Daily Scripture readings for September, set #13:
It’s interesting to me how matter-of-factly Judge 4 states that Deborah, a woman, was Judge in Israel. All other passages from that particular era suggest that the culture was very masculine-oriented, and I would think that a woman becoming Israel’s leader would be recorded as a big deal.
Asaph, in Psalm 83, asks the Lord for judgment on Israel’s enemies. He mentions in passing that the result of the judgment would be an awareness/acknowledgment of the Lord. “Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek your name, O Lord. Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them perish in disgrace, that they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth” (vs 16-18). His request for retribution is simultaneously a call for the Lord to be proclaimed, even in those who are to be judged.
Mark 5:30 is a very strange verse, as it seems to imply that Jesus’ power over diseases was something that he was sometimes unaware of. “And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?'” That Jesus was unaware of ANYTHING doesn’t really square with the rest of the Gospels, but the verses immediately following verse 30 seem to reinforce the idea. What an interesting situation.
Paul, in continuing his argument from the first half of 1 Cor 9, states that he refuses to exercise his rights as an Apostle because his ONLY concern is the advancement of the Gospel. He then says this in verse 16: “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” Notice that he calls his preaching a necessity. I listened to a sermon about this concept in Romans 1 just the other day, where Paul refers to himself as a “debtor” to the Greeks/Barbarians in preaching. The sermon pointed out that this debt/necessity for Paul was not an obligation to simply obey God, but rather an earnest desire to share the truth with those who were lost. His preaching, and the necessity of it, was mainly out of love, not simple obedience.
Daily Scripture readings for September, set #14:
The concept of “free will” is always a hot topic of debate in evangelical circles, and it’s something that I think about a lot. At this point I’m feeling like the best clarification that can be brought to the discussion is a solid definition of what free will entails. For example, Judges 7:22 says this: “When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army.” Does this mean that the Lord subverted the Midianites’ free will, by FORCING them to kill each other? If that’s true, then what is the benefit of having free will, if the Lord can override it whenever he wishes?
Many will recognize the text in Psalm 84 from a worship song commonly sung in evangelical churches over the past decade. This isn’t so much a note on Psalm 84 as just a general question: What happens when we SING a truth like this, instead of simply reading it or reciting it? Does truth have any more ability to pierce hearts and minds when it is paired with music? What do you think?
Today’s reading in Mark 6 further prompts my questions about Jesus’ healing power. Verses 5-6: “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.” This certainly seems to suggest that Jesus’ inability to do miracles in verse 5 (“he COULD do NO mighty work”) was due to the people’s unbelief in verse 6.
“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” This verse in 1 Cor 10 is so encouraging, and yet I noticed just now that the wording implies that God allows us to be tempted… just not beyond our ability.