Thoroughly Equipped: Reading Schedule for May

Okay, friends!  April was a tough month for me.  It was so busy with family and work obligations that I got a little sidetracked with my “digging in”.  But, with each month (really, each day!) we have an opportunity for a fresh start and a renewed resolve.  Let me remind you (and me):  It is worth it!  Studying God’s Word will not be fruitless.  His Word does not return void, but will accomplish that for which it is sent.  (Isaiah 55:11)  So, keep going!  Blessings to you!

May 1:   Judges 13:1-14:20, John 1:29:51, Psalm 102:1-28, Proverbs 14:15-16

May 2:  Judges 15:1-16:31, John 2:1-25, Psalm 103:1-22, Proverbs 14:17-19

May 3:  Judges 17:1-18:31, John 3:1-21, Psalm 104:1-23, Proverbs 14:20-21

May 4:  Judges 19:1-20:48, John 3:22-4:3, Psalm 104:24-35, Proverbs 14:22-24

May 5:  Judges 21:1-Ruth 1:22, John 4:4-42, Psalm 105:1-15, Proverbs 14:25

May 6:  Ruth 2:1-4:22, John 4:43-54, Psalm 105:16-36, Proverbs 14:26-27

May 7:  1 Samuel 1:1-2:21, John 5:1-23, Psalm 105:37-45, Proverbs 14:28-29

May 8:  1 Samuel 2:22-4:22, John 5:24-47, Psalm 106:1-12, Proverbs 14:30-31

May 9:  1 Samuel 5:1-7:17, John 6:1-21, Psalm 106:13-31, Proverbs 14:32-33

May 10: 1 Samuel 8:1-9:27, John 6:22-42, Psalm 106:32-48, Proverbs 14:34-35

May 11: 1 Samuel 10:1-11:15, John 6:43-71, Psalm 107:1-43, Proverbs 15:1-3

May 12: 1 Samuel 12:1-13:23, John 7:1-30, Psalm 108:1-13, Proverbs 15:4

May 13: 1 Samuel 14:1-52, John 7:31-53, Psalm 109:1-31, Proverbs 15:5-7

May 14: 1 Samuel 15:1-16:23, John 8:1-20, Psalm 110:1-7, Proverbs 15:8-10

May 15: 1 Samuel 17:1-18:4, John 8:21-30, Psalm 111:1-10, Proverbs 15:11

May 16: 1 Samuel 18:5-19:24, John 8:31-59, Psalm 112:1-10, Proverbs 15:12-14

May 17: 1 Samuel 20:1-21:15, John 9:1-41, Psalm 113:1-114:8, Proverbs 15:15-17

May 18: 1 Samuel 22:1-23:29, John 10:1-21, Psalm 115:1-18, Proverbs 15:18-19

May 19: 1 Samuel 24:1-25:44, John 10:22-42, Psalm 116:1-19, Proverbs 15:20-21

May 20: 1 Samuel 26:1-28:25, John 11:1-54, Psalm 117:1-2, Proverbs 15:22-23

May 21: 1 Samuel 29:1-31:13, John 11:55-12:19, Psalm 118:1-18, Proverbs 15:24-26

May 22: 2 Samuel 1:1-2:11, John 12:20-50, Psalm 118:19-29, Proverbs 15:27-28

May 23: 2 Samuel 2:12-3:39, John 13:1-30, Psalm 119:1-16, Proverbs 15:29-30

May 24: 2 Samuel 4:1-6:23, John 13:31-14:14, Psalm 119:17-32, Proverbs 15:31-32

May 25: 2 Samuel 7:1-8:18, John 14:15-31, Psalm 119:33-48, Proverbs 15:33

May 26: 2 Samuel 9:1-11:27, John 15:1-27, Psalm 119:49-64, Proverbs 16:1-3

May 27: 2 Samuel 12:1-31, John 16:1-33, Psalm 119:65-80, Proverbs 16:4-5

May 28: 2 Samuel 13:1-39, John 17:1-26, Psalm 119:81-96, Proverbs 16:6-7

May 29: 2 Samuel 14:1-15:22, John 18:1-24, Psalm 119:97-112, Proverbs 16:8-9

May 30: 2 Samuel 15:23-16:23, John 18:25-19:22, Psalm 119:113-128, Proverbs 16:10-11

May 31: 2 Samuel 17:1-29, John 19:23-42, Psalm 119:129-152, Proverbs 16:12-13

 


Thoroughly Equipped: Last Words

Today’s reading includes Deuteronomy 31:1-32:27, Luke 12:8-34, Psalm 78:32-55, and Proverbs 12:21-23.

In today’s reading, we see that it is almost time for Moses to die.  He has almost completed everything the Lord has called him to.  He is finishing strong.  He is not limping toward the finish line, barely hanging on.  God has gifted him with strength to complete the task.  I wonder if he is disappointed that he won’t actually lead the people into the Promise land?  I think I would be.  But it doesn’t appear that he is disappointed; it seems as if he has totally accepted the will of God.  He is not jealous of Joshua; he is rooting for him.  He has seen his work as a calling from God and as such, he is willing to accept that calling and nothing else.  His ambition is gone, and his reluctance is gone.  He is not fighting his calling, nor trying to prolong it.

Wow.  That is very unusual for a human being.  Most of the time, we have to fight our ambition.   Either we are fighting apathy or fighting pride.  But not Moses.  Sometimes we think that Moses was in some holy category that made it easier to be extraordinary.  But we need to remember that he was ordinary.  He was an ordinary man called by God.  So, his extraordinary-ness was not Moses, it was God.  And that is the key.  That was the key for Moses, that is the key for us.  We let God run the show.  If God wants to place us in a position for great influence among a lot of people, so be it.  If God wants to hide us in the shadows where no one notices the work of our calling, so be it.  It is God that calls us, God that directs us, God that equips us, God that anoints us, God that gives us the strength we need.  When we realize that, there is no room for vain ambition or destructive pride.  We are neither timid nor prideful.  We are neither insecure nor arrogant.  We will just go about our business, serving God in the way He wants, not in the way we think is best.  That is a formula for spiritual success.

And there are two more parts of the formula.  Did you see it in the reading today?  Both parts are repeated three times in Deuteronomy 31.  Three times.  What does that tell you.  First, the repetition tells us the two parts are very important, but number 3 tells us they are holy—truth directly from God.  Let’s take a look:

 Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ The Lord your God himself will crossover ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the Lord said. And the Lord will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged…

23 The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.”

 

                                                                                    Deuteronomy 31:1-8, 23

In these two parts we see responsibility for us and responsibility for God. The two parts of holy importance are as follows:

  1. Joshua is to be strong and courageous. This may seem like a hard task, given the calling.  But it is a command, not an encouragement.  Be strong and courageous.  Just do it.  Walk forward, don’t turn back.  Just do the next right thing, as my husband always says.
  2. The second part is why the first part is attainable. Because the Lord will be with him.  Go back and read the section again.  Not only will the Lord be with him, the Lord is the one to go before.  The Lord is the one to fight the battle.

So, how can we be encouraged in this passage?  First, we must know that we each have a calling.  We must be strong and courageous in that calling.  We must just do it.  Do it scared if we have to.  It appears in this passage that one of the biggest obstacles in walking forward is fear and discouragement.  I know that to be true in my own life.  According to dictionary.com, the prefix “dis” is a Latin prefix meaning “apart,” “asunder,” “away,” “utterly,” or having a privative, negative, or reversing force.  We are commanded not to be discourage, because discouragement reverses our courage.

Courage is not the absence of fear.  It is the ability to push through the fear, knowing that we can walk forward, because God is walking with us—going before us, staying beside us, and walking behind us.


Thoroughly Equipped: Free Indeed

Today’s reading includes Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20, Luke 11:37-12:7, Psalm 78:1-31, Proverbs 12:19-20

Though we have moved on to Deuteronomy 29, my thoughts are still back in chapter 28. Yesterday we talked of the blessings of obedience to the Lord.  What joy we experience, what fulfillment is ours when we walk in obedience.  Of course, we do not always walk in obedience. We do not always choose God and His way.  What are we to do?  We are to remember that Jesus is the bridge between a holy God and an unholy people.  We walk that bridge of faith, walk boldly upon the scarred back of the One who took our curse.  Then we are redeemed.  Then we are blessed.  And how sweet those blessings are!

21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses[a] and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

                                                                                     Romans 3:21-23

But what if we choose a different path?

What if we are indifferent to the ways of the Lord?

What is our lot in that case?

Today’s reading shows us a sobering truth, a great warning, and a sad description.  It culminates in the following passage.

64 Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known. 65 Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. 66 You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life.67 In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!”—because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see. 68 The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.

                                                                                                Deuteronomy 28: 64-68

The consequences of disobedience are revealed in many ways.  But what caught my attention is this: “an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.  You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread…never sure of your life.”

What a sad description!  And yet, I have experienced those feelings at times in my life.  Have you?  Thankfully, it did not last long, but I know of dear ones who live in that place of suspense and anxiety and fear.  And what occurred to me is that we do not have to stay there.  If Jesus has taken the curse, we do not have to live in that space of anxiety and despair and uncertainty.  And yet, many of us still do.  We have offered ourselves into slavery again, experiencing a journey God does not intend for us, the Redeemed.  This is not our inheritance, this is a lie from the enemy of our souls.  Satan knows we are redeemed.  He knows we are set free from the curse of sin, from the inability to obey.  He just works very hard to make sure we don’t know it ourselves.  If he can keep us believing that this is our lot in life, he can keep us focusing on our fear, focusing on ourselves.  And though he cannot keep us from ultimate salvation, he will try to keep us stumbling along, without the energy to bring others along with us.  Dear friends, Jesus paid the price for you.  Will you trust Him to redeem you?  Will you trust Him to make your path straight? Will you trust Him with your anxiety, despair, and uncertainty?  He is waiting for you.

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

                                                            John 8:36


Thoroughly Equipped: The Bridge to Blessing

Today’s reading includes Deuteronomy 28:1-68, Luke 11:14-36, Psalm 77:1-20, Proverbs 12:18.

In today’s reading we see the continuation of the proclamations of blessings and curses between the two groups of God’s people from one mountain to the other.  As we discussed yesterday, 6 tribes, descendants of the “free” women were on Mount Gerizim shouting the “freedom” of obedience.  Six tribes from the “slave” women (including the first and last sons of Leah) shouted the “slavery” of disobedience.  And the priests were in the middle declaring curses of disobedience, which all the people agreed to with a resounding “Amen”.  We realized yesterday that Jesus, the greatest High Priest, was the bridge between the mountain of curses and the mountain of blessings.

Today’s reading reiterates the truth that there is blessing in obedience.  We can’t achieve this on our own.  We can’t be righteous enough to receive all the blessings of obedience, but that does not mean we are without hope.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

                                                          Ephesians 2:8

But just as a gift offered, must be received, we must stretch out empty, open hands to the One who took our curse.  He then will place in our hands the tremendous gift of His righteousness so that we may receive the ability to walk the Bridge from the mountain of curses to the mountain of blessing. Then we are ready to stand in His righteousness, ready to receive His blessings.  Today’s reading describes those blessings.  Read it again, out loud if possible.

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:

Your towns and your fields
    will be blessed.
Your children and your crops
    will be blessed.
The offspring of your herds and flocks
    will be blessed.
Your fruit baskets and breadboards
    will be blessed.
Wherever you go and whatever you do,
    you will be blessed.

“The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!

“The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

“If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do. 10 Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you.

11 “The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops.12 The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. 13 If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom. 14 You must not turn away from any of the commands I am giving you today, nor follow after other gods and worship them.

                                                                                    Deuteronomy 28:1-14

What beautiful words!  What beautiful promises!  But with a word of caution, I must say that just as we are given the ability to receive such promises, we are also given the ability to have the gift of faith and trust in receiving the promises which He deems appropriate and generous for us.  His blessings will not always look like the world’s definition of blessing.  His are much better, much deeper.  But they may not look like what we expect them to look like.  That is where faith and trust come in.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight. 

                                                                       Proverbs 3:5-6

This Old Testament concept of blessings and curses has not been voided.  It has simply been redeemed.  Jesus took our curse, so that we may receive His blessings.  Praise Him this day for this marvelous truth!


Thoroughly Equipped: Blessings and Curses

Today’s reading includes Deuteronomy 26:1-27:26, Luke 10:38-11:13, Psalm 76:1-12, Proverbs 12:15-17.

In our reading today, we come across a seemingly strange activity God’s people were called to do after the crossed the Jordan into the Promise land.  They were to divide the whole of the people into two groups.  The tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin were to stand on Mount Gerizim and the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulum, Dan, and Naphtali were to stand on Mount Ebal.  Six on one mountain, six on the other, facing each other.  The first group were to loudly proclaim a blessing over the people and the other group were to proclaim a curse.  The tribes on the side of blessing were from the birth children of the free women, Rachel and Leah.  The other six who proclaimed the curses were from their concubines, sons of Zilpah and Bilhah, as well as Zebulun, the youngest of Leah’s sons, and Reuben, the oldest.

The idea was that the blessings of following God and His instructions would be shouted and echoed across the Promise land in declaration that this was their belief and it was right.

In the same way, the curses were to be shouted across the land.  These curses were related to the consequences of disobedience to God and His instructions and would only be seen if the people did not follow and obey God.

The priests stood in the valley between the two and shouted more curses (or declaration of consequences) of what would happen if the people disobeyed God.  To these curses, all the people would shout Amen, which means “so be it” or “I agree” or “it is true”.

The fact that the priests shouted curses and consequences was in contrast to what the Lord had told them to do on a daily basis, and that was to proclaim blessing on the people, as we read in Numbers 6.

2The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23 Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,

24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

                                                            Numbers 6:22-26

So, why was this important for them to do, just after they entered the Promise land?  First of all, it was a way to take back the land.  As they first entered the land, it was still occupied by groups who did not follow God or His ways.  They were declaring that things were about to change.  It was also a declaration that God’s people were not to fall into the patterns of the people around them.  And as the blessings and curses were declared between the two mountains, and their agreement with them, the truth of it echoed across the land.

This time of shouting from one mountain top to the other was also symbolic of what was to come.  Where were the priests?  They were in the middle between the blessing and cursing.  Who is the greatest High Priest?  Jesus of course.  As the people shouted the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience, and their agreement of these truths, surely they were also prophetically acknowledging that only through Jesus, the High Priest, could the curse of sin cross over to the blessing of salvation. Only, Jesus, the bridge between a sinful people to a holy God could connect the two and bridge the gap between the mountain of curses to the mountain of blessing.

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”[d] 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit[e] through faith.

                                                                                    Galatians 3:10-14