Bible Epiphany

GGBlog

Do you ever read God’s Word and literally hug it? I do! About 6 years ago I gave myself permission to take the rest of my life to learn the Word of God. I’m not a bible scholar and as far as I can tell God is not calling me into full-time ministry, so I thought, whether I have a couple of days or another 70 years, why not go deep into God’s Word? Rather than rush through it or follow some plan that would put pressure on me to finish it – I would just take it one chapter, one day, at a time.

So here I am, 6 years (almost to the day) later that I started this blog and I started reading my bible at Genesis 1:1. I invited you on my journey back then, but after a short time, I felt convicted that I was making bible reading and blogging another box to be checked off of my daily to-do list. God clearly doesn’t want to be a “task”, He wants a relationship, so He showed me the opposite, “Remain in me and I will remain in you”. (John 15:4)

Confession: I have missed days and I have deviated from scripture to attend a bible study or five, but this is my marathon, not my sprint.

To date, I just finished up the book of Daniel and am well on my way into the depressing pages of Hosea. I think I may be on pace to be in the Genis Book of World Records for longest time taken to ever read the bible cover to cover. I googled it actually and there are some pretty hysterical records, and to be honest, I’m convinced that even the best bible scholar of today would still admit they have more to learn and it’s a book you can never put down. Here’s the bottom line, it’s not about how fast you read, it’s about knowing who God is. When you read the bible and spend focused time with God, un-rushed, and you can really absorb, even a mere glimpse of who God is, you hug Him, or at least the closest thing to Him, His written word.

My latest ah-ha is how much I wish I would have paid attention in history class. All of the historical significance that validates the accuracy of scripture is mind-blowing. Then, I always was under the belief that the bible was written in a timeline and in some sequential order; like the editions of encyclopedias. Oh – No – No! They are, in fact, written in perfect intertwined chronology. This makes it even more mind-blowing that the same facts that were witnessed and reported, where almost always written by complete strangers – who were not even related. *Poof goes my brain*.  For example. Jeremiah and Ezekiel lived at the same time, but never knew each other, yet what they write is 100% accurate from two completely different geographical locations and vantages points. God used them and their books are spot on – verified and validated by the other. I scratch my head, “How many times and how many ways can people be warned about their sin and idols and still neglect to acknowledge the one and only true God.” It hits a little too close to home, doesn’t it?

I pray that if you’ve read this far, that you adopt the same philosophy of committing your lifetime to knowing God and giving His Word a squeeze every now and then, in awe of who He is.

You Are A Treasure

Treasure

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 14

Please excuse me while I get a little mushy today. Out of all the verses about food (what to eat, what not to eat and then a brief topic on tithing) I found one little verse that appears to be completely unrelated, but it jumps off the page and directly touches my heart. It’s Deuteronomy 14:2, “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.”

To whom is Moses referring to? Who has the LORD chosen as His treasured possession? – Answer: Believers!

A treasured possession. When is the last time someone told you that you are treasured. Hearing that we are loved is one thing, but treasured?…. that’s love at an entirely different level. Over the century people have died for things they treasured. Huh, could that be why Jesus died for us?

When I think of a treasure I think of value. I think of something that is desirable, unique, special, significant, important –  nothing else comparable. God calls us [believers] his treasured possession in verse 2 and throughout the bible. How do we wrap our minds around that idea with out letting it go to our heads, literally?

Then you have the word, possession. That is a possessive word that means selfish, unwilling to share, not willing to part with or in the words of a toddler, “Mine!” Put those two words together, “treasured possession” and WOW!

We can’t wrap our minds around it. We have to rest in it, have confidence in it, accept it and live it. I think there are so many truths in the bible that we simply can’t comprehend, but God wants us to take Him at His Word and know that He is God. (Isaiah 46:9)

So if you’re feeling insignificant today or perhaps you are carrying a burden of some sort, these are Words for your soul. They are for mine and I am grateful and feeling very blessed by this verse. Funny how God has a way of telling you exactly what you need to hear. Each phrase in this verse speaks powerfully to my heart. Let’s read it again and allow His Words to bring perspective for us today… “For YOU are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen YOU to be his treasured possession.

Walk with your head held high today Girlfriends. God loves you, you are His treasured possession.

Secret Sin

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Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 15

Oh boy! This chapter is a dusey. As I’m reading, I’m thinking, “How do I create a blog over this one – this stuff makes me uncomfortable?” Then, it occurred to me – it’s private and personal, not something people talk about open and freely – it is uncomfortable! I believe God is pointing out that there are some things that each one of us deals with that we keep to ourselves, namely sin.

So let’s go there, let’s call it out. I’m sure that most of our sins are kept a secret from the outside world. After all, nobody wants to be known as a thief, rapist, liar, adulteress, gossip, or murderer. You know what I’m talking about, those skeletons in our closet.

God wants us to be aware that even our secret sin needs to be dealt with. He is fully aware that they are there and if we try to hide them, especially from Him, we are only kidding ourselves. We need to come clean and deal with them. The apostle Paul says that we are in bondage or slaves to sin. Slaves are trapped and we, as slaves, are controlled by sin, but worse, when we sin we are further hunted or in bondage to guilt, grief, depression, regret, anger, paranoia and pain. Then we act it out through more sin; rage, withdrawal, addiction, short tempers, etc. It’s a perpetual cycle of ugliness until God is allowed in to clean our mess up.

So as uncomfortable and seemingly odd that this chapter would be in God’s Word, I can see now that He wants us to recognize that He is aware of every dirty one of our sins and we are only kidding ourselves to think we can continue living that way. There is no such thing as a secret sin so come clean with God and let Him make it right.

Sin Is Dark – Be The Light

Grim_reaper

Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 3

I began my collegiate career as an accounting major. Shockingly, my first class was Accounting 101 and I failed my first test – I was shocked! This was the basic stuff, simple debits and credits – this wasn’t supposed to happen. I went to the teacher and he said words that forever changed my life, “Perhaps an accounting career isn’t for you.”

I did what every confused college student would do, I called Mom. Mom did a self analysis of the job market and realized I had a higher probability of getting  a job as a nurse, so that was her recommendation. Once again, I was excited, guided and I enrolled in a bunch of labs my second semester – Biology, Chemistry and Anatomy, Oh My! I remember looking at my lab partner in Anatomy and she could barely wait to cut into that disgusting, formaldehyde smelling, slimy frog. I was literally ill. It was that moment that I knew the medical field wasn’t for me.

So I’m having this flashback as I’m reading Leviticus 3. This chapter gives a vivid description of the peace offering and its not a very pretty picture – at least to us. This pleased God and the reason sacrifice was necessary is because of sin, they didn’t have Jesus yet; God’s perfect sacrifice to cover their sin. This particular offering speaks of the communion and fellowship of believers with God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. The only way you and I can come to God is through Jesus Christ. He is the Way!

God never accepted the blood of bulls and goats as the final payment for sin, but He required that blood be shed. It was an atonement to cover over the sins until Christ came. In other words, God saved “on credit” in the Old Testament. When Christ came, as the hymn accurately states it, “Jesus paid it all.” This is true as far as the past is concerned, and as far as the present is concerned, and as far as the future is concerned.

Furthermore, I am reading this in the early morning of Halloween. Today is a day when my neighborhood will be busy with Zombies, Grim Reapers, and little Freddie’s. As you now know I’m not a fan of bloody gore and shouldn’t surprise you that I’m not a fan of Halloween either. I don’t like the dark side of this day – God is light in the darkness. Darkness represents sin and sin is disgusting, stinky, and slimy to God. Whether its killing animals who are without defect or our surrendered lives, there is no question that we need a savior – He gave one to us. Let’s give him our best today and be light in the darkness on this Halloween day.

Recipe For Right Living

Chef

Today’s Devotion: Exodus 29.

Of all the gifts and talents the Lord has given me, cooking is not one of them. I know for you cooks out there, you don’t understand it. I have heard my entire life, “What do you mean? It’s so easy!”

That’s easy for you to say…. you know how to cook! It’s not for a lack of effort, I have a family and I’ve tried to please them with my best attempt at great and wonderful things, but I’ve ruined a lot of simple dishes – like green bean casserole. Grilled cheese is a delicacy in my house.

As I’m reading this chapter of Exodus I felt like I was reading a recipe. It kept going on and on. There are a lot of commanding words from God like, “Take, do, and, then, put.” It’s very intimidating. What if they missed something, as I am prone to missing something, when I glaze over the instructions contained within a recipe book? Do you know what happens? It ends badly.

God has instructions throughout the book of Exodus that are specific and purposeful. Since the Old Testament contains so many symbolic parallels to Christ, I draw the conclusion that even though we are not expected to give God burnt offerings, altars, bread without yeast, or sacrifices of year-old lambs; we are expected to follow His little instruction book – the bible.

It’s a big book though and in our sinful existence, you know we’re bound to miss something. That’s the beauty of Christ – we can. Just like my family offers me grace and forgiveness when they say, “It’s o.k. Mom, you tried… I’ll just have cereal.” Rather than beating me down and making me feel bad, they work around it. They still get a meal and that’s what God does for us. He’ll meet our needs, even when things don’t turn out.

Interior Decorations Of My Heart

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Today’s Devotion: Exodus 26. “Things are what they seem in the bible.” I heard this on the radio yesterday on my commute to work. The radio guy said that we need to take the Word of God literally. Many take scripture, read it to what they want it to say, and twist it to defend it against itself. I can’t say I completely disagree with that because I have had people take it out of context and misuse it. I used to be a surface reader, but I have come to appreciate reading God’s Word and looking deeper, beyond just the words to the heart of the meaning.

I especially find myself doing that as I read the intricacies of the tabernacle. If we were to read it too literally, we would think God is quite the interior decorator. So I ask myself why God put such a thorough description of this tabernacle in His word? I can muster up a lot of theories and questions like, “Where did they get all of this stuff? They are supposed to be in the desert. Is it a literal desert with sand and cactus and stuff, or is it one of those deserts that I have faced in my life that are places of isolation, discomfort, and pain?”

For this I went to my commentary and this is what I learned from Dr. Vernon McGee, “Everything in the tabernacle speaks of either the person or work of Christ. Every covering, every thread, and every article of furniture reveals some facet of the Savior. As the bars held the tabernacle together, so the Holy Spirit of God holds true believers together today. Believers should be held together by the Spirit. In fact, believers are told “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

McGee, J. Vernon (1984-01-06). Thru the Bible Commentary, Volumes 1-5: Genesis through Revelation (Thru the Bible 5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 11849-11852). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

I love that! It all points to Christ. God is very deliberate in the old testament to point to the coming Messiah. I find it especially interesting that He has every detail covered. This tells me (us) that He has everything in my life covered too. I also can’t help but realize that He is pointing every detail of my life to the return of Christ and He is being very deliberate about that too.

Life may be a metaphoric desert, but it doesn’t have to be hell, nor does it have to be insignificant. God has a plan and His plan is detailed and perfect. What an honor that He has all of that figured out in advance for us. We simply need to be reading His Word, growing in knowing Him and having a relationship with Him. It’s as if He’s decorating my heart with His love.

Servant… In A Good Way!

Faith

In Genesis 24 we read that Abraham is getting up there in age and decides to send his servant to find a bride for Isaac. I see so many wishful parallels between my life as God’s servant and Abraham and his servant.

Abraham does not want to get a bride among the Canaanites where the people are given to idolatry and paganism, and so he sent his servant to his people, back in the land of Haran. I am impressed with the way the servant handles himself. First of all, it is evident that he does not want to disappoint Abraham. Abraham covers all basis, he even gives him a contingency plan in verse 8, “If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.”  Isn’t this like Jesus says in John 15:10, If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.?” He’s not saying, “If it doesn’t work out, abort my plan and do whatever you want.” God wants us to do his will and if we are unsuccessful, we need to go back to him, not try to force our own agenda.

Next, Abraham equipped his servant . He even went so far as to give the servant everything that he needed to improve his chances at a successful journey. I’m not sure how much camels cost back in that day, but this servant took ten of them. That’s giving this servant a significant advantage. God doesn’t send us on a journey that He doesn’t provide us with the proper tools we need to succeed. Hebrews 13:21, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

And then before the servant has a chance to speak to any potential candidates for Isaac’s bride he prays. Verse 12 he asks God, Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.” How many times do I get into a situation that I realize that the outcomes are bigger than I am. On several occasions I have had to stop, pause, and pray. It’s a beautiful picture of surrendering our will and motives to God’s will and His outcomes.

Next, I am humored by the fact that the servant prays an elaborate prayer, asking God that things will happen a specific way and then he doubts it. Have you ever done that? You pray for something, it happens just as you requested, and then you doubt? It’s as if “that was too easy” or “too good to be true,” so you go back to prayer and ask for further clarity? Admittedly, I have done that on more than one occasion. Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” 

Lastly, I love that Rebekah’s family recognizes that the servant is a man of God. I love that they can see that the servant is not just an average guy. This shows that his actions speak for themselves and his presence commands respect of a higher power. They didn’t see him pray before he spoke to Rebekah, nor did they hear the purpose of his journey until he was invited in for his foot washing and meal. There must have been something special about him that set him apart.

We all know people like this. There is something different about them. Sometimes we can’t put our finger on it, but we can just tell. Not only am I inspired by Rebekah and the servant, but I’m encouraged by the incredible God that we serve and how He is in every detail in this story. Just as he is found in every detail of ours. I think today’s message is a great reminder that he has a plan, He provides for our needs as we live to execute on that plan, and He will be revealed in us to those we interact with. It’s a beautiful story, and so is ours.