Read Through the Bible – Week 21

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Welcome back to “Read Through the Bible.”

We started our journey through the Bible in March, and I’ve watched more and more people decide to travel through God’s Word with us. How exciting! We’re approaching the half-way point in our trip through the Bible; but, up to this point, we’ve devoted every Thursday to reading a part of the book of Job.

What have you been thinking about as you’ve walked through the book of Job?

The Bible tells us that Job was “blameless and upright” (Job 1:1); and yet, for some weird reason, God allowed Satan to push Job to the wall to see if he (Satan) could push Job hard enough to make him curse God to His face (Job 1:11). We’ve read stories about how Job’s three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) tried to “comfort” Job – but often in unhelpful ways. Eliphaz begins by pointing-out that the innocent always prosper; and that, since Job isn’t prospering, he must have done something wrong. Bildad then steps up to the plate and tells Job “if you seek God earnestly and plead with the Almighty, and if you are pure and upright…He will rouse Himself and restore your prosperous state.” (Job 8-5-6) And, then, Zophar steps forward and clearly tells Job that he’s lucky that he didn’t receive even worse: “Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.” (Job 11:6) And the rest of the book of Job is devoted to working through these three different and widely divergent understandings of human suffering.

What do you think about when you’re facing times of adversity? Do you believe that you are facing a tough time in life because of something you’ve done wrong? We can, indeed, suffer for doing wrong – but, many times, we place an increased weight upon our backs when we blame ourselves for what’s going wrong. Do you believe that, if you simply try to live your life in the right way and plead with God, God will be roused and decide to pour rich prosperity into your life? Or, maybe, you’re a pessimist who believes that life could always be worse? What does that say about the God you worship?

This week, I’d like to encourage you to think about adversity and about how you face times of struggle as a person of faith. Where is God when you’ve traveling through a tough time? What promises of God are most important to you when life isn’t what you think it should be? How can the fact that God restored Job’s fortunes encourage you as you’re moving through a tough time – knowing that better days are ahead?

Here are next week’s readings:

Sunday: 2 Corinthians 11-13 – Monday: Exodus 29-32 – Tuesday: 2 Samuel 20-24 – Wednesday: Psalms 60-62 – Thursday: Job 41-42 – Friday: Jeremiah 42-46 – Saturday: Luke 5-6

Blessings!

 

 

 

Read Through the Bible – Week 19

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In just a few more weeks, we will have read half of the Bible!

The Bible is filled with incredible variety! We’ve read stories about people like Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Job, Joshua and Ruth, Jeremiah and Jesus. We’ve read some peace-filled psalms that remind us of God’s love, and we’ve read stories of bloody battles and human tragedies. We’ve read two of the Gospels – Matthew and Mark – and are beginning our journey through Luke in the coming week. I hope that you’ve found this approach to reading through the Bible helpful in your journey of faith, and hope that you’ll continue to journey with us in the coming weeks!

The opening of Luke’s Gospel is both abrupt and pointed. An angel of the Lord speaks to Zechariah and proclaims the birth of the fiery preacher named John the Baptizer. The angel Gabriel announces the birth of Jesus and Mary responds by singing what has come to be called “The Magnificat” – a song that declares that, when the Reign of God breaks into the world, the mighty will be humbled, the exalted will be brought low, the hungry will be filled with the food that they crave, and the rich will be sent away empty. And then, we read a story of the birth of Jesus that many of us heard in childhood. And it’s a story of shepherds and angels, a baby lying in a manger, a mother who quietly watches everything happen while pondering it in her heart, and a nearly-unmentioned father who quickly fades into the Biblical background and disappears.

This week, I’d like to encourage you to think about how you’ve come to know God. Did you learn about God by going to church, or did your parents teach you what you know? Did you learn about God as a child, or did you start learning about God later in life? Did you experience a time when you felt that you had been touched by God in a special way, or has your journey of faith unfolded in a more quiet way? How is your journey of faith similar to the journeys of other people that you know, and how is it different?

And now, shift gears and think about this….

How has your journey through nearly half of the Bible changed the way that you think about God? Have you been surprised by anything you’ve read? Has your understanding of God changed as you’ve encountered the God who leads His people to safe, still waters while remaining a God who strikes-down the first-born of Egypt without mercy? Where does Jesus fit into the picture? What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus today? How is your life being shaped by what you’re reading – as you read about a God of power and authority who creates long lists of rules; and who, yet, continues to forgive us when we break those very same rules for the sake of Christ?

Here are the coming week’s readings:

Sunday: 2 Corinthians 6-8 – Monday: Exodus 21-24 – Tuesday: 2 Samuel 10-14 – Wednesday: Psalms 54-56 – Thursday: Job 37-38 – Friday: Jeremiah 32-36 – Saturday: Luke 1-2

Blessings!