A DAILY GUIDE TO READING THE BIBLE IN A YEAR

Bless the Lord, O My Soul!

Day 305 Ezekiel 1:1-3:15; Hebrews 3:1-19; Psalm 104:1-23; Proverbs 26:24-26

Bless the Lord, O My Soul!

Psalm 103 ends with the command, “Praise the Lord for all his works everywhere in his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!” Psalm 104 picks up from there and gives us, in absolutely beautiful poetic description, why we are to bless the Lord in His creation. The poet who wrote this psalm brings into play the Creation, the story of Noah, and of Job. Each “day” of the Creation is to be blessed. We are to be thankful for all God has created. But, not only has God created the earth, He maintains it. The psalm talks of the flood and how the waters covered the mountains, and yet God directed the water to recede into the valleys where it gives drink to the beasts, causes the grass to grow to feed the cattle, and allows man to cultivate the soil and grow plants. The psalm brings to mind the discourse between God and Job. Man is reminded that God is sovereign, and we can’t always understand His ways but must always remember that He is in control and submit to Him. John Maxwell in his Leadership Bible writes:
“The earth belongs to the Lord, not to humankind. Therefore leaders should never act as if they own the place. While we can feel confident of our mission, we must remember we are stewards, not owners. We simply manage what He has established, based on His values and vision.”
Many, many years ago I was driving through the mountains in North Carolina, and my son Kevin, who was about six at the time, looked out the window of our car at the beautiful vista in front of us and said to me, “Daddy this is God’s world, He only lets us use it.” The wisdom of a child! I then understood what Jesus meant when He described the Kingdom and said we need to be like children. The Rev. Ed Bartle St. Edward’s Episcopal Church Mount Dora, FL

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Bless the Lord

Day 304 Lamentations 4:1-5:22; Hebrews 2:1-18; Psalm 103:1-22; Proverbs 26:23

Bless the Lord

"Bless the Lord, O my soul: And all that is within me, bless His holy name!" - Psalm 103:1
How can this psalm be read without bursting out in joyful smiles and songs and dancing? The psalm tells us that the Lord forgives all our sins, heals all our diseases, redeems us from destruction, and crowns us with loving-kindness and tender mercies. Let’s dance! The psalm goes on to assure us that there will be reprimands for our constant disobedience and rebellion. Yet God does not deal with us–His children–according to our sins. (Thanks be to God!) He has not punished us according to the misdeeds we have committed for “His mercy is as high as the heavens above the earth for those who honor and seek Him.” It tells us that He has removed our transgressions as far as the east is from the west. Because He knows how vulnerable and delicately we are made. When we repent, when we turn away from our wrongdoing, He looks at it no more. We know that God loves all of His creation; after each day, He proclaimed it Good. And then, those created in His own image exercised their free will and brought sin into His perfect creation. In Hebrews 2, we are told that Jesus, through His sacrifice and by God’s gracious will, redeemed us from the grip of death. (Dance time again!) The Creeds of the church affirm Jesus in His incarnation as “Fully God and Fully man.” By being fully man and by being tempted in every way that we have ever been tempted, and yet not giving into sin, our Lord was able to “taste death and thereby break the power of him who had death at his command” (v. 14-15), so that we are be able to claim God’s mercy and total forgiveness. Bless the Lord O my soul… Let’s dance! Karin Cochran Church of the Incarnation Oviedo, FL

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Knowing Where to Turn

Day 303 Lamentations 2:20-3:66; Hebrews 1:1-14; Psalm 102:1-28; Proverbs 26:21-22

Knowing Where to Turn

The Book of the Lamentations of Jeremiah is not as well known as many of the Hebrew Scriptures, and yet it contains some of the most troubling and the most comforting passages in the Bible. The prophet minces no words in holding the Lord responsible, not only for the downfall of His chosen people Israel, but for Jeremiah’s own downfall as well. He accuses the Lord not just of acting out of anger, but of premeditated action and conspiracy with the enemy to cause, as we would say today, mass destruction. Many of the descriptions in these verses are used later in reference to the sufferings of Jesus during His Passion. Passages like these are often held up by those seeking to discredit the God of our Judeo-Christian tradition as “proof” that God is as capricious as the deities of Greek or Roman mythology – not loving, not even looking out for our best interests, and certainly not to be trusted or loved in return. So it might seem ironic that Jeremiah, after pointing a blaming finger at God for everything leading to the Exile, expresses his faith that:
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."
It reminds me of my young daughter, angry with Daddy for some reason, running up and beating her little fists against my stomach (as high as she could reach). I just let her do it until she tired herself out, then picked her up and hugged her. That was usually all it took. Jeremiah knew exactly where to turn. God is big enough to receive our rants. What we have to remember is always to turn toward him in our anger, grief, or frustration, rather than turning away – remembering that the Lord is our portion, and that His steadfast love never ceases. Thanks be to God! The Rev’d Dr. Steve Clifton Christ the King Orlando, FL

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There Are No Healthy Quarrels

Day 302 Lamentations 1:1-2:19; Philemon 1-25; Psalm 101:1-8; Proverbs 26:20

There Are No Healthy Quarrels

“Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” - Proverbs 26:20
I remember the situation like it was yesterday. My brother and I were having an all-out argument in the back of the car on the way to a Detroit Pistons basketball game. “Isaiah Thomas is the best!” I said. No way,” my brother countered. “He’s no where near as good as Magic Johnson.” After a few more assertions from each of us, my Dad had finally had enough. He told us to “zip it” for the rest of the car ride, or there would be no basketball game. My brother and I retreated to our own separate sides of the back seat, sulking. It’s amazing how childish arguments can be, especially the kind you are likely to find in the “grown-up” church. These arguments are usually started by one person or another being unable to understand the viewpoint of another person. Even worse, the arguments can be ignited or re-ignited by lies and gossip. When they are, they grow like an inferno. The important thing for believers to remember is to work diligently to cease the spread of a rumor. If someone wants to argue with you, just ignore them. This is like throwing water on a fire. Remember, it’s impossible to have an disagreement with only one person. Pastor Phil Ayers Lifepoint Church Longwood, FL

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Make a Joyful Noise

Day 301

Jeremiah 51:54-52:34; Titus 3:1-15; Psalm 100:1-5; Proverbs 26:18-19 

Make a Joyful Noise

Psalm 100 is one of the shorter Psalms, but it contains marvelous reminders of the goodness of the Lord. It begins with a call to praise, to "make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!" We are to be people who enjoy the Lord, who have His praise always on our lips (Ps 34:1). We are to serve Him not as reluctant servants, but as joyful children, glad to do the will of our Father.

The Psalmist tells us why these things should be: "Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." He is the creator of all. We worship and enjoy the one who made us and has called us to be His people. We are His sheep. His pasture is rich and nourishing, providing comfort and safety and the delightful presence of the Good Shepherd.

We are to "enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!" How often are we sour and dour when we gather to praise God? We must use even our emotions to the glory of God, approaching Him with joy and gladness. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise! Thank the Lord and bless Him!

Remember that "the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." He will never leave you nor forsake you. His love is steadfast and unending. He will be faithful to all generations of those who are His children. You people of God, make a joyful noise to the Lord!

- Anonymous

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The Heart of the Christian
Life is rooted in Three
Redemptive Acts.

Through them, Jesus enables and
equips followers to carry His love
and forgiveness into the world.
The Christian Life Trilogy is a
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