Category Archives: Year-Long Bible Reading Plan

If You Love Me

Daily Scripture readings for May, set #2:

Hosea, chapters 4-6
Job 24
John 14:15-21
Revelation 1:9-20

“I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me” (Hos 5:15). This is a pretty loaded verse. The Lord desires to be sought. The the purpose of distress is to promote earnest seeking. The vehicle for seeking is the acknowledgement of guilt. And all of these things come from the Lord’s architecture. The first half of the next chapter in Hosea (vs 1-6) continue these themes.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about what I’m calling “a posture of learning.” This is a headspace/mindset that engages each day as if I do not necessarily have everything figured out. I’m being somewhat tongue-in-cheek here because everybody knows that we don’t really have anything “all figured out,” and yet I find myself often behaving as if I do. So I’m trying to adopt a posture of learning instead of posture of knowledge. The last verse of Job 24 would be a good example of a posture of knowledge, not learning. Job is very confident that he’s got it all figured out. He’s not very open to the idea that he might be wrong on some things. “If it is not so, who will prove me a liar and show that there is nothing in what I say?” (vs 25).

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). If you call yourself a Christian you will keep my commandments. Wait, nope… that’s not it. If you want to go to heaven you will keep my commandments. Hmmm, that’s not what this verse says either. IF YOU LOVE ME…

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one.'” (Rev 1:17). I’m enjoying Bryan’s posts on Revelation so far, and I will probably defer to him for substantive commentary on the Revelation readings. But for today I want to zero in on the “fear not” in Jesus’ declaration. This is SO COMMON. Jesus, Paul, the OT writers… they give this command so often. And for good reason, because I find my heart is so likely to fear instead of trust. But Jesus’ message is to fear not.

Daily Scripture readings for May, set #3:

Hosea, chapters 7-8
Job, chapters 25-26
John 14:22-31
Revelation 2:1-17

“Ephraim is a cake not turned” (Hos 7:8). Charles Spurgeon has a very compelling “morning” devotional on this verse. Check it out.

“Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14). Don’t spend too much time trying to fully understand God. To clarify: Seek him, and seek a knowledge of his ways, seek his face – and do those things with the intent to understand. But ultimately he is operating at a level far beyond our full comprehension.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). Is this as weighty and practical a proof text for the inerrancy of the New Testament as it seems?

“The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death” (Rev 2:11). “The second death.” What is that? Bryan has some insight.

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Have Mercy On Those Who Doubt

Daily Scripture readings for April, set #25:

Daniel, chapters 10-12
Job 22
John 13:31-38
Jude, verses 17-25

“Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia” (Dan 10:12-14). If we are to define “spiritual warfare” as conflict in the spiritual realm that is largely off the radar of the human realm, then this text is one of the more interesting accounts I’ve ever found. Situation summary: Daniel begins “praying” (humbling himself and setting his heart to understand), an angel is immediately sent to “answer” him, the angel is delayed in some sort of battle with the “prince of the kingdom of Persia,” another more senior-ranking angel (Michael) comes to aid the first angel, and the message eventually gets to Daniel. That is fascinating to me.

“Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you” (Job 22:21). I think I understand Eliphaz’s argument correctly. He is basically saying that Job’s suffering means that Job has sinned, and if he would just stop sinning then clear and visible blessings would come to him instead of his very clear and visible suffering. If this is indeed what Eliphaz is implying then Eliphaz has probably been hanging out with prosperity gospel preachers, because that is classic health and wealth logic.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). This is one of my favorite verses. It’s just so straight-forward and so compelling. Ever wonder how you might go about declaring to “all people” that you are a disciple of Jesus? Answer: John 13:35.

“And have mercy on those who doubt” (Jude, vs 22). Why? Why should we have mercy on those who doubt? Is it maybe because we too once doubted, and even still sometimes doubt? Is it because if not for the Spirit’s work in opening our eyes we would all STILL doubt? Yes. Have mercy on those who doubt.

Daily Scripture readings for May, set #1:

Hosea, chapters 1-3
Job 23
John 14:1-14
Revelation 1:1-8

“And the Lord said, ‘Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.’ Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ it shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God.'” (Hos 1:9-10). The people of Israel had sinned enough to deserve verse 9. Verse 10, then, is the definition of mercy. Along these lines, consider verse 23 of chapter 2: “And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'”

“I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me” (Job 23:4-5). This is my attempt at a paraphrase of what Job is saying here: “I wish God and I could just sit down and talk this out. I’d present to him my way of seeing things and I know that he’d agree with me. My way of looking at this situation is definitely the best way and I don’t think God would be able to change my mind on that.” It’s… well… pretty arrogant. PERHAPS Job didn’t deserve the suffering that he went through, but he definitely deserves the verbal rebuke that he gets at the end of the book.

“Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves” (Jn 14:9-11). This is some SERIOUS doctrine of the Trinity right here.

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw” (Rev 1:1-2). So then, the book of Revelation is God’s Word, via an angel, and recorded by John. That’s pretty straight forward. Unfortunately, it’s uncomfortably similar to what Joseph Smith claimed. What do we do with that similarity?

 

Daniel Is Sickened By God’s Will

Daily Scripture readings for April, set #23:

Daniel, chapters 7-8
Job 21:1-21
John 13:12-17
Jude, verses 1-7

“And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it” (Dan 8:27). This is Daniel having a vision about the future, about things that the Lord has planned and will allow/accomplish, and he is not encouraged by this vision. He literally gets sick over it. This is a good reminder to me that the Lord’s grand plans include things that I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen if it were up to me, things that might even really bum me out.

“You say, ‘God stores up their iniquity for their children.’ Let him pay it out to them, that they may know it” (Job 21:19). Job is impatient for justice to be done to the wicked, a sentiment I have shared many times. God has his own timing for this, however, and he is patient and merciful. God’s mercy toward the wicked as compared to my impatience is one of the things that makes him God.

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (Jn 13:14-15). The economy and functionality of authority and rank in the Kingdom of God is not the same as in the kingdom of man.

“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude, vs 5). Jude nonchalantly credits JESUS with bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, even though Jesus is never mentioned in the Exodus account. This would be worth pointing out in any discussion about the doctrine of the Trinity.

Daily Scripture readings for April, set #24:

Daniel 9
Job 21:22-34
John 13:18-30
Jude, verses 8-16

“For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy” (Dan 9:18). Wow, does Daniel ever NAIL the essence of the Gospel with this sentence. This is Daniel’s version of Psalm 115:1.

“One dies in his full vigor, being wholly at ease and secure, his pails full of milk and the marrow of his bones moist. Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having tasted of prosperity. They lie down alike in the dust, and the worms cover them” (Job 21:23-26). Rich or poor, everybody dies.

“Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him” (Jn 13:27). So is Satan to blame, instead of Judas? Does Satan entering Judas absolve Judas of responsibility for his actions? It’s a question worth pondering.

“But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively” (Jude, vs 10). Note that the destruction comes at the hand of instinct. In other words, the wicked in this text are instinctively doing that which kills them.

The Venom Of Cobras

Daily Scripture readings for April, set #21:

Job 19
Daniel, chapters 3-4
John 12:37-50
2 John

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25). This is an encouraging verse, right? Yes, it is. But just remember the context. Job just got done describing the way God had “kindled his wrath” against him. Job sees God as BOTH a redeemer AND sovereign over suffering.

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Dan 4:37). I am noticing a similar thing in this text as in the Job text above. God clearly is the one who sends Nebuchadnezzar into crazy town, for the very purpose of demonstrating his power to him and through him. And then, when it’s all over, Nebuchadnezzar is NOT bitter or angry toward God, but gives him praise and honor, declaring his ways to be right and just. Nebuchadnezzar does not see God as unkind or unjust simply because he allows/decrees suffering in his life.

“For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (Jn 12:43). How could this be? Could such a misplaced love come from logic, or from reason, or intelligence? Rather, an error of affection like this only comes from DISEASE. Enter the doctrine of depravity.

“For whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works” (2Jn 11). Whoa… what? Is this hyperbole? Merely greeting someone who has become apostate and no longer teaches the truth makes you an accomplice in apostasy? I honestly do not understand this.

Daily Scripture readings for April, set #22:

Job 20
Daniel, chapters 5-6
John 13:1-11
3 John

“Though evil is sweet in his mouth, though he hides it under his tongue, though he is loath to let it go and holds it in his mouth, yet his food is turned in his stomach; it is the venom of cobras within him” (Job 20:12-14). The paradox (or bummer, rather) or evil: it is pleasing while being poisonous. Oh Lord, may I not desire that which is venom.

“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (Dan 6:10). This is Daniel modeling the proper prioritizing of the glory that comes from man and the glory that comes from God (see the above Jn 12 quote).

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (Jn 13:3-5). It’s noteworthy to me that Jesus’ motivation for this well-known act of service is “knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands” (vs 3). We too know that the Father has given all things into Jesus’ hands. Evidently that knowledge should push us toward an attitude of serving others.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3Jn 4). This verse carries more weight with me now that I myself am a father and desire my children to walk in the truth.

Daniel Knows His Babylonian Literature

Daily Scripture readings for April, set #19:

Ezekiel 48
Job 17
John 12:12-19
1 John 5:6-12

“And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There” (Ez 48:35). What was merely an attribute becomes an identity, and furthermore, an identity that wasn’t formerly but is now and “from that time on.”

“He has made me a byword of the peoples, and I am one before whom men spit” (Job 17:6). This chapter is about how terrible Job is feeling, but I don’t want to miss that he again credits God with his afflictions (it’s worth noting how frequently this happens in Job). We all know enough about the Job story to know that God rebukes him at the end of the book, but it will be interesting to see if the rebuke is because Job is incorrect to claim that God is the source of his suffering.

“And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written” (Jn 12:14). This clear fulfillment of prophecy and the way it is worded makes me wonder if Jesus ever states in the gospels that he is aware that his actions are fulfilling prophecy. Does anyone know if this is the case? A quick Google search didn’t turn anything up for me just now.

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1Jn 5:12). It’s interesting that the “believing” is not present in this verse, but only “having.” The concept of belief is used elsewhere in John’s writings, but it just stands out to me that it isn’t used here.

Daily Scripture readings for April, set #20:

Daniel, chapters 1-2
Job 18
John 12:20-36
1 John 5:13-21

“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank” (Dan 1:8). Don’t miss the fact that Daniel’s issue with potentially defiling himself is with only the FOOD of the Babylonians, though we see only a few verses earlier that he was forced to study the literature and language of this pagan nation. Verses 17-20 reveal that God himself gives Daniel and his friends great understanding and wisdom in the literature of the Babylonians. Daniel refuses to break God’s direct command, but is not afraid of immersing himself in the culture of Babylon.

“Surely such are the dwellings of the unrighteous, such is the place of him who knows not God” (Job 18:21). Bildad is listing all the ways that wickedness doesn’t end up profiting a man in the end. He’s correct, right? I’ve pointed this out before and I’ll do it again: the book of Job is confusing to me. God’s rebuke to Job’s friends (at the end of the book) comes because they spoke wrongly. Is this chapter an example of Bildad speaking wrongly? It sure doesn’t seem wrong.

“Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (Jn 12:31). A few years ago I spent some time studying the main views on the “millenium” concept found in Revelation 20. This verse would seem to support the “Post-Mil” and “A-Mil” positions.

“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (1Jn 5:18). This is a really heavy-hitting verse. How should we understand the phrase “does not keep on sinning”? Should we assume that it means “never sins again”? I think all of us would admit that we have missed that mark entirely.