Day Nine

Psalm 90, Exodus 35:30-36:38, Esther 3, 1 Corinthians 8

Psalm 90

Ps. 90:1-2Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth,or ever you had formed the earth and the world,from everlasting to everlasting you are God. – Psalm 90 is a Psalm that was written by Moses. In light of that, verse one is particularly poignant. Moses led the Children of Israel out of captivity and to the Promised Land. Because of the sin of the people, most who fled Egypt never reached the Promised Land. Their children did. So, God was the literal dwelling place of the people. And God would be the dwelling place of Israel from generation to generation. He was, and is, and is to be their refuge, their home forever and ever. We too should make our refuge in Him.

Ps. 90:4For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. – God is eternally existent. Moses reminds us all of how small we are and how even the longest life on earth is nothing compared to God.

Ps. 90:10, 1210The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 12So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.– Moses helps us to see just how precious every day is. Like the phrase Carpe Diem, Moses is encouraging us to seize the day! I love that he encourages us to number our days so that we might get a heart of wisdom. It’s so true that an unchecked life just speeds by. As a father of four, I’m blown away at just how fast life is going. I want to redeem each day. I want to live my life in a way that brings glory to God and to live my life invested in the things that are most important.

Ps. 90:17Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! – As a pastor and as a husband, I love this prayer. I desire to see God show favor on me and those that I love. I want to see His favor on our congregation. And, I’d like to know that He is establishing the work of our hands and not us. May it be so!

Exodus 35:30-36:38

Ex. 35:31and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, – God has given each on of us gifts to be used to serve Him and make Him known amongst the nations. To Bezalel, the son of Uri, it was a lot of gifts. He had skill, he had intelligence, he could do anything when it came to craftsmanship. They were gifts from God. And, God would use Bezalel in a powerful way amongst the people in the building of the Tabernacle. So, how does God want to use the gifts that He has given you?

Ex. 36:1“Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.” – Have you ever met someone and thought, “They were created by God to do just what they are doing?” I have. Heather Flies is the Junior High Pastor at Wooddale Church and I had the privilege of serving alongside of her for seven years. She often times says, “God created me in my mother’s womb to be a junior high pastor.” She’s right. She’s great at what she does, and she loves it. I think that’s a bit what Bezalel and Oholiab must have felt as they served God in the construction of the sanctuary. They were doing just what God had created them to do, indeed what God had called them to do.

Ex. 35:5b-7“The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.” 6 So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, 7 for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more. – What an amazing problem. When God’s people obey Him, when they get excited about the work that He has called them to do, and when they give sacrificially of their time, talents, and treasure God shows up in a big way! That’s what he did here. Can you imagine a preacher saying, “Stop giving! You’ve brought too much!” That’s what happened here. I love the unrestrained passion that the people had as they sought to give back to God.

Esther 3

Es. 3 – Esther’s third chapter records the plot that Haman made against the Jews. Haman was an evil man, who hated Mordecai, and hated the Jewish people. He talked King Ahasuerus into a genocide of all Jewish people living within the king’s provinces.Verse 15, the final verse in this chapter records the contradictory feelings that Haman’s actions produced: The couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion. – The inhabitants of Susa didn’t share Haman’s hatred for the Jewish people. It’s sad to see how people with too much power can so callously think of others. Such was the case with Haman and the King.

1 Corinthians 8

1 Cor. 8:9, 138But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. – The Corinthian church had a series of issues that they were facing that were causing division in the church. One of those issues was food offered to idols. There were some in the church that saw nothing wrong with eating this food, and others that saw it as sin. Paul tells the church that there is nothing in food that will commend us to God. We’re not worse off for eating it, and we’re no better off if we do. But, Paul cautioned the church not to do something that would offend a weaker brother. If your right is something that is offensive to another believer, then it is better for you to give up your right. Paul expands upon this in verse 13 which says, “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”

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My Bible Reading Plan

Many of you have asked for copies of the Bible Reading Plan that I’m using for this year through the Bible. It’s the plan located in the back of the ESV Study Bible. You can read each day’s passages online by following this link. You can also print out your own copy of the reading plan by following this link. I hope you’ll join me on the journey! In fact, if you’re in, leave a comment on this post! I’d love to be praying for you as you go through your journey through the Bible in a year. Enjoy!

Day Eight

Psalm 89, Exodus 35:1‐29, Esther 2, 1 Corinthians 7

Psalm 89

Ps. 89:1I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever;with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. – I was reading a publication from another church today. The pastor has made it a church-wide commitment to make unprecedented attempts to reach/disciple those 18 years of age and under. This generation of American students is the most underchurched generation in the history of the United States. It is imperative that we do what Psalm 89:1 says. We need to make the steadfast love of the Lord known to all generations. We are one generation away from either losing the faith or passing it down for future generations.

Ps. 89:6-7For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, 7 a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? – Who is like our God? No one! And, I love that. There is no one or no thing that compare to the majesty and splendor of our King. Last night I was at the Chris Tomlin concert with my son, Zachary. I’ve got to tell you it was awesome to watch my seven-year-old son sing at the top of his lungs about how great his God is. That’s essentially what Ethan the Ezrahite, the author of this Psalm is doing. He’s comparing all others to God and finding them lacking. There is none like God! There is none like Jesus! There is none like the Holy Spirit! Praise God for our triune God.

Ps. 89:11, 1411The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them. 14Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.– What magnificent statements about our magnificent God. I’ll be putting my home on the market this week. I’m in an upside-down mortgage and have been a bit stressed about the process, but God is good. He has called our family to Woodbury, and I believe that He will take care of us. My God is the God who owns the heavens and everything in it. Trump Tower is nothing compared to Saturn — the planet, not the car. Everything on the earth is God’s. He has founded it and owns it all. And, He is a good who rules with righteousness and justice. I love that righteousness and justices are called the foundation of his throne. Our God loves when we strive to be holy and to seek justice.

This Psalm is actually a song of lament to be sung by the people in tough times to remember God’s faithfulness. I love again that the writer chooses to mention the steadfast love and faithfulness of God. He is faithful, even when things seem like they aren’t going our way. And, we have seen His faithfulness displayed in a New Testament sense because of Jesus Christ, the permanent sacrifice for our sins.

Ps. 89:30-33If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules,31 if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, 32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, 33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. – These verses are speaking about the children of David, but the promise of God in verse 33 could apply to all believers. God doesn’t promise us that our children will choose to walk in truth. Many are the stories of godly parents whose children have chosen to abandon the faith. I love that God continues to promise that he will love David and keep His promises. Our God can be depended on.

Ps. 89:52Blessed be the Lord forever! Amen and Amen. – The last verse of this Psalm of lament shows what our attitude should be towards God at all times. When things are good, we bless the Lord. When things are bad, we bless the Lord. The name of the Lord should be praised at all times.

Exodus 35:1-29

Ex. 35:1-29 – Moses shares the Sabbath regulations and the requirements that God has given the people to contribute for the tabernacle. The chapter records the way that the people responded, and the enthusiasm that they had to let God use what they had for His glory.

Ex. 35:10Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded: – Here is an Old Testament example of the people using the gifts that God had given them for His glory. In this case it was those who were skilled in the area of craftsmanship. There are many who believe that craftsmanship is a spiritual gift. I tend to agree. I’ve seen people with this gift used by God to advance His kingdom by enhancing the beauty of the church or by making items that help services run smoother and the message to be heard more clearly.

Ex. 25:22So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the Lord. – It was essential that all of the people responded to the call of the Lord. I love that Moses was careful to include that both men and women came to participate in giving gifts for the tabernacle.

Esther 2

Es. 2 – One of the themes of the book of Esther is for such a time as this. While that phrase isn’t used in Esther 2, it is certainly relevant. Esther and Mordecai were people who God had in Susa for this particular time. Mordecai was there because he had been taken there as a captive years before. Esther was there because she was an orphan, being raised by her uncle. She was beautiful and godly, and she was there when the king put his wife away. In Esther 2 we see the circumstances that resulted in Esther being named queen. The second part of verse 15 sums up why she rose to prominence: Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. Was this because of something Esther possessed? Yes and no. Esther possessed great beauty, and that made her stand out, but there were many beautiful women. What truly made her stand out was God. In His providence he allowed her to be where she was at this moment in time. And, God allowed her to find favor with the people around her.

Do you ever get jealous of those who God blesses with good looks, great personality, etc.? Recognize that when God does that, He gives them a huge responsibility. But, it isn’t always looks or personality that God chooses to use. God wants to use all people to accomplish His purposes. It couldn’t have been easy for Esther to be a part of a harem, or for Mordecai to live an undercover life as a Jewish man in hostile territory. But, God had them there. The chapter ends with Mordecai uncovering a plot to hurt the king. He gets the message to Esther, and Esther gets the message to the king. The men are hung, and God continues to lay the foundation for a great deliverance.

1 Corinthians 7

1 Cor. 7 – This is a difficult passage, full of “hard sayings,” thus making it difficult to understand. It requires much study of the times and circumstances as well as the knowledge of the Corinthian church to whom Paul was writing. In 1 Corinthians 7 we read about the principles for marriage, divorce and remarriage, sexual temptation, singleness, being a slave to Christ, etc. There are great principles contained in this chapter. This is a chapter that has confused readers over the centuries, because Paul says in verse 12 (I, not the Lord) am writing this to you. Here is how my study Bible describes this tough passage: 1 Cor. 7:12–13 I, not the Lord. Paul knows the oral tradition of Jesus’ sayings on divorce that were later written down in the Gospels (see note on vv. 10–11), but he is not aware that Jesus ever spoke specifically to a situation in which one spouse becomes a Christian and the other remains unconverted. He carefully distinguishes, therefore, between the written words of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels and Paul’s own understanding of how Jesus’ teaching would apply to this new situation. Paul views his admonition here as authoritative and inspired, not merely as human wisdom (v. 40; cf. 14:37–38). a wife . . . a husband who is an unbeliever. Is the believing partner defiled by being married to and having sexual relations with an unbeliever? Should they divorce? Clearly the believing partner is not defiled, for Paul says that if the believing partner has any say in the matter, they should not divorce.

1 Cor. 7:5Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. – Paul wisely talks about how depriving your spouse of sexual relations can create a wedge in your marriage and create a foothold for Satan to work. This would also be true of depriving your spouse of whatever his or her need is. There are a lot of great books that have been written on the needs of husbands and wives, love languages, etc. Sometimes marriages are derailed because one partner refuses to meet the need of another partner due to feeling like his or her needs aren’t being met. That is wrong. Affection and communication are needs that many people have before they can even think about sex. To require sex but not meet the needs of affection or communication is wrong. It’s also true the other way around. Paul is wise though when he emphasizes the area of sex. More than any other area when this need is not met, there is a foothold for temptation; especially in today’s supercharged sexual arena where images and sexually charged messages are constantly bombarding men and women from billboards, television sets, songs on the radio, the Internet, etc.

1 Cor. 7:8-98 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.- Is Paul saying that all people should remain single? Is it better to be single? No. But, for those of you who are single, look at this period of time in your life as an opportunity to serve God with everything that you have. As hard as singleness can be for some, this is a time where God can work through you to accomplish things that you could never accomplish if you were responsible for a family. I have seen many singles waste those years on frivilous living. Don’t waste your life. Following God is an adventure! That doens’t mean that you need to go to Africa, but it does mean that you can be used by God, right now, to change the world of people all around you. If you need help on how to do this, e-mail me at bschulenburg@wccmn.org.

Day Seven

Psalm 88, Exodus 34, Esther 1, 1 Corinthians 6

Psalm 88

Ps. 88 – Psalm 88 is a song of lament. The author of the psalm is troubled so much that even his friends shun him. Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever been so distressed that no one wants to be around you? I know I have. There have been times where things just seem so rough that I have been consumed with dread. The psalmist does the correct thing. He brings his lament to the only One who can truly change things — God. But, even God seems silent to the writer of this psalm.

So, does God’s silence mean that we should no longer pray? No! Continue to cry out to Him. He sometimes allows suffering in order for us to draw closer to Him. It’s not an easy road to walk, but it is sometimes the best road. Better to be distressed but dependent upon God than content with no need for God.

Exodus 34

Ex. 34:1The Lord said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. – The Lord is the God of second chances. God’s conversation with Moses here reminds me of a tender father having a conversation with a child who has blown it. The Father loves His children, and when we are truly repentant, He gives us another chance. I picture God tenderly writing the Ten Commandments on the tablets, with a heart overflowing with love towards His creation.

Ex. 34:6b-7“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” This is both a wonderful and a terrifying description of God’s grace and God’s judgment. He takes sin seriously. May we not be a curse to our children by ignoring the warnings that God gives us concerning sin.

Esther 1

Est. 1 – The book of Esther opens with the story of King Ahasuerus’ banquets and Queen Vashti’s refusal to come when summoned by the King. Her refusal to come enraged the King, and opened a door for God to work for the people of Israel in an extraordinary way. Little did King Ahasuerus realize how much his ego would be used by God to accomplish God’s purposes. God will accomplish what God wills. And, even the most powerful rulers are tools in the hands of God.

1 Corinthians 6

1 Cor. 6:1-11 – I love this section of Scripture. It has to do with lawsuits against fellow believers in Christ. To Paul, lawsuits amongst believers had no place in God’s plans. Why would believers trust the world’s system, which placed no value on God, with their disputes? Disputes between believers should be settled in the church.

Notice that Paul didn’t say that believers shouldn’t have disputes. Live as friends with someone long enough, and if you are honest with each other there will be times where you disagree. Sometimes these disagreements may become all out disputes. The beauty of the Body of Christ is that disputes can be settled internally. There is no need to run to the world to settle your dispute. Instead the counsel of fellow Christians, prayer, the Word, and time are part of the healing process.

Paul ends this section by describing the unrighteous. He writes,9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Cor. 6:18-20 – Paul gives a stern warning to the church at Corinth against sexual immorality. He tells them to flee from sexual immorality. His admonition to flee reminds me of the Old Testament hero, Joseph, who chose to flee from Potiphar’s wife. In doing so, he found himself in jail. But, jail was a better place for him to be than to lose his favor with God.

Paul also warns the Corinthians that sexual sin is a sin against our own bodies. In other words there are reverberating consequences to sexual sin that can take years to get over. I’ve never talked to a person who said, “I wish I would have had sex sooner.” But, I’ve talked to many who said, “I wish I would have waited.” I’ve never talked to someone in the years after an affair who said, “That was the best thing I ever did.” I’ve talked to several who said that if they could do it all over again they would have never left their spouse. I’ve never talked to a porn addict who said, “I’m so happy that I jumped into a life of porn.” But, I’ve talked to many who have told me how porn destroyed their life.

Day Six

Psalm 87, Exodus 33, Nehemiah 13, 1 Corinthians 5

Psalm 87

Ps. 87:1-2On the holy mount stands the city he founded; 2 the Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. – The Lord loved the city of Zion. Called the City of God, Zion was the place where the temple stood, and where the glory of God was present. So, how does God feel about us? If our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, then we are the place God dwells. What an awesome thought!

Exodus 33

Ex. 33:3bbut I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.- What a sad penalty for their sins! God, who would have been amongst the people on their journey to the Promised Land, now tells them that He will not be with them. In His grace He would not consume them, but make no mistake, God was angry. Sin angers God; plain and simple.

Ex. 33:7-1111 Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.- The Children of Israel must have been blown away by the daily display of Moses talking with God. As Moses met with God, signaled by the pillar of cloud descending upon the tent of meeting, God met with His friend. That’s right, like King David, centuries later, Moses was a friend of God. May we also be a friend of God. We have access to God through prayer. Take it. Spend time with God. He desires friendship with you.

Ex. 33:15-23 – Moses urged the Lord not to allow the Children of Israel to travel without the presence of God at their side. He appealed to God, using God’s own promises of being a favored people. The Lord relented and told Moses that He would go with them, and that He would show favor to the people. Then Moses asks God to show him His glory. God told Moses that He would not show him His face, for no man can see the face of God and live. He instructed Moses to hide in the cleft of a rock and to cover his face. Moses would be allowed to see God’s back.

I believe that God wanted His glory to be displayed to the nation, not just one individual. The nations would be amazed at the promises, power and provision of God.

Nehemiah 13

Neh. 13 – I’m struck by Nehemiah’s absolute commitment to making sure that the people didn’t make the mistakes or fall into the same sins as they had in the past. He quickly confronts sin in this passage. He exhorts the people to live holy, set apart lives. They are not to follow in the ways of their pagan neighbors. They are not to marry their pagan neighbors. They are not to desecrate the temple by working on the Sabbath or selling their wares outside of it. He is quick to point out the sin of the nation and make definitive steps to correct the sinful actions of the people. He ends this chapter, and the book of Nehemiah with this prayer: Remember me, O my God, for good. Now, that’s how I want to be remembered by God!

1 Corinthians 5

1 Cor. 5 – Sexual immorality has not place in the body of Christ. Paul has heard about a specific case that was being tolerated in the Corinthian church. The man who was involved in immorality with his stepmother was actually boasting about his conquest, and apparently, the Corinthian church had done nothing to stop the behavior. Paul warns them that tolerating such behavior could destroy the entire church. It was important that this man be disciplined and asked to leave the local body of believers. Paul gives one of the strongest arguments in all of Scripture for church discipline in verses 9-13, which say, “9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.”