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.

Sinned By Accident

Talking With Hands

Today’s Devotional: Deuteronomy 19

Have you ever hurt someone by accident? I have. I’m a very animated speaker and when I’m really into my story my hands are busy trying to bring added emphasis to each word that I’m trying to convey. This [habit] has gotten me into trouble from time to time. You could say that I’m dangerous to be around if you are a waitress carrying a tray of red wine glasses or a heavy tray of dishes. I can (figuratively speaking) poke out an eye if you are an innocent passerby and I remember having to apologize for inadvertently slapping someone with a quick lash from the back of my hand because of the passion in which I was speaking.

Deuteronomy 19 brings to our minds a scenario in verse 5, “For instance, a man may go into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and as he swings his ax to fell a tree, the head may fly off and hit his neighbor and kill him. That man may flee to one of these cities and save his life.” First, I’m impressed that God’s Word uses such a comprehensible example of accidental death and secondly, it’s something that could really happen. If it would… What do you you? If you kill someone, even if its an accident, isn’t that still murder?

God gives this example to let us know that accidents do happen, even ones that may result in sin. I don’t know about you, but I find relief in that. Surely my spilled red wine and minor backhanding doesn’t compare to accidentally killing someone, but what if, right? The bible helps us prepare for those moments of uncertainty and I’m thankful that God has ever possible scenario covered and will protect us.

Since we are prone to sin and God knows it, it is also a relief to know that ALL of our sins are forgiven. God’s grace is so unbelievable that even in the sins we commit by accident, He proves a way out. That way out is Jesus and how blessed we are to know our lives are saved.

Everybody Has a Heart

Homeless

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 15

God has a solution for fighting poverty in verse 1, “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.” I had to read that twice. Imagine if you got a do-over every 7 years? If you’re in bad shape, that could be a real blessing.

I took my family on a tour at our local homeless shelter this past Monday. I thought that serving together as a family,  especially serving meals to people less fortunate, might be a great way for our family to bond, bring perspective on how blessed we truly are and teach my children how rewarding it is to help others.

The people who occupy this shelter for their temporary living space are the poorest of community. For many of the residents this is an opportunity to get a fresh start; a do over. The staff helps them identify goals, provides guidance on how to find a job, interview and dress appropriately; they also teach organizational skills, basics for daily living (like how to manage finances) and basic hygiene.

Shortly after our tour my youngest daughter said to me, “Mom, why were some of those people were looking at us weird?” I responded with the kindest words I could muster, “Well sweetheart, those people don’t have homes… perhaps they were looking at us because they were ashamed to be there or maybe they think we’re ‘the rich people,’ we really are compared to them. We have a home.”

I wasn’t honestly sure what to say, you know how kids ask the most amazing questions that we, as parents, sometimes don’t know the answers to ourselves. My answer was intended to show compassion and help her per-adolescent mind that she didn’t have to be self-conscious of her image or take anything personally.

In verse 7, “If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.” This is a basic human courtesy to be kind to the poor among us; it is not our social status that defines us.

My mom used to say, “Sarah, everybody has a heart!” What she meant was I am not better than anybody. I should not judge anyone, look down on them, act like I’m better than anyone nor be mean like a bully. Whether they have a physical disability, are poor, shop at 2nd hand stores vs. the trendy stores at the mall, don’t wear matching clothes, have body Oder, etc… My mom taught me an incredible life lesson in those words – to love everyone and recognize that everyone has feelings – Don’t judge.

Perhaps Deuteronomy 15 was God’s way of saying to the Israelites, “Everyone has a heart.” Give them a new beginning, a do-over every 7 years. Which leads me to note that Jesus gave us a HUGE do-over for dying on the cross for our sins. We are all poor in spirit and lost without Christ. He sacrificed everything for us to have eternal life. He didn’t discriminate on the basis of wealth, acts, right vs. wrongs…. he did it for those of us whose hearts have repented and accept his sacrifice. The result – a new birth.

Copy Cat Worshiper

Copy Cat

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 12

My take away from Deuteronomy chapter 12 is that God has no interest in letting anyone or anything distract us from knowing He is God and there is no other.

In verses 4-5, “You must not worship the LORD your God in their way. But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go;” and the remainder of the book are a continuation of warnings, reminders and instructions.

We should not think we are immune to idolatry today; idols are all around us. Anything, anything that comes between our souls and God becomes an idol. Notice what Moses says in verses 4, “You must not worship the LORD your God in THEIR way.” What is their way?

Are you a copy cat worshiper or a monkey see – monkey do worshiper? In other words, we see that others have traditions, rituals or certain practices that make them seem more “spiritual.” One example is a cross necklace. Whenever I see someone wearing a cross necklace, I tend to “assume” that they have a relationship with Christ. Why else would someone where the cross of Jesus around their necks?

Or what about that cross that dangles from a rear view mirror? Is that person a Christian? Perhaps we assume people are more Holy or spiritual because of the church they attend, the frequency that they go to church, the volunteer work that they do or the bible verses that they have memorized. All signs of being good Christians, right?

Maybe not! What I read into these verses is that my relationship with God is my relationship with God and he is looking for authentic worshipers. We can copy cat other people, but if that is all we are doing and our hearts are going through the motions and there is no true heart connection – we’re wasting our time.

God’s Got Your Back

Got Your Back

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 10

I remember a song we used to sing in Sunday School class when I was a young girl. It went like this, “King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s, Glory! Halleluiah.”

Verse 17 reminded me of that song, “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.”

Sometimes I read the bible and I’m looking for something that is tangible and applicable; where I can close the book and walk away with a verse or a thought that I can immediately apply to face life. Other times, like today, God seems to stop me in my tracks and provides me with one big, broad reminder and truth – He is God.

That’s what Deuteronomy 10 speaks to me; He is God of everything. Especially over those little gods like ice cream, i phones, money, jobs, hobbies, collections, children, husbands, etc… He is also the Lord over all the lords in our world like presidents, pastors, princes and kings, teachers or any other authority figure we may esteem to be our leaders. Verse 17 reminds me that He is a great God; mighty and awesome. That in itself is great, mighty and awesome.

Just for perspective today… meditate on that. “King of all kings and Lord of all lords.” When we take a pause and recognize just how magnificent He is we don’t need to worry, fear, be anxious, doubt, be depressed, care what others think, limit ourselves, cower, avoid, withdraw or retaliate.  God is the “Big Man”, He’s got your back.

Rehashing The Past

Punching Bag

Today’s Devotional: Deuteronomy 9

Have you ever been in a fight with someone who keeps circling back to the past; bringing up issues that should have been long gone, forgiven, over it – past! When that has happened to me I feel as if they aren’t even participating in the current argument and they just can’t seem to let go. It’s like I’m some kind of punching bag… I have no defense.

What if God did this? Remember the time when you took that box of pens from the office, rounded up the mileage on your expense reimbursement, told your parents you were home by curfew, but they were out of town so what’s a little white lie? What about the gossip you initiated about a ‘friend’, the cheat sheet you hid in your sleeve to pass your high school exam or the plagiarism used to write that college paper? That door ding you pretended not to carve into the door of that parked car, that tantrum you displayed when your checkbook didn’t balance or that time you turned your nose up on that homeless beggar who wanted some pocket change for food?

What if God rehashed our past?

Does the thought scare you? It does me. Maybe you don’t remember the time you got in late for curfew and lied to your parents. God would remember that. Can you imagine getting to heaven and all of a sudden God starting pulling out His list of your wrongs? This alone makes me pray out to God, “LORD, I am not worthy!”

BUT YOU ARE WORTHY! We are worthy through Christ. Deuteronomy chapter 9 is Moses reminding the Israelities how bad they were, but verse 6 says, “Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

It’s not because we are sinners God is giving us eternal life, it is because Christ is your LORD and savior and through His sacrifice of His blood, took our sins away – past, present and future. Thing is… it’s not just given automatically. We have to profess Him as LORD of our lives, believe in our hearts that Jesus did take our sins away, turn away from our selfish ways, and live for Him. I used to think it was a simple prayer…. Oh, it’s simple alright, but you have to mean it with your whole life.

If you can’t find the words, pray with me:

LORD Jesus, I need You. I want You to be my Savior and LORD. I accept Your death on the cross as the complete payment of my sins. Thank You for forgiving me and for giving me new life. Help me to grow in my understanding of Your Love and power so that my life will bring honor to You. Amen.

Know It!

Questionmark

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 7

Sometimes we read the bible as a story and that is easy to do; it can flow like a story. Today the word “know” jumped off the page. When someone makes a statement that includes the word, “know” it means certainty. If I say that I know where my shoes are, that means I have confidence where I put my shoes. If I say that I know I’m going to get up early tomorrow, that means that I am going to take the necessary measures to wake up early.

Verse 9 says, Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” This statement has authority! It means that God is God and that He is faithful and He keeps his covenants. It’s a promise and is written so that we may know this with absolute certainty.

Why doubt it? God’s Word is filled with such amazing truths about God’s character and so far the Old Testament has proven that what verse 9 says is accurate and we can be confident in it. I was taught as a new believer, that anytime scripture has the word “therefore” that we need to ask what it is there for?

Notice that immediately following “know” is the word “therefore.” It is there, for the conclusion that everything that has been said in the prior verses are tied to this truth and is concluded as truth.

And what do the preceding verses say? “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. 7 The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. “

This is confidence that you can walk with your head held high, a little pep in your step and KNOW that God is God and you can know it!