July 21 Bible reading

21 07 2021

July 21 Psalms 88:1-9 Romans 6:15-23; 7:1-6 Hosea 3; 4; 5

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.
Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.
• What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
• Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
• What should you do about that truth?

July 21 Psalms 88:1-9 Romans 6:15-23; 7:1-6 Hosea 3; 4; 5

Psalms 88:1-9

This is a song of great lament. Describing what is wrong, the singer cries out of exhaustion and loneliness. “Troubled, near death, forgotten and trapped” any singer can communicate with our God. In this song, God is described as a Merciful Savior. This lament is in fact a cry for help, not giving up, and yet on the worst day of life, it is a cry for God’s rescue. I can sing, “Even when I don’t see Your help, God I cry out to You!” When our life is full of troubles, we feel like there is no way out, we can sing Psalm 88 and know that God hears us. It is possible that Jesus did so on the night before His death. If we are abandoned or betrayed personally, we can sing this song. We know that Jesus experienced similar things.

Romans 6:15-23; 7:1-6

We are giving control over to whatever it is that we choose to follow. It is possible that you have learned over time, that your own cravings, thoughts, and feelings are not always reliable for life-altering decisions. Spiritual freedom can be found in Jesus! As our Good Shepherd, Jesus is worthy of our trust. When we choose to receive Jesus as Savior, God’s grace brings us new life. We are free from any idea that our actions are the determining factor for our salvation. Our faith in the action of Jesus is a determining factor. We are now free from the compulsion to make mistakes. We can walk away from a life of toxic selfishness. We have freedom. We now have a choice. Now we can live wholeheartedly, in a healthy relationship with God and others. We do not have to live like a bully who cares about himself more than anyone else. Selfishness breaks relationships. As Jesus followers, we are free to live by the leading of the Holy Spirit. The result is good, patient, and kind love.

Hosea 3; 4; 5

God instructed Hosea to restore his wife Gomer and love her after she had returned to prostitution. This is meant to be an example of how God had already loved His own people despite their unfaithfulness. Violence had raged in their streets, including murder. God speaks condemnation on the priests who were not in a personal relationship with God. The priests who took joy in the sin of the Israelites would not escape the judgment of God. They were not teaching the people how to be in relationship with God. The lack of devotion to God is listed as a cause for the bloodshed in their streets. God calls out the priests as responsible for the lack of spiritual understanding in the people. The living God is aware of our motives. He cares about the state of our hearts and what we choose to worship.





July 20 Bible reading

20 07 2021

July 20 Psalm 87 Romans 6:1-14 Hosea 1; 2

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.
Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.
• What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
• Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
• What should you do about that truth?

July 20 Psalm 87 Romans 6:1-14 Hosea 1; 2

Psalm 87

From the beginning, our God has made a way to live among humanity, available in the relationship. God had designed a capital city for the Israelites around a place of worship, where they could be aware of His presence and engage in a relationship with Him. This is a treasured place in the heart of God. The sacrifice for atonement, the worship, and the other activities all served the purpose of God living among them. God makes a way for a relationship with us to be possible. In Jerusalem, they were singing about God’s desire that people from every ethnicity, every nation, would find their citizenship (their very source of life) in this place and in this relationship with God. We see this faith as inclusive.

Romans 6:1-14

When we receive the grace found in Jesus, the power that sin had over us is broken. Now we are able to live in a new way. In the same way that death has no power over Jesus, our sin nature now has no power over us. You should become aware of this truth and choose to live in this way. You are no longer condemned to repeat the same mistakes of toxic selfishness. You now have freedom through God’s grace. In water baptism, we identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s a public confession of our faith in Jesus, the fact that we now live for Jesus and that our relationship with sin is dead. Now we may live a new life. It’s a beautiful moment for a spiritual family to come together and support the person who is choosing to follow Jesus. We make a commitment to help each other on this journey.

Hosea 1; 2

God directs Hosea to marry someone who had been working as a prostitute, to illustrate how the Israelites had been unfaithful to God. As Hosea and Gomer raise children. God gives the children names that communicate the results of this generations’ deep spiritual immorality. Through Hosea God predicts a future restoration of His people and His love for them. God predicts a future relationship with the Israelites when they would look to God as a loving husband more than a master. In this, we see God’s desire for a loving personal relationship with us. God loves faithfully. God provides. God brings identity and purpose in a relationship with Him. God restores after our turning from our mistakes.





July 19 Bible reading

19 07 2021

July 19 Proverbs 17:15-24 Romans 5:12-21 Amos 8; 9

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.
Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.
• What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
• Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
• What should you do about that truth?

July 19 Proverbs 17:15-24 Romans 5:12-21 Amos 8; 9

Proverbs 17:15-24

God values justice. And injustice is detestable to God. We should be aware of this and work toward justice. The decisions and character of a son or daughter can bring joy or pain to their parents. Focus on the positive, and smile at the good stuff. Do this every day and it will be better for you than taking vitamins. In Proverbs, we clearly see the value of learning.

Romans 5:12-21

Disorder, mistakes, selfishness, and their consequences entered our world through our ancestors. But even more powerful is the grace and forgiveness coming to us through Jesus! This love of God is a gift, removing our guilt and restoring our relationship with God. In this way, new life is available to everyone. Imagine just how different your life would be if only five people, that you see every day, were transformed with this kind of love. Wow! Your life would be better. Maybe we should spend this week praying for five specific people in our lives to receive the love of Jesus.

Amos 8; 9

Through the prophet Amos, God makes His plan clear. The years of rebellion and selfish pride will be punished. God will certainly judge those who reject His guidance. God will condemn the injustice of the poor. God promised judgment on the unrepentant and restoration for the repentant. Our God is repeatedly seen as a God of justice and a God of mercy. We should learn from this. Life is short. Every person should hear the call to a loving God. Every person should hear the call away from selfishness.





July 18 Bible reading

18 07 2021

July 18 Psalm 86:11-17 Romans 4:16-25; 5:1-11 Amos 6; 7

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.
Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.
• What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
• Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
• What should you do about that truth?

July 18 Psalm 86:11-17 Romans 4:16-25; 5:1-11 Amos 6; 7

Psalm 86:11-17

David has come to realize the depth of the love that God has toward him. Quoting the way that God described His own compassion, mercy, and forgiveness (in Exodus 34:6) David asks God to forgive him. David is talking through what he believes about God’s attributes. From this relational context, David makes his request of God. David is asking God to help him learn how to live. David wants personal growth in his own lifestyle. David asks God to shape his character and give him strength. He asks for strength, favor, and love. We should take those same steps today. You should take the time to do that today!

Romans 4:16-25; 5:1-11

Abraham received God’s promise by faith. In this way, he was brought into a “right standing” relationship with God. Now through Jesus Christ, the same can be true for us today. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and was raised to life to make us right with God. We find peace with God and joy in this life by receiving this promised gift of Jesus by faith. When we choose to believe that God is able to do whatever He promises, our spirit is responding to the lead of the Holy Spirit. Our hope in Jesus will not lead to disappointment. When we run into challenges and frustrations it can help us grow in the strength of our character (and our “confident hope of salvation” including Heaven). God showed love to us by sending Jesus when we were at our worst. Jesus showed us love by laying down His life for us, to bring us into a personal relationship with God.

Amos 6; 7

Through the shepherd prophet, Amos God is calling His people back to repentance. God has seen their sinful cravings. We should also look to God our Shepherd for guidance, protection, and care. This understanding of God as our Shepherd, the Good Shepherd, brings meaningful depth to our relationship with God.





July 17 Bible reading

17 07 2021

July 17 Psalm 86:1-10 Romans 4:1-15 Amos 5

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.
Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.
• What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
• Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
• What should you do about that truth?

July 17 Psalm 86:1-10 Romans 4:1-15 Amos 5

Psalm 86:1-10

David sings a prayer of wholehearted devotion to God. In a fully committed personal love for the One True Living God, David is asking for personal rescue. He sings this prayer by describing the faithful character of God first. Psalm 86 gives us a sense of the conversations David had with God. In this, we see the benefits of a personal relationship with God. In God, there is protection, salvation, mercy, happiness, forgiveness, love, and miracles. You can have a similar relationship with God. Our loving Creator is the only one who already knows you, who you really are. This same God loves you.

Romans 4:1-15

Paul explains that the relationship Abraham had with God was based on faith, not following Jewish law, nor Jewish identity. At that time some segments of Jewish people had turned their faith into a belief system that required religious actions for a person to be accepted by God (and stated that this was possible without a personal spiritual heart-felt devotion). We earn punishment for our mistakes. The loving grace and mercy that God gives us, we receive as an undeserved gift. We see this as God gives approval based on Abraham’s decision of faith (not based on if he had followed the rules in the past). Paul shows the relevance of this truth to us today. Our reasonable response would be to immediately accept the grace of God through Jesus and “repent”, turning away from our toxic selfishness (by changing the way we are thinking and changing the direction of our lives). This is only possible through Jesus.

Amos 5

There is so much to learn from God’s relationship with the Israelites. Through the prophet Amos, God is calling them to turn back from worshiping other gods and living to please themselves, back to a healthy relationship with Him. “Come back and live with me.” Often described as a daily lifestyle, living side by side. God wants us to welcome Him into our living, day in and day out. This is meant to be a wholesome life of peace.





July 16 Bible reading

16 07 2021

July 16 Psalm 85:8-13 Romans 3:9-31 Amos 3; 4

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.
Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.
• What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
• Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
• What should you do about that truth?

July 16 Psalm 85:8-13 Romans 3:9-31 Amos 3; 4

Psalm 85:8-13

There is a life-changing peace that comes from carefully listening to God. Our God is speaking to us through nature, the life of Jesus, the voice of the Holy Spirit, our relationships, and the Scriptures. Am I listening? Do I pay attention to God? Will I choose to give the time and energy needed to connect with God? Marking God’s forgiveness, let us listen to what God says and turn away from our mistakes. God will respond and speak with us. “He speaks peace to His faithful people.”

Romans 3:9-31

God loves you. Salvation, redemption, and blessing are coming to those who will respond to God in humble submission. We have all made mistakes. Everyone needs forgiveness. No one is perfect (or able to live up to God’s law, out of our own strength). We see our need for forgiveness when we see God’s standards. All people are equal in their need of salvation from the punishment of sin. The law of God reveals our inability to be pure, left to our own devices. We end up in toxic selfishness. God made a way for us to be cleansed of our mistakes, through faith in Jesus. Anyone who believes in Jesus as Savior will have their guilt removed and their relationship with God restored. By faith in Jesus, we can be free from the penalty of our sin. Freedom is possible! A new spiritual heart is possible.

Amos 3; 4

God continues to explain His loving relationship with the Israelites (and their need for healthy boundaries) through the role of the prophets. God will punish those who oppress the poor. Our Creator has the power to shape mountains and the ability to communicate with us. God has power over things that are far beyond our control, and yet God is also sharing the love. Are we learning from the life stories of others?





July 15 Bible reading

15 07 2021

July 15 Proverbs 17:5-14 Romans 2:17-29; 3:1-8 Amos 1; 2

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.
Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.
• What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
• Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
• What should you do about that truth?

July 15 Proverbs 17:5-14 Romans 2:17-29; 3:1-8 Amos 1; 2

Proverbs 17:5-14

Love is ever-expanding when we choose to forgive. We can say, “It was an oversight, so I’ll overlook it. This was done by forgetfulness, so I’ll forget it.” Obsessing on a mistake can separate close friends. Healthy family relationships are a gift that keeps on giving. So make them a priority. Growing in understanding will help you take a single comment of constructive criticism and put it to good use. An important take-away for me from this section is the importance of periodically asking myself, “Am I learning?”

Romans 2:17-29; 3:1-8

Our personal salvation is a miracle where God’s Spirit initiates faith in us and we respond by receiving God’s love. We rely on Jesus for salvation, receiving new spiritual life, and we turn away from our toxic selfishness (and self-reliant ways). Remember, it is a supernatural miracle! This produces a change of heart in us. Our relationship with God becomes the priority that directs our relationships with others. Trying to follow the directive of God without a personal relationship with God will not produce life-giving results. You need the help that only God can provide. If you are not drawing that strength for change from God you will always fall short and be frustrated. So, receive this gift from Jesus and draw your spiritual strength from this new relationship.

Amos 1; 2

Our God is alive and aware of the motives and actions of all humans. God chooses a shepherd named Amos to condemn the evil actions of specific groups of people. Our loving God does not want to see anybody suffer the pain of their own self-destructive tendencies. God calls us to repentance for our own good. God is a God of mercy and justice. God will judge those who refuse to repent. God will lift up those who repent. God shows favor to the humble. Despite all of this, people choose to create things to worship. Through the prophet Amos, God recalls the repeated sin of the people and describes their results.





July 14 Bible reading

14 07 2021

July 14 Psalm 85:1-7 Romans 2:1-16 Jonah 1; 2; 3; 4

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.
Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.
• What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
• Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
• What should you do about that truth?

July 14 Psalm 85:1-7 Romans 2:1-16 Jonah 1; 2; 3; 4

Psalm 85:1-7

We should learn from the history of Israel that God forgives mistakes. This song is written by the descendants of Korah, whose family history had seen great restoration by God after Korah’s rebellion. They did not get bitter against God for the punishment Korah received. They learned about the love available in healthy relationship with God. Learning about God should lead us to recognize His unfailing love and respond by receiving it and sharing it. When we ask God for forgiveness we can recall the ways God has proven His mercy in the past.

Romans 2:1-16

Each of us can be found guilty of “missing the mark”. All humans make mistakes and should not be judgmental of others. Yahweh God has revealed Himself to be overflowing in compassion and mercy, slow to anger, forgiving. God’s kindness is intended to turn us away from sin, our self-destructive habits, our mistakes. This includes living “me first”. God will give eternal life to those who turn away from their mistakes by faith in Jesus, and God will punish those who choose to live for themselves instead. God is aware of human behavior, good and bad. As much as Yahweh revealed Himself to be overflowing with supernatural forgiveness, He also predicted that He would punish the unrepentant.

Jonah 1; 2; 3; 4

Jonah’s heart was hardened toward other people. In particular, he did not want to see God show mercy to people who would turn away from their mistakes. We see the same lesson in Psalm 85, Romans 2, and in the story of Jonah & Nineveh. Jonah knew that God is prone to mercy and forgiveness. When God showed mercy, Jonah was enraged. This is one of many stories showing God calling leaders into alignment with His grace and mercy. God wanted Jonah to learn about mercy, and His guidance of loving-kindness.





July 13 Bible reading

13 07 2021

July 13 Psalm 84:8-12 Romans 1:18-32 2 Kings 24:8-20; 25

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.
Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.
• What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
• Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
• What should you do about that truth?

July 13 Psalm 84:8-12 Romans 1:18-32 2 Kings 24:8-20; 25

Psalm 84:8-12

From God, we can receive the love that we do not deserve. Spending time and energy in the worship of God, aware of His presence, brings life-changing joy. When we choose to do this we benefit. The people in our lives will also benefit because they will find us changed for the better. When we are at peace we are better able to bring peace into the rooms where we work and live. Here we can sing and pray, “God where You live is where I want to be.” God is the source of good things. I draw joy from trusting God.

Romans 1:18-32

Our Creator is powerful, faithful, and loving, with a nature that is unique from our own. Every part of creation that we see, speaks of this Creator, calling our attention to worship Him. There are people who suppress this truth, claiming to be wise, they have become foolish. They choose to refuse to give thanks to God, in worship. They chose to worship other things instead. Their minds have become dark and confused. Tragic symptoms come from this. God had warned people of the consequences of turning away from Him. They did not listen. Many times God tried to draw them back. Romans 1:18-22 speaks of this. Certainly, people are born into a broken world and are hurt in many ways. Each person is unique. Only God knows their internal pain and struggles. The one true living God must have more wisdom than we do. We should understand that our Creator has the right to instruct us in the way to live. Our reasonable response would be to forsake living based on our own ideas or desires above all else. Living to make myself happy first doesn’t work. Jesus called us to “repent” (change the way we are thinking and change direction). Paul is writing about such a change. This is only possible by the grace of God, given to the humble.

2 Kings 24:8-20; 25

After decades of selfish rebellion (similar to what I just described in the Romans section), the pain and consequences were too great. Finally, God allowed King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to bring destruction and take people captive. The place of worship, Jerusalem’s Temple, was destroyed. When we allow our hearts to turn away from God the results can be devastating. You see, God would not stay in “holy places” where the people turned away from Him and to the worship of other things. God held people and leaders accountable for their decisions.





July 12 Bible reading

12 07 2021

July 12 Psalm 84:1-7 Romans 1:1-17 2 Kings 23; 24:1-7

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.
Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.
• What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
• Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
• What should you do about that truth?

July 12 Psalm 84:1-7 Romans 1:1-17 2 Kings 23; 24:1-7

Psalm 84:1-7

There may a season of life where we suffer a loss. It may feel like walking through a valley of weeping. If we will draw strength from our relationship with God, we can see it turn to a season of refreshing. In the place of worship, we can find refreshing and joy. This may sound crazy, but I have found it to be true in my own life. I have also seen it happen for many others. The songwriters here had learned from God’s punishment of their ancestor Korah’s rebellion against God. They had found God to be the One who brings about redemption with repentance. Their own ability to give the choir director a song is a sign of God’s restoration.

Romans 1:1-17

Paul writes a letter to believers in Rome, overflowing with appreciation for them because of their faith in Jesus. This faith in Jesus has made it possible for them to receive spiritual cleansing and salvation. Let’s consider how that has been true for us. It’s life-changing! We should desire that the people in our lives experience the same. We can ask God for guidance, and then take steps to help share this new life with them. An essential part of Paul’s servant-leadership is his lifestyle commitment to prayer for the people he was serving. Paul includes his prayer topics for them in the letter. Remember his focus is the life-changing power of Jesus Christ, “saving all who believe”.

2 Kings 23; 24:1-7

The new king Josiah called together all of Judah and Jerusalem to read to them all of the recently rediscovered Book of the Covenant. Josiah called the people to turn away from their sin and back into a relationship with God. He was faithful to dismantle all of the places of worship to other gods. Josiah disrupted the cycle of idolatry. He brought the people back into the loving life-long commitment to God. It’s a wholehearted devotion. Sadly his sons were evil and turned people away from true worship. God was faithful to punish the killing of innocent people (done by Manasseh). This is an important lesson for us, in human history. Our God reigns in mercy and justice. He notes the shedding of innocent blood. God will not allow it to stand.