Bible in a Year: Day 99-105

Readings: Numbers 21-25, Psalm 36

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light” — Psalm 36:9

Our God is the fountain of life, and the source of all light. In the Numbers reading I read the classic story about Balaam and his donkey. I still don’t completely understand all that is going here. God seems to tell Balaam to go with the Moabites, but then gets angry with him. In the end Balaam can do nothing but follow God’s lead and bless the Israelites three times instead of cursing them. 

I often forget how blessed it is to be following God. Not that God doesn’t call us through suffering, to follow Jesus in the way of the cross, but truly that life is in him. That in him is the fountain of all life! This story reminds me that ultimately God is the one in control, he decides who is blessed and who is cursed. He is our protector and our strength.  

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Bible in a Year: Day 98

Reading: Numbers 15-20, Psalms 35

And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.’ — Numbers 20:12

The waters of Meribah, one of the more confusing passages in the story of Moses & the people of Israel. I do not know if I ever will understand the hows and whys of the Lord barring Aaron and Moses from entering the promise land. It seems so perfunctory and unexpected after all that Moses and Aaron have been through. Some have said it was because of the anger that Moses exhibited, but it was not the first time he was angry. Some have said it’s because he hit the rock instead of calling to it, God told him to “tell” water to come out of the rock. And perhaps this is true, because it does mention that he strikes the rock twice. But the first time God calls him to bring out water, it’s by striking a rock. So even if he is calling Moses to a greater level of faith, it still seems like the punishment does not fit the crime.  

Of course, perhaps it is even a blessing in disguise. After 80 years of leading around two generations of Israelites, perhaps Moses is just tired. Perhaps it is time for his leadership to run its course. He has successfully moved beyond the generation of “grasshoppers” to the one that will take the land, it is time for him to fade and be with God. 

Moses is continued to be called one of the greatest leaders and the giver of the law. How much does this put a blemish on his life. Would Clinton say that he did not “end well”? I do not know and I don’t know when I will, but this passage will probably continue to bother me for some time to come. 

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Bible in a Year: Day 87-97

Reading: Mark Manuscript pages 17-27 (Chapters 6-10)

And he immediately said, ‘I believe, help my unbelief!’

If you hand is causing you to sin, cut it off

For whoever will lose life for my sake and the gospel will save it. 

The greatest shall be last and slave of all.  

And throwing off his mantle he lept up and came to Jesus. Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want’, he replied, Master I want to see. 

I am now officially behind in my year bible reading. But it wasn’t for lack of reading the bible. I just returned from Catalina Island for Long Beach State InterVarsity’s spring conference.  It was a blast! During that time I had the privilege of leading 14 students through the middle third of the gospel of Mark (affectionately called “Mark 2”).  So while I’ve already gone through Mark, here are some thoughts from studying this section inductively for 30 hours.

some implications of Mark

some implications of Mark

Mark 2 covers two things. First it covers who exactly is Jesus. The disciples are not sure, they don’t understand his identity. But finally after it clicks and they proclaim Jesus “the Christ!”.  It takes Jesus doing every lesson that points to him twice. Two feedings, two healings, lots of time on boats. But Jesus is gracious in that sense, giving the disciples time to discover who exactly he is. Everything happens in cycles until you understand.

But once they discover he is the Christ (chapter 8, page 20) then we move on to something just as pressing. What does it mean that he is the Christ? For on page 20 Jesus begins to tell them about his fate. That he will be mocked, killed and on the 3rd day rise again. And Peter doesn’t like that. So he pulls Jesus aside and begins to rebuke him. How often do we try to lead Jesus and tell him what we think is the most appropriate way to go! Jesus reasserts his authority and begins to explain to all who follow what it actually means to come after him. It means denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Jesus. It means losing life. It means trusting that Jesus will give you life if you lose it.  Jesus is asking the disciples–he is asking me– will you lose life to gain it?

Along with that comes messages about how to deal with sin (cut it off), how to be greatest (be last), and how to believe (ask Jesus to help your unbelief).  All of this was incredibly convicting for our group.  We had amazing times of prayer, confession, and application as God opened His word to us.

And finally we ended with the story of Bartimaeus. A blind beggar unashamed to cry after Jesus, who leaps up leaving behind his only possession to come before Christ and ask for what he wants. Because Jesus asks him, “what do you want?”, because Jesus is a servant of all, he is our model!  He receives his sight and, without a pause, follows Jesus on the way. Our model, first is Jesus, but then Mark also gives us this blind beggar as the ultimate model of faith in action. And that is enough to make me pause and ask God, please increase my faith!

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Bible in a Year: Day 84-86

Reading: Numbers 10-14, Psalm 34, Proverbs 11:2-25

Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now. — Numbers 14:19

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give and only suffers want.  Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.  — Proverbs 11:24-25

The promise land is in sight, 12 scouts are sent to check out the land and they discover a land that is fruitful! It is flowing with milk and honey (as God promised). It is time to go in and take the land.

But the scouts are afraid, they are afraid of the inhabitants of the land. They don’t believe, and why should they? Why should a rag tag bunch of former slaves be able to defeat any of these nations? They come back and let the people know. There are but two (Caleb and Joshua) who can truly see, they see that behind this rag tag bunch is the almighty God who has already taken them this far. But they are outweighed and the people rebel, almost killing Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb in the process. God’s anger rekindles and he promises to wipe out the Israelites once again.  But Moses challenges God, that for the purpose of God’s own glory he must protect and remain faithful to His people.  And yes, continue to pardon them as He has ever since Egypt.

I want to intercede the way Moses does. He does so honestly with God, he invites God to be God, and he holds God to what he knows to be true about God. This is the way I want to pray. 

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As I read through Proverbs today I was challenged by the verses above. In the past few years I have become a lot more anxious about finances as they have become tighter, but in that I have lost the generosity that I had been so blessed by earlier in my life. I don’t want to live like that. I want to trust in God alone.  Help me, Lord, to have your generous spirit and to know that you are my provider.

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Bible in a Year: Day 79-83

Readings: Numbers 1-9, Psalm 33

Our soul waits for the Lord, he is our help and our shield. 

I remember whey Numbers is named thus. In the first nine chapters there has been a census taken, gifts given, people delegated. It’s an administrative wonder. The creation of nation after God was a very complex task. It further makes me wonder at the leadership of Moses and the reliance on God during that time.

What stuck out to me in my readings this past weekend was a verse from Psalms, Our soul waits for the Lord… I have never taken time to notice the plural here. The communal nature of waiting upon God. I have thought about community, but never as a community of souls. A community of people created to be eternal and to hunger after God in a way that is deeply spirit driven and Spirit quenched.

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Bible in a Year: Day 78

Readings: Psalm 32, Proverbs 10:22-11:1, Leviticus 26-27, Luke 10:25-11:54

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. — Psalm 32:10

A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight. — Proverbs 11:1

But woe to you Pharisees!  For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. — Luke 11:42

Leviticus, done! It ended with vows made to the Lord. Vows were a big deal to God in Leviticus, and the way one went about a vow was important.  But having finished Leviticus quicker than I expected I read a little bit of every book that I’m in.  

It was interesting what stood out. Psalm 32 was a song of repentance, the singer sharing how he held in his sin and it caused him to waste away, until he confessed and asked for the Lord’s forgiveness. Proverbs continues to compare the wise and the foolish, and then this little gem came out. God’s love of justice, a just weight is his delight! And then in Luke Jesus begins taking on the Pharisees again, now that he has sent out the 72, he is on his way to Jerusalem and they are questioning him. This time it is a no holds barred condemnation of their lifestyle, their love of the limelight, their hypocrisy. And this was interesting: their ability to exactly tithe every single resource God had given them, but forget justice! What does this mean? I think the Pharisees were so careful about being pure and being right before God, in the rituals that God had given them, that they had forgotten to be just as careful about God’s call to love neighbor and live justly. I see this tendency in the church quite often. Where the focus is on bible reading, quiet time, individual prayer (all good things, mind you), but what gets lost is the care for the poor, fighting for the oppressed, and living just lives.  

May my life be a delight to the Lord! 

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Bible in a Year: Day 77

Readings: Psalm 31, Proverbs 10:1-21, Luke 8-10:24

The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense. — Proverbs 10:21

Then turning to the disciples he said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that  many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and di not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.’ — Luke 10:24

This is a particularly rich section of Luke. Jesus heals people, he feeds 5,000+ with five loaves and two fish, Peter declares him the Christ. The 12 are sent out and so are the 72. The kingdom is on the move! After 600 years of silence God is speaking, and his voice can be heard in the words of Jesus as he tells the parable of the sower, in the actions of Jesus as he calms the storm, and in the actions of the disciples as they go to town, heal the sick and proclaim, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near.”

Makes me think of this song:

Build your Kingdom HERE!!

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