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Twenty-six men and One woman have

been executed in United States in 2014.

Scripture

Daily Bible Reading for August 27, 2014, with Commentary: Psalm 102-104

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Context: The writer of Psalm 102 could be anyone who has ever had a time of suffering or stress or sorrow or weakness in their life.  As a man, in the hours before His death, Jesus could have prayed this psalm to His Father.  It is a psalm we can find comfort in when going through a difficult time, knowing we are not alone.  Psalm 103 was written by David.  It is a psalm of great praise!  David was rejoicing when he wrote this psalm!  Praising the Lord for all the mercies, no matter how small that He has given us.  The author of Psalm 104 is unknown, yet like the psalm before it, it is one of great praise!  Psalm 104 praises our wonderful Creator!

 

Daily Bible Reading for August 26, 2014, with Commentary: 1 Chronicles 15-19

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Context: David’s first attempt at moving the ark ended in disaster.  Instead of relying on others to tell him how it should be moved, David followed the instructions of the Lord, given through Moses.  The day the ark came to Jerusalem must have been a great day!  I imagine that the people who were there would remember that day for the rest of their lives.  They would tell the story of the singing and joy in Jerusalem to their children and grandchildren.  David arranged for the music.  It was a joyous occasion!  At least one psalm (Psalm 105), was written by David about this occasion.  David sought to build a house for the Lord, but the Lord told him that it was not for him to do.  David’s heart was in the right place, but the Lord had other plans.  David marvels and is overwhelmed at the promises the Lord has made to him.  David was very successful in battle and he continued to follow the instructions of the Lord not to collect horses, unlike Solomon.  Notice all the spoils of war acquired by David.  These were later used by Solomon to build the Temple.  In chapter 19, God shows us that although David could be hot-headed at times, he tried to live in peace.  In this case, it was the Ammonites who made war against David, who had sent a delegation to express sympathy.  

Daily Bible Reading for August 25, 2014, with Commentary: Numbers 9-12

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Context: In chapter 9, the Israelites are again instructed to celebrate the Passover, and are also given instructions for celebrating by those who are ceremonially unclean.  Notice that when Moses had a problem, he took it to the Lord.  The Lord would lead the Israelites, by a fire at night or cloud during the day.  We should put the Lord at the head of our lives, to lead us, just as He did for the Israelites.  In chapter 10, the final preparations are made for the Israelites to resume their journey.  The Lord had given detailed instructions on how the Israelites were to march.  Chapter 11 shows the complaints by the people and by Moses.  The people complained about God and His provisions, where as Moses complained to God.  However, Moses was taking on more than God had given him, which is why he was strained.  Nevertheless, God gave him help in the form of 70 elders.  These elders became known as the Sanhedrin, who thousands of years later, met one night and sentenced Jesus Christ to death.  The Lord also provided a significant amount of meat for the Israelites and they were punished for their gluttony.  In chapter 12, Miriam and Aaron speak out against Moses.  Miriam is the instigator and for that she is punished with leprosy.  Moses, like Jesus, is meek and forgiving and prays for her health to be restored.

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection, for the week of August 24-30, 2014, is John 10:25-30.  Jesus has been asked to speak plainly and tell those listening if He was really the Messiah.  Jesus had been performing miracles, granting forgiveness, and teaching without being trained, yet they still demanded more proof!  In response, Jesus again turns to the metaphor of a sheep and a shepherd.  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s passage, consider to which flock you belong: that of Jesus or the world?

 

Jesus answered them,“I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me,but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.I and the Father are one.”  (John 10:25-30, ESV)

 

Are you a shepherd?  Are you familiar with shepherding in ancient Rome?  No?  Well, very few of us probably are.  How do you picture shepherds leading their flock?  Being herded with dogs?  Or, perhaps it is done by horseback?  Today it may be done that way, but years ago, shepherds led with their voice.  The sheep knew and recognized their shepherd’s voice.  It was a voice of safety and protection.  At night, multiple shepherds would pen their flocks together, yet each shepherd was able to tell their sheep from the others.  In the morning the shepherds would call out to their flocks and the sheep would each follow their shepherd.  A shepherd protected his sheep from any one or any thing they may come to harm them.

 

Jesus is the shepherd.  We are the sheep.  The Jews questioning Jesus were not part of His flock.  They did not recognize His voice, they did not follow Him, they did not trust in Him.  What about you?  Are you part of His flock?  Listening for His voice?  Following Him?  Does He know you as one of His sheep?

 

Daily Bible Reading for August 24, 2014, with Commentary: 2 Timothy 1-2

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Author: Paul, an Apostle

Date: Late AD 60s, shortly before Paul’s death in AD 68

 

Context: This letter is not a direct follow-up to 1 Timothy.  Timothy received this letter while he was somewhere in the Asia Minor, perhaps Ephesus.  Paul knew this would be one of the last letters he would be able to write.  It is a very personal letter, containing his last words and instructions to a man he viewed as a son.  Paul opens this letter as he does every letter, with a greeting acknowledging he is an apostle, a servant of Christ.  Paul shares his love for Timothy, encouraging him to stay true to the Lord and His teachings.  Stay faithful to the Lord, unlike those who have abandoned the truth and turned to false teachings.  Paul sought to encourage Timothy to remain faithful and pass that faith on to others and to not be sidetracked by insignificant issues.  Paul presses the importance of remaining faithful to Christ, the Word of God, and not to follow the way of the world.

 

World History: According to Christian tradition, Paul was beheaded in Rome around AD 68.  When writing this letter, Paul knew his death was imminent.  He was passing on to Timothy what he knew and instructing Timothy to continue on with his work, the work of the Lord.  This letter is also one of encouragement.  Paul knew that the tide was rapidly and violently turning against Christianity.

Daily Bible Reading for August 23, 2014, with Commentary: John 7-9

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Context: Jesus was content to wait and follow God’s plan and timing for Him.  Jesus would go to the Feast, but not as His brother suggested.  Jesus went in secret for it was not yet time to reveal Himself.  During the reading of John, pay close attention to who John says it talking.  Often, “Jews” refer to the religious leaders, rather than Jews as a whole.  The theme of chapter 7 is that God’s timing will prevail!  We must know God in order to understand His timing for events in our lives.  It is debated if the beginning of chapter 8 was included in the original text or added later.  The message is clear: do not judge others without first examining yourself.  The remainder of the chapter focuses on trusting Christ.  For salvation, for forgiveness, for freedom, for understanding.  Chapter 7 and 8 are both heavy theological discussions.  There is no doubt, Jesus had much more to say on each truth He addressed and He taught each truth various times during His ministry.  Recorded here is only a small portion, but it is enough for us to understand that we must place our faith and trust in Him.  Study this section carefully.  Chapter 9 returns to the miracle-message, but continues the theme of faith.

World History: The Feast of Tabernacles (in chapter 7) occurs six months after Passover (in chapter 6).  In today’s reading, Jesus’ parentage, specifically His father, is questioned.  There is a good chance, Jesus also faced these questions growing up.  Depending on the emphasis in the statements from the crowds, which we do not know, they could have been using Jesus’ questionable and unknown parentage as an argument for why He could not be the Christ.

Daily Bible Reading for August 22, 2014, with Commentary: Hosea 1-7

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Author: Hosea, prophet to the Northern Kingdom, Israel

Date: 760 BC to 710 BC (estimated)

 

Context: Books of prophecy are often filled with symbolism, which can make them difficult to read and understand.  Hosea is no different.  Hosea is commanded by God to marry a harlot, a whore, a hooker.  Not only was she a harlot, she came from a mother who was also a harlot!  The marriage represents the Lord’s relationship with Israel.  Israel has repeatedly rejected the Lord, turned their back on Him, and sold themselves to other gods.  They were spiritual harlots.  The first three chapters of Hosea deal with his personal life, which reflects the relationship the nation of Israel has with the Lord.  Chapter 4 begins with the general complaints (1-3), before identifying the three guilty groups: religious leaders (4-11), common people (12-13a), and women (13b-14).  The remainder of chapter 4 and the entirety of chapter 5 offers three warnings for Israel and Judah: Israel’s apostasy serves as a warning for Judah (4:15-19), Israel leads Judah into sin (5:1-7), and Israel and Judah will face God’s wrath (8-15).  Chapter 6 begins with a three-fold call to repentance (1-3), which is a conclusion to the previous chapters.  The remainder of today’s reading laments the stubbornness of the nation.  This sections includes God’s frustration (4-6), the sins of the people (7-9), apostasy of Judah (10-11a), unforgiven sins (6:11b-7:7), the folly of Ephraim (8-12), and God’s lament (13-16).

World History: Hosea began his prophetic ministry during the reign of Jeroboam II, in Israel.  Jeroboam’s reign ended around 750 BC.  Hosea continued his ministry for numerous years after, as evident by the list of Judean kings.  Hosea lived during the time of Hezekiah (Judah), who came to the throne over 30 years after the death of Jeroboam II.  Hosea’s ministry was a long one!  During Hosea’s ministry, Joel was also a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel, while Isaiah and Micah were serving as prophets for the southern kingdom of Judah.

 

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