it comes to what is legitimate “asking” and what is “whining.”  It sounds like your husband is placing great value upon the things you have been blessed with, and so he does not want to feel “greedy” by asking for more.  And that is a legitimate position, so long as this contentment is not being a hindrance to serving the Kingdom somehow.  Remember that the blessings are never the end point of ministry in and of themselves: we are blessed to be a blessing to others.  So if asking for more allows you to be generous, then by all means, ask away (With the same understanding that God has the right to say no)!  Ultimately, you have to know your own heart.  I don’t know what kept God from healing Heman in a way that satisfied him, but his earnest desire to call God out for it is something that we should desire: we should (reverently) call on God’s name, and seek His will, and if His answer doesn’t satisfy us, seek some more.  In the end, it might not be God that changes, but us.  I hope that helps unravel the matter.

Q. (Psalm 89:15-16): I have to admit praising someone throughout the day never seemed like something I wanted to do, knew how to do or thought there could be rewards for doing it.  Then, it seems like when we get to heaven, I remember reading about how we would sing praises all day.  I’m thinking, that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me, especially since my voice is far from angelic.  But, the deeper I get into the Bible, the more I sing hymns and find myself smiling as I sing them. And, I thought I would never listen to modern Christian music.  Now, it’s about all I can stand — gladly!  Rock and country — not all of it — just seems so lewd, loud, down, inappropriate, etc.

A. Much of the that type of description comes from the various “glimpses” that we are given into heaven over the course of Scripture, and some of it has been taken a hold of and exaggerated by artists and musicians (where these liberties take the visions outside of the clear teaching of Scripture).  So I wouldn’t put too much stock in being part of a heavenly choir for all eternity, but I suspect that that sounds like a pretty cool way for some people to “spend it.”

For further reading: There are many reasons for singing to the Lord, https://www.globaldisciples.ca/blog/reasons-the-bible-tells-us-sing-in-worship/

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

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalm 50
— Psalms 73-74

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

Helpless without God. Silhouette of woman raising her hands to the sky, praying with God

Day 131 (May 11): David begs God to listen, Helpless without God, Those who care for weak, Evildoers blind to God’s goodness, Torn friendship, Rulers judged

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 39-41
Psalm 53
Psalm 55
Psalm 58
(~979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 39): Do we know anything about Jeduthun?  Why would David dedicate this psalm to him?  To me, this psalm is asking God to pay attention to David, even though he is but a single breath to God when talking about the billions of people God has overseen for thousands of years.  So, why should God care?  From my humble knowledge, I would think that David is belittling himself to God.  I think every one of us are important to God, even though He has billions of souls to watch over.

A. He is referred to as one of David’s choir leaders in 1 Chronicles 16:41-42, and he represented the priestly family of Merani, one of Levi’s three sons from which all the priests originated.  We do not have any information on why David would dedicate this particular Psalm to him.  I think David is in a moment of realization of just how fleeting life is, and just how small and humble even a great king like he is before the Eternal One.  Certainly God sees things differently then we do.

Q. (40): David did a 180° turn in attitude in this psalm from the previous one, but we don’t know if they were written successively.  I don’t understand verses 6-7.

A. Very likely the order they are assembled in is important: the editor is attempting to move through a variety of emotions in each of the books, so that’s part of the reason reading Psalms in order is a worthwhile exercise.  You will see repeatedly in the OT that God is ultimately NOT interested in sacrifices and offerings so much as He is in obedience.  David can see that it is not the dead animals that God is truly interested in, but rather David’s heart.  This, as I said, will be a recurring theme of the prophets which we are approaching: God tells Israel repeatedly that He is not pleased with them, not because the are not making the right sacrifices — they are — but because their heart is not in the right place.  They are using the sacrifices as a way to avoid a relationship with God, and that defeats the whole purpose of the Law.  If you think that the sin management is the end point, then the relational aspect of the covenant between God and Israel is completely lost.  Watch for how this theme is revisited.

Q. (41:1): I would say that I normally mingle with those who are good-natured, mostly Christian, and probably about the same income level and societal status.  Sounds a little unchristian, huh?!!  Lately, I have been seeing people in a different light.  I have kept the poor — someone who looks homeless or maybe immigrants from another country — at arms length, and on the flipside, those who are a much higher societal status than me thinking they wouldn’t want to mix with me and we wouldn’t have much in common anyway.  I am smiling more at everyone.  Today I smiled at three men who looked like immigrants were crossing the street.  Normally, I wouldn’t give them much thought.  But, they gave me a big smile.  A week ago, I was picking up something from Wal-mart.  The cashier wasn’t smiling much.  I asked him how his feet felt after working all day.  He said, “you have no idea.”  He said they never stop aching.  I got the feeling that no one cared.  But, that conversation gave him an outlet.  Did you know McDonald’s has $1 large ice teas right now?  I told the drive-thru gal that I couldn’t believe they were only $1.  She said, “they should be with as much ice as they put in them.”  She made me chuckle, so I drove back through and gave her a couple dollars for making me smile.  So, I’m looking at people thinking that, no, they are not like me, but we all belong to God and how would He want us to treat each other.  How did Jesus treat others, no matter what income or title?  With respect, compassion and love.

A. You’ve hit upon a major concept that Scripture is clear on: when you come to fully understand what God has given to you, you cannot help but have a generous heart.  That heart, I feel, is what will allow you to be effective in all sorts of ministry situations with people of all “social” levels that you might encounter.  It certainly has been that way for me: as God has been at work in my heart, I find that I am more and more generous with my time, finances, and love toward other people, even those who could be considered my “enemies.”  That’s a big part of what it means to mature as a Christian, and it leads to the type of conduct Jesus is talking about in the Sermon on the Mount — praying for enemies, turning the other cheek, etc.  That kind of thing sounds crazy to those people who don’t know Jesus, but it will make more and more sense to you as you continue to walk closely with God.

Q. (41): This psalm sounds like David is on his death bed.

A. Could be.

Q. (55): I wonder who David is talking about here — the companion who betrayed him.  I’m just guessing Joab.  At the end of this psalm, David says that God will punish the wicked.  He says this often in other psalms.  I wonder if he does it to help remind himself to stay on God’s path.

A. It could be Joab, but there’s no reason to assume he’s talking about one person; it might be a conglomerate of several people over his life.  I think you’re right about David’s purpose for writing.

Q. (58): David is criticizing rulers in the beginning of this, lumping them in with sinners.  I don’t remember where, but there was scripture about God picking our rulers for a reason.  I believe it said that we must respect them because He put them there.  With the last election, some felt joy with the results and some felt glum.  Nevertheless, we know that God placed them and we are to respect them.  But here, David scorns them.  Is David in the wrong?

A. The Bible speaks of submission to authorities — including political ones — in the course of what they require of you does not contradict the clear teachings of Scripture (i.e. if the king tells you to murder someone, you can ignore that).  What David is saying matches that: kings and other rulers should be very careful of being unjust, because to do so runs the risk of the judgment of the true King.

For further reading: Apostle Paul’s take on God’s rule of submitting to authority, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-limits-of-submission-to-man

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

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalms 61-62
— Psalms 64-67

Righteous inherit earth

Day 130 (May 10): Lord fights enemies, Wicked delight in themselves, Lord gives love and light, Don’t envy evildoers, Righteous inherit the earth, Confessions

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 35-38
(979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 35): David pleads in his psalms.  He pleads for protection for himself and vengeance for those who are evil.  Today, I feel like we make requests to God more politely and reverently in our prayers.  I do ask God for things, but I ask knowing his answer may come now, later or never.  It’s up to Him.   Are we just more polite today? Or, do we know more about God to know he works on His time, not ours?

A. There’s no reason to assume that David ALWAYS pleaded for God to help him, only when he was in desperate situations, which sometimes got written down as poems.  Still, the Bible tells us that God declared David “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22), which tells me that he knew a lot about how to properly approach God.  I would be very cautious in assuming that we know more about God than he did.  Maybe we should all pray a bit more like David.

Q. (36): What is it in sinners that makes them not see evil is bad.  You get caught, bad things happen, like going to jail, hurting others, losing your job, etc.  Yet, knowing they will be punished in some manner is not enough of a deterrent to cause them to make wise choices.  Does the Bible address this issue?  And, as Christians, what is our job in helping this problem?

A. Sin, as I learned from a minister in high school, always pleases, but only for a season.  It is too simple for us to consider sin as “just the bad stuff that people should stop doing.”  Sin almost always carries some sort of short-term benefit, that’s what makes it a temptation in the first place.  And when we start doing the “math” on making a decision we know is poor, we’ve probably already lost that particular struggle.  Sin very rarely is about the big, monumental decisions, and is much more likely to be about small, easy choices to stray from God — the classic slippery slope.  It’s amazing to me how we — myself included — can be blinded to the realities of sin for so long, and then in one moment, whether we are caught, or just realize our error, all the “joy” that the sin brought us is instantly gone.  That, ultimately, is how sin traps us: It offers us something that we desire — we are NEVER going to fall into things that do not tempt us — but ultimately, leaves us with nothing but pain and heartache.  If we could just say, “why am I doing this?  I should stop!” I suspect the world would be a better place.  But it simply isn’t in our nature.  That is one of the clearest things to me about why Jesus came into the world.  He came into this world because more than anything else, we needed a savior — we would be hopelessly chained in our sins without Him.  And the ultimate irony?  Without God’s light, we will never be able to see how the sins that we love so much do nothing but leave us enslaved to them (John 8:34).

Q. (37:5-6): What does this mean?  How do we commit work, chores, homework, etc. to God?  I guess we can never do too much for God.  But, we do need to sleep, eat, clean, etc.  Rob, is there anything in the Bible that describes how we should devote our time to God?

A. Paul calls us to devote our entire being to God in Romans 12:1-2.  Here he suggests that we are to offer our bodies as “living sacrifices,” that is, given wholly over to God, and doing everything for His glory.  That starts with our increased desire to see God as the ultimate center of all things anyway, and the more we can focus on God, the more of our lives that will be given over to Him — work, school, cleaning the house, etc.  Remember that God does not merely call us to serve Him, but each other: by serving others well, we reflect His love to more of His children.  If we commit to making more and more decisions that are clearly God honoring — choosing to work sacrificially rather than being lazy for example — I think we will grow to see what God desires for us to do with each moment of each day.

O. (37:8-9): Wow, Psalms covers so many topics.  I didn’t think I would have many questions or comments, but they are rolling out!  We were talking about anger in our small group (Andy Stanley DVD study series, Life Rules).  I was talking about how I get something in my head that someone does or does not do and I get so mad that I feel like a volcano about to explode.  However, on a recent “episode,” I just said, “phooey, I don’t want to feel like this.”  I un-confrontationally asked the person if we could talk so I could glean some reasoning for what I was mad about.  And, poof, the reasons came out and made crystal clear sense.  That short conversation lifted a many-week weight off of my shoulders.  Comments Rob?

A. Anger is a tricky thing.  In the right hands, it can allow us to use our passions to confront others about their wrongs — and hopefully have them do the same for us — but we must be careful that anger is used well.

Two things that the Bible clearly says about anger: 1) in your anger do not sin (Ephesians 4:26, quoting Psalm 4): that is, there is nothing inherently sinful about being angry, but if we lose control of our anger, and it leads to us sinning by improperly using that anger (say by hurting someone or even killing them), then we have violated this ideal.  The other advice Scripture has is 2) don’t let the sun go down on your anger (also from Eph 4:26).  That is, don’t hold onto anger, for doing so leads to bitterness and all kinds of other problems.  Be very careful about holding onto anger, so that you can avoid the “volcano” scenarios you describe.  My wife and I determined that we never went to bed without resolving an issue we could resolve that evening — obviously this doesn’t work in all situations.  By doing this, we generally prevent small areas of anger from disagreement becoming big ones.  Anger is compounded with time, so working it out “before the sun goes down” is certainly sage advice to me.

Q. (Psalm 37:12-13): These verses paint an interesting picture, but we don’t know if it’s accurate because it comes from David, not God.  I have come up with some of my own ideas of what God is thinking.  I don’t know if that’s OK or we should just take the Bible word for word.  Or, does it matter?  Just that you think about it gives glory to God?

A. I would say that we should do our best to take the Word of God SERIOUSLY is the best way to look at it.  Expecting perfection in every word is simply not a standard that the Bible applies to itself, but that does not mean to me that the Bible is any less inspired by God.  We don’t know exactly what “inspired” means (there’s a lot of guesses though), but it is clear that Scripture tells us that all in Itself, including verses about God laughing at people’s foolishness as here, ultimately comes from Him (2 Tim 3:16).

Q. (37:32-33): Why is there such an attraction for some people to overthrow godly people.  Why do people want to be bad?  I really don’t get that.  Is Satan so powerful that God cannot pull these folks away from sin?  Is God relying on Christians to save these sinners?

A. Scripture clearly tells us that God is more powerful than Satan (1 John 4:4), but I believe that neither God nor Satan can do anything but influence us: we must ultimately make the decisions to renounce sin ourselves.  Why does God not pull us away from sin, because WE ARE UNWILLING to give it up!  We are lost in the seduction of sin and its temporary benefits, and so are unwilling to hear God’s call (through the Spirit) to give it up.  We don’t want to hear that in the midst of our poor decision-making.  David is writing about a very black and white world where he is right, and his enemies are wrong, but the reality for us is we are all wrong!  We all go astray, and chose ourselves over God.  It was that way for Adam and Eve, Cain, and every human being who has followed since.  Honestly, that to me is part of the answer to the question: we like to see the godly fall because that makes US feel better about our own personal failings.  Then we can say things like, “…and they were such a good person” and condescendingly think that we are better than people who we hold up as godly, even if the people in question never wanted themselves to be held up as godly themselves.  When given the choice, far too many of us will choose the path of sin and evil, not the path of God.

Q. (37:37-38): And is this to say that when people are on trial, if they are found innocent, they are godly and if they are convicted they really are guilty, because God did not rescue them?

A. I think that that’s a bit too simple a way to look at it.  God can do as He pleases (from the human perspective) with our understanding of guilt and innocence.  I would be very cautious about drawing too many conclusions about guilt and innocence just from these verses.

Q. (38): For someone who has followed God most of his life, David seems to have so much darkness surrounding him and knocking on the door to his heart.  As a follower of God, I would think that his heart would be much lighter.  Did his sins cause the depressing thoughts?

A. We can certainly see the ways that David’s poor decisions in the latter half of his life haunted him.  It cost him his son and countless lives in war and a plague.  I think I would be haunted by that.

For more information: How are the Psalms organized? https://bibleproject.com/guides/book-of-psalms/

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

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalm 39-41
— Psalms 53, 55, 58

 

Light and salvation David praises God in all His power, creativity, majesty, protection

Day 129 (May 9): See God, Light, Salvation, Stay with me, Shield, Cry out, Punish evil, God’s glory, King, Exalt God, Shelter, Happy repenters, Guilt-free

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 27-32
(979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 27): This psalm says to me that as David was devoted to the Lord, sometimes that meant heralding His name and looking down on enemies, and other times, curling up under God’s protection while He does the fighting.  In the latter, when he was surrounded by enemies, I hear in David’s words that he tries really hard not to be scared, but it’s hard knowing how fierce and conniving his enemies can be.  And then in the next set, David asks God to show him how to live, maybe so he doesn’t have to be afraid?  That’s what I get anyway.

A. Sounds correct to me.

O. (28): I am hearing a lot of recurring emotions from David.  1) His patience wears thin.  He has a lot of responsibility, in which he asks God to give him direction.  2) And, when he doesn’t get answers, he becomes impatient and scared and starts begging God to forgive him.  3) His endurance is tested because his enemies keep lurking and lurking and lurking.

Q. (30:6-7): Is David showing us that God turned away from him because of his ego?

A. Yes.  It appears that David forgot that his prospering was from God, not his own efforts, and God appears to have shamed him into seeing how things really are.

O. (31:9-13): In these verses, we revisit many of David’s “ghosts” that are haunting him.  I am reminded of how much David endured for God’s name.  No, he was not perfect, but he was devoted to God.  These verses have renewed my respect for such a soldier of God!

Q. (31:22): Why are some prayers not answered until someone cries out?

A. Why is any prayer answered at all?  God, in His mercy, chooses to listen to His children and show compassion for their needs, but He is by no means obligated to listen to them.  Part of the act of faith that comes in praying is trusting that God not only controls the results of the request, but also the timing of the answer.  I would imagine that in some cases, God desires for us to wait until we have nothing left to do but turn to Him, and then rescues us.  It would certainly produce a proper understanding of Who is ultimately in control of our lives.

O. (32:5): It’s so wonderful that God has an open ear for us to confess our sins.  I know when I’m hiding guilt or shame, it eats at me.  So, thank you God for this outlet, letting us off the hook with just a heartfelt “sorry.”

For further study: Five ways God answers prayers, https://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/articles/spiritualformation/five-ways-god-answers-prayer.html

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

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalms 35-38