Scripture reading for June 25th: Romans 9
Paul had a great desire to see his own brothers, the Jews, saved! In fact, he was willing to be cut off from Christ in order to see them come to know Christ! (Romans 9:3) This was the same attitude that Christ, Himself took when He went to the cross on behalf of His brothers! Paul had the Holy Spirit and he reflected God’s heart for the Jews as well as all people!
The Jews should have been the first to recognize Christ. They had the law, the covenants, and the promises of God through the Old Testament Scriptures as well as the lineage of Christ flowing from their line through Abraham! But Paul went on to point out that not all who descended from Abraham were God’s children of promise! (Romans 9:7-9) It was through Isaac that offspring would be reckoned. And even Isaac’s offspring, twins Jacob and Esau, found God’s promise flowing through Jacob and not Esau! This was announced before they were born! Not all Jews were part of God’s plan. Was God unjust?
Paul concluded that the Jews missed out on God’s promise. “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.” (Romans 9:30-32)
We learn that we can all, like the Jews, miss God’s promise by trying to work for our right standing with God. We must simply believe in Jesus Christ and rest in the promise of righteousness by faith that has always been the way of God’s children. Have you trusted in Christ?
Scripture reading for March 7th: Joshua 18-21
“So the Lord gave Israel all the land He had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as He had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them, the Lord handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” (Joshua 21:43-45)
God is faithful to His people! I have lived nearly 62 years and found this to be true personally. Our family has been through a number of trials during our journey here on earth. When we farmed, we experienced a severe drought in 1974 and harvested very little. We had been farming only a few years and really could not stand a crop failure. But God brought us through! We had a fire in 1975 that destroyed a large hog building and a large number of animals. It was the only building that was not listed on the insurance policy! God brought us through again! In 1976 we had a tornado strike our farm. It destroyed barns, cattle sheds, machine sheds and trees on both sides of our house. We all survived and God took us through! In 1981 a severe economic crisis hit agriculture as a result of government policies and high interest rates. Many farmers lost their farms and we were deeply in debt, too. God showed us a plan and brought us through again! In 2001, we were 2 miles from the center of a 6.9 earthquake that shook our house, church and city in Olympia, Washington. God brought us through again! I could go on, but I am sure you are understanding my point about God’s faithfulness!
In today’s reading, Joshua is dividing the land because the war in Canaan to possess the land is essentially over. (Joshua 18:2) It took seven years of fighting and following God’s instructions. Not one enemy could stand up against them when they were obedient! Not one promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ever failed! God’s Word is a proven commodity. When everything else in the world is shaking and the worst appears to have happened, God is faithful and His Word is true!
“Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as He has promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises He gave through his servant Moses.” 1st Kings 8:56
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35
Scripture Reading for February 21st: Deuteronomy 1-4
The name “Deuteronomy” literally means “second law”. Deuteronomy is quoted directly in 17 of the twenty seven New Testament books and alluded to nearly 80 more times. This book is a record of four sermons given by Moses to the congregation of Israel in the last months of his leadership. It records lessons he learned and wanted to pass on to the next generation who would possess the promised land.
Moses has led the nation for forty long years around the wilderness. A journey that should have taken less than two weeks stretched out because of grumbling and complaining and doubt and unbelief. (Deuteronomy 1:26-27) Moses, himself, will not get to enter the promised land due to his own dishonoring of God at Kadesh. (Numbers 20:8-12) Moses seems to blame the Israelites for his own sin. (Deuteronomy 1:37) God does hold leaders to a higher standard because of the revelation and intimacy they share with Him. Moses is trying to impress upon this next generation why their parents suffered consequences of the wandering and death.
Moses also preaches to this next generation to inspire faith in God. His questions to them are typical of the Jewish style of teaching. In chapter 4 he asks them about God. “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” “And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:7-8) The obvious answer is “none!” They are a special people marked by God traveling with them. They are marked by the holiness and love of God’s law which sets them apart from all other nations! They must be careful to teach these truths to their children and grandchildren!
From these first chapters of Deuteronomy, I see several key lessons for us today. First, a record of the past history of God’s dealings helps the next generation learn faith. Moses wanted to pass on the lessons he learned so his children and grandchildren would enter in and possess all God intended for them. We must honor our elders and learn from them. Secondly, the Law, represented by Moses cannot take us into the promised land on our own effort. We need grace and faith in the sacrifice for sins and cleansing. Moses, himself, disobeyed God’s holy Word and was forbidden to enter Canaan. Third, God promises victory to His followers. He disciplines and warns them of potential trouble so that they might succeed. God is truly for his people!
“Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.” Deuteronomy 4:39-40
January 6th Scripture Reading: Genesis 12-14
About 2000 years before Christ or about 400 years after the tower of Babel, God spoke to a man in Ur of the Caldeans in the land that is now called Iraq. This man’s name was Abram; he was about 75 years old and married to a lady named Sarai. They were childless and already beyond the years of childbearing.God seems to specialize in hard cases. He likes to challenge people to believe him when he speaks. God speaks to Abram and gives him eight specific promises: (1) I will make you a great nation, (2) I will bless you, (3) I will make your name great, (4) You will be a blessing, (5) I will bless those who bless you, (6) I will curse those who curse you, (7) All peoples of the earth will be blessed through you, (8) To your offspring I will give this land (Canaan). (Genesis 12:2-3, 7.) God then asks Abram to leave his home and go to a land that God would show him. Abram does exactly what God asks him to do. With promises like that, who wouldn’t want in on these blessings and future blessings? We get to see the beginning here of God’s plan to form a people who would by faith obey and follow him. Abram is told that God will make him a great nation when he doesn’t even have a child. Abram is told all nations will be blessed through him. He is promised blessing and protection from God Himself. How can this be? God sovereignly chose Abram, revealed the promises and asked for obedience. Abram believed and acted. Faith is so simple really. Faith looks at God who made the promises and chooses to believe that the one who made the promises is able to fulfill them! That’s exactly what God is calling us to do! Trust in the offspring of Abram, Jesus Christ and receive the blessing promised to all peoples of the earth! He also asks us to bless Abram’s offspring and the nation they formed, Israel. He asks us to believe him now and be blessed and be a blessing. Will you trust him and obey? “Yet he (Abraham) did not waver in unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:20-21 “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29