Thursday, May 24, 2007


Clearly...this didn't pan out with wedding craziness...hopefully I'll be back soon...


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Day Twenty-Three (23)

A little hiatus there...Reading today: Genesis 48, Psalm 22:1-11, Matthew 9:14-26, Acts 13:26-52

Genesis 48
Yet again, we see the reversal of younger son being blessed over older son. In God's Kingdom there is no entitlement. You cannot depend on your parentage or your privilege (see John's Baptist and his discussion with the Jewish elite!). Isn't it ironic that Joseph is upset with Jacob? I mean, Joseph was the youngest and received all the blessings and favouritism and now his own younger son is getting blessed and he is upset!

Psalm 22:1-11
This Psalm gives powerful imagery to Jesus on the cross. v2-3 "Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief. Yet you are holy." I pray for this kind of trust in the character of God!

Matthew 9:14-26
John's disciples come to ask Jesus about fasting. Jesus contrasts his ministry with that of all the Old Testament prophets - celebrating versus mourning, unshrunk (new) cloth versus old cloth, new wine versus old wineskins. Jesus is completely unique - of course, as readers of the story we have the inside track on this one. Jesus is the Son of God, the fulfillment of all the Messiah is supposed to be.

Acts 13:26-52
A wonderful part of the story. A great summary of the Good News in Jesus Christ, using many OT Psalms and prophetic words. Again, there is the contrast between the Jewish leaders who crave the adoration of the people (v. 44-45) and the believers filled with the Spirit. Notice in v. 46 how is the Jews who have judged themselves unworthy of believing in Jesus. Yet v. 48 says all who were appointed believed. There is definitely a tone of 'the elect' here, but at the same time, those who don't believe have not been chosen to not believe but rather they have judged themselves unworthy.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Day Twenty-Two (22)

Reading today: Genesis 46-47, Psalm 21, Matthew 9:1-13, Acts 13:1-25
Genesis 46-47
Is Joseph here setting up the conditions of the Israelite's slavery? They give everything to the Pharoah so that he has absolute control...just because they don't have any food (aside: why don't they eat their livestock rather than selling it to buy grain?)

Psalm 21
I don't know the context of this Psalm. Has david just been restored to the throne? Again, I am struck at David's insistence that God has given him everything his heart desired. We know that David was known as a man after God's own heart. Thus, it only makes sense that if they shared the same will and heart, God would grant David his desires. Are our hearts after God's own heart? Do we desire what God desires? Or are we caught up in selfishness, self-glorification (as subtle as it can be)?

Matthew 9:1-13
Another loaded passage...what's new for the Gospels I suppose.
First, Jesus heals a paralyzed man - how? by saying his sin's are forgiven!! To Jesus, forgiveness and healing are intertwined, within the same activity, covered in the same declaration. The prevalent idea that forgiveness is about our 'eternal state' or is only 'spiritual' couldn't be further from the truth!

Then, Jesus makes a direct statement of his mission: "I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough" (13). We must be continually reminded that nobody is good enough, elsewise we slip into Pharisaical mindsets...

Acts 13:1-25
It's easy to take this passage and think every decision should be made simply when the Holy Spirit speaks a direct work, but later in Acts, we see it's not always that easy!! I'm curious about Paul and Barnabas in Antioch, where the leaders of the synagogue service ask for their encouragement! Are they believing Jew? (15)

I love reading the speeches of these early apostles - what message were they preaching?


Monday, March 12, 2007

Day Twenty-One (21)

Reading today: Genesis 44-45, Psalm 20, Matat 8:23-34, Acts 12

Genesis 44-45
Now Joseph hides his silver cup in the bags of his brother to accuse them of stealing. What is up with this? The brothers still have such an awareness of their sin from selling Joseph to the slaves (v. 16 ch. 44). Is Joseph testing them to see if they have recognized their sin of the past? To see if they have turned from it, repented, changed? 45:5 - "But don't be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it. he sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives." The age old question of God's relation with evil. What Joseph's brother did was clearly evil and sinful. Yet God works it for their own good, not Joseph's, but theirs!!

Psalm 20
I envision this Psalm being read by the great throng of the congregation at the Temple. May the Lord grant our heart's desire and fulfill all of our plans!! Whoa, doesn't that sound un-spiritual? Selfish? Think again...

Matthew 8:23-34
The story of Jesus calming the storm is sandwiched between accounts of Jesus' healings. Jesus rebukes the storm just as he rebukes the demons in people. Is this another story of Jesus' spiritual warfare? We see the question of Jesus' identity looming larger as the story proceeds: "Who is this?" they asked themselves...
It is always so clear that the demons know exactly who Jesus is - the Son of God. Yet knowing who Jesus is does not mean you believe in, trust in, or follow him!! Reminds me of Matthew 7 passage.
I wonder why the pigs...

Acts 12
What an interesting contrast between the disciples and Herod. His actions are motivated by political popularity (3) and he receives the praise of the people for himself (23). God deals none too kindly with this (23)!!

This story of Peter being led out of prison is almost unbelievable. Does God work like this still today? Do with pray with a belief in this kind of activity of God?


Day Twenty (20)

Reading today: Genesis 42-43, Psalm 19, Matt 8:14-22, Acts 11:19-30

Genesis 42-43
They meet again...Joseph's brothers come to Egypt in search of food. I don't get Joseph's behaviour once he sees his brothers. The text makes it clear Joseph can barely contain himself, but why does he treat his brothers so harshly?

Psalm 19
A beautiful psalm. The creation speaks of God every day - but be careful not to worship the creation! "The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul." I think we need to read the Psalms more! So many Christians view the 'commands' of the Bible as burdensome and wearying, and thank God Jesus came and we don't have to do those things any! The Law is perfect, it brings freedom to follow and obey God and be in relation to him.

Matthew 8:14-22
...when Jesus noticed how large the crowd was growing...he says something challenging things! Were people just coming along for the joy ride? To see some cool stuff happen? Not really getting the whole discipleship thing? I'd say the Church today has a lot to learn here...Jesus' statement about not having a place to lay his head is somewhat mysterious, but in the context, he is clearly telling the religious teacher that following Jesus wherever he goes is no easy journey.

Acts 11:19-30
More Gentiles believe and the Jews rejoice with them...I'm tired, that's all I got...


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Day Nineteen (19)

Reading today: Genesis 41, Psalm 18:25-50, Matthew 8:1-13, Acts 10:1-18

Genesis 41
The well-known story of Joseph interpreting Pharoah’s dreams and being restored to a position of high authority. Pharoah calls for Joseph to interpret his dream… “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God will tell you what it means and will set you at ease” (v. 16)
Yet Pharoah goes on telling him…interesting…does he simply know that Joseph’s words will be empowered by God’s Spirit?
Does God still speak to us in dreams today? I took a course called Spiritual Formation this fall and aprt of our time was psent in dream analysis…definitely interesting stuff but I’m not sure if it’s just psychotherapy with a Christian twist. It was pretty powerful though and definitely opened my eyes. Something to do with great discernment!!
I see repeatedly in the narrative of Genesis the theme of God’s gracious bestowal upon people whome He chooses, not for any merit of their own. Joseph has done nothing to deserve this blessing of God and he knows it. Gratefulness is a key character quality in acknowledging the grace and presence of God. Something severely lacking today…

Psalm 18:25-50
I remember reading this Psalm during the midst of a big debate about whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God. V. 31 stood out with such clarity: For who is God except Yahweh? Of course, our English translations replace Yahweh with the LORD, but Yahweh is the personal name of God as revealed to Moses and forward from that point. Yahweh is irreplaceable, and unsubstitutable as the God of Israel. He is the only God. Can you worship a God you do not know personally? No, then you just fall into religion – humankind’s attempt to appease a capricious God.

v. 25-6 – God reveals himself to the “godly” as godly yet to the wicked he is hostile. In other words, as I see it, God condones, glorifies and encourages the conduct of those who act within his character. It’s not that God’s character changes as He sees fit, but rather in those who reflect God’s character back to Him, He so reflects that character to those people. Whoa, that was confusing. Yet, to the wicked he is hostile, in opposition to, against…

v.30 – what encouragement! God, his way is perfect. All of his promises prove true. Prove necessitates action, not merely mental assent. God acts!

Matthew 8:1-13
In healing the leper, Jesus is restoring this man into the community. Such a powerful image of God’s redemptive purpose – restoration, acceptance, inclusion.
The Roman officer causes Jesus to make quite a statement about the inclusion of Gentiles in the Kingdom of Heaven. To use the image of table fellowship was the ultimate sign of inclusion in one’s family during the first century in Palestine. Gentiles would no longer be “other” or “separate” but would enter into the ‘inner circle’ of fellowship with everyone in the Kingdom.

Acts 11:1-18
I appreciate here the receptivity of the Jewish believers to Peter’s news of Gentiles receiving the gift of the Spirit. It’s easy for us to read vv. 1-3 and be judgmental towards these Jews. But think of how we often react when we hear about the ‘successes’ of other churches – it is easy to become jealous and petty, isn’t it, even though it is completely perverse to be so. Yet, the Jewish believers have a complete change of heart upon hearing of God’s activity among the Gentiles. It is my hoep that I can so easily be molded by the Word of God – it is so easy to become set in our individual viewpoints rather than be open and receptive to being continually changed by the living address of God.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Day Eighteen (18)

Reading today: Genesis 38-39, Psalm 18:1-24, Matt 7:15-29, Acts 10-24-48

Genesis 38-39
Another story of deception and lying! Judah does not fulfill his word to Tamar and then Tamar deceives Judah by posing as a prostitute...not that that excuses Judah for his actions...
And so it continues with Potiphar's wife. What can I say about these stories? Humans are tragically deceitful. I wonder if Joseph recognized that his success was solely a result of the Lord's presence with him. It is so easy to take credit for when things go well and then despair of God when things are not going well. How can we not take God for granted? What would make us aware that it is only He, in Christ, who holds all things together?

Psalm 18:1-24
Again, God rescues and protects. v. 18 struck me this morning - "They attacked me at a moment when I was weakest, but the Lord upheld me". How often we say to ourselves, "Why this? Why now?" We are at the end of our rope, but God will uphold us.
And what a picture of God coming to rescue David!! Nostrils flaring, smoke spewing, hail and coals...whew...don't mess!

Matthew 7:15-29
Jesus' teaching cuts to the heart...We will recognize people by their fruit. Actions will always demonstrate what kind of person someone is. But some people are such good deceivers!!
The passage about people prophesying and healing and casting out demons in Jesus' name, and Jesus not knowing them is startling. The day of judgment will be very different than we imagine I think! But, really, how often do we do "good", "Christian" things because they are "good" rather than because God has actually commanded us to do them? Prophesying, casting out demons and performing miracles were all tangible signs of the Kingdom - yet Jesus is saying these people did not obey God by doing them. The apostles did these things...after they were sent by Jesus. What am I doing that is 'good' but God has not commanded me to do?
And of course, the crux of it all...don't just listen, obey! Bill, a pastor at Spring, had an amazing point the other week - the reason we shop from church to church is because all we do is listen...we get tired of hearing what we're hearing about 8 months and then move on to something different...if we actually were doing, we wouldn't be moving very fast!

Acts 10:24-48
Oops...I read this yesterday...


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Day Seventeen (17)

Reading Today: Genesis 37-38, Psalm 17, Matt 7:1-14, Acts 10:1-23

Genesis 37-38
The story of Joseph begins...It amazes me the people God uses to accomplish His purpose. Jacob shows such extreme partiality which goes against the very nature of God (Matt 5:45 and in many other places). Yet, he is humble enough to receive Joseph's dream and consider it rather than being filled with the jealous of Joseph's brothers.

The conversation between the brothers is ironic when one thinks of Jesus' teachings about murder (5:21-22). Their debate is pointless because either way, they have already murdered Joseph in their hearts as a result of their attitude towards him.

What's with Reuben? Does it have anything to do with Gen 35:22?

Psalm 17
I love verse 6 - "Bend down and listen as I pray". We have this image of God right beside us, among us, which is true, but I think it lacks the reverence the Jews have towards God. Bend down, Father, because you are so great, so high above the heavens, bend down so you can hear the prayer of a small, broken, humble human being whom you have chosen to love intimately.

Matthew 7:1-14
The log and the speck. This hit me pretty hard this morning. I have a personality that expects other people to think the same way I do and understanding things the way I do. As I learn more and more in seminary (a blessing!), I have become more and more aware that I sometimes treat people with less compassion and grace than I should because they don't see things in the same way as I do. How lame! Dallas Willard writes that the log is contempt - contempt of other people destroys their humanity.

Verse 6 about giving the sacred to dogs sort of still puzzles me.

So does the narrow gate. I mean, Jesus' message is universal salvation for all if they follow him and receive the gift of the Kingdom! I suppose his point is that although it is a gift, it is still a choice, and a harder one than following the patterns of the world.

Acts 10:1-23
Peter and Cornelius meet...What if Peter hadn't dedicated specific time to prayer? He never would have had this vision revealing that the Gospel was indeed for not just the Jews but for everyone else too! I love that they meet and neither has a clue what God intends, but they trust and know that He is at work...v. 33 "Now here we are, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you". Awesome!

v. 42 - "God ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is ordained of God to be the judge of all..." We often don't like to talk about the judgment of God. But if we leave that out, we don't understanding the incredibleness of our forgiveness in that same moment!

The Holy Spirit falls upon the Gentiles before being baptized...yet again, we see that these things are in God's hands and there is no prescribed order for things such as baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit.