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RiverOL

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Silent Questions
Morning Encounter:
Read:
While Elijah was on Mount Sinai, the Lord asked, “Elijah, why are you here?” He answered, “Lord God All-Powerful, I’ve always done my best to obey you. But your people have broken their solemn promise to you. They have torn down your altars and killed all your prophets, except me. And now they are even trying to kill me!”
“Go out and stand on the mountain,” the Lord replied. “I want you to see me when I pass by.”

All at once, a strong wind shook the mountain and shattered the rocks. But the Lord was not in the wind. Next, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
Finally, there was a gentle breeze, and when Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his coat. He went out and stood at the entrance to the cave.
The Lord asked, “Elijah, why are you here?” (1 Kings 19:9b-13)

Reflect:
In this passage Elijah is fed up. He is worn out and tired, emotionally and physically. He has nothing left to give to his people who have trampled on his efforts. In despair he has lost hope and who can blame him? In response to his pleas, God calls him into silence and asks the question his heart needs to hear: “Why are you here?”

Respond:
What is the question your heart needs to hear? Perhaps it is “Why are you here?” Find an open space of silence and enter into a conversation with God.
Choose one night this week to rise in the middle of the night. Meet with God in the quiet. Enter this silent space and continue the conversation with God about the question your heart needs to hear.

Midday Meditation:
Inward solitude has outward manifestations. There is the freedom to be alone, not in order to be away from people but in order to hear the divine Whisper better. (Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline)
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go to a place where we can be alone and get some rest.” They left in a boat for a place where they could be alone.
(Mark 6: 31b-32)

Evening Reflection:
Reflect on your day. When today did you encounter the question your heart needs to hear? Did you enter into conversation with God? Did you bury the question with noise? Invite God into both responses. Give thanks for the gift of silence.
 

RiverOL

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The Man of Galilee
For reading & meditation: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance ... that he was raised on the third day ..." (vv. 3-4)

What other world religion has at its heart such a glorious fact as our Lord's resurrection? Christianity is the only faith whose Founder died upon a cross, was buried for three days, and then returned from the dead. There are voices in today's church trying to persuade us that the resurrection of Christ never took place - that our Lord did not rise from the dead in bodily form.

"It is not necessary to believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ in order to be a Christian," says one modern-day religious teacher. He goes on to claim: We may freely say that the bones of Jesus are still lying somewhere in the land of Israel." "I quite expect," says another religious writer, "that the bones of Jesus will be dug up one day." And a few years ago, David Jenkins, the former Anglican bishop, shocked the Christian world, as you probably know, with the statement: I have not the slightest interest in a conjuring trick with bones.

In the British Museum in London there used to be a grim exhibit known as The Galilee Man," so called because the remains were found in the area surrounding Galilee. I remember thinking to myself the first time I visited the British Museum and saw that the exhibit was captioned "The Galilee Man," how wonderful that the disinterred bones of the Galilee man are not the remains of the Man of Galilee.

Prayer:
Loving heavenly Father, help me understand even more deeply the truth of Your Son's resurrection, for such an important truth cannot be left to lie in the realm of uncertainty. Take my hand and lead me more deeply into this truth. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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The Importance of Obedience
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. —1 Samuel 15:22b NLT

In 1 Samuel 15, God gave specific instructions to King Saul to destroy the Amalekites, sparing no one and no animal. Saul almost fulfilled Jehovah’s instructions, but being almost obedient is not being completely compliant.
When Samuel the prophet approached the Israelite encampment, he heard the lowing of cattle and the bleating of sheep. Marching into Saul’s presence, Samuel demanded to know why the Israelite king had not followed God’s direction. Like many a leader, Saul first blamed it on his troops.

Far from being pleased with Saul’s response, Samuel had some harsh news for the ruler:
Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king. —1 Samuel 15:23NLT
Rebellion not only robbed Saul of his kingdom, it ultimately deprived the Israelites of their relationship with Jehovah. If you are in rebellion to God and His Word, ask His forgiveness and turn back to Him today.
 

RiverOL

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Offering Silence
Morning Encounter:
Read:
My friends, we should not all try to become teachers. In fact, teachers will be judged more strictly than others. All of us do many wrong things. But if you can control your tongue, you are mature and able to control your whole body.
By putting a bit into the mouth of a horse, we can turn the horse in different directions. It takes strong winds to move a large sailing ship, but the captain uses only a small rudder to make it go in any direction. Our tongues are small too, and yet they brag about big things.

My dear friends, with our tongues we speak both praises and curses. We praise our Lord and Father, and we curse people who were created to be like God, and this isn’t right. Can clean water and dirty water both flow from the same spring? Can a fig tree produce olives or a grapevine produce figs? Does fresh water come from a well full of salt water? (James 3:1-5a, 9-12)

Reflect:
The first expression of silence is found in receiving it. The second expression of silence is found in giving it. Words, unbridled, destroy community. Words, fitly spoken, create community and emerge from the open space of silence. The tongue is not bridled through will power; it is bridled in silence spaces with God where he can change our hearts.

Respond:
Choose a half a day this week to go without speaking. If you can’t go half a day, try a few hours. Don’t ignore people, but explain beforehand that you are trying an experiment in silence. Notice when you feel compelled to control or manage others. What are you free to notice?

Midday Meditation:
'Silence is primarily a quality of the heart that leads to ever growing charity.' (Henri Nouwen: The Way of the Heart)
Pause and reflect on the receiving of silence that is the “quality of the heart.” Then reflect on the giving of silence “that leads to ever growing charity.”
My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. (James 1:19)

Evening Reflection:
Lord and Master of my Life:
Take from me the spirit of sloth,
Despondency, lust for power and idle talk.
And give your servant instead
A spirit of chastity, humility, forbearing, and love.

O Lord my King,
Grant that I might see my own shortcomings
And not judge my fellows:
For blessed are you to the ages of ages. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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A Basic Precondition
For reading & meditation: John 20:1-18
"They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)" (v. 9)

The late Bishop John Robinson stated: "The resurrection of the body of Christ is no essential belief for Christian people, and it would make no difference to their faith if the Lord's body had been flung into the Valley of Hinnom, like those of the malefactors, to disintegrate among the rotting corpses." Such a statement flies in the very face of Scripture. Paul wrote: "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe ... that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9, italics added). Here Paul makes it crystal clear that acceptance of the fact that Christ rose from the dead is a basic precondition for being a Christian. But what exactly do we mean by resurrection?

"Spiritual survival" is how the liberals in the church define it. But it was not just the spiritual part of Jesus that continued after the tomb - it was the total Christ. True, His body possessed additional powers and properties, but the physical frame which housed His spirit after He left the tomb was the same one that was nailed to the cross. "See my hands," He said to doubting Thomas, "put [your hand] into my side ... and believe" (John 20:27). Eric Sauer, a writer and Bibleteacher, makes the point: "Just as our Lord's body was capable of transfiguration without losing its identity, so it was capable of disfiguration without losing its identity." Make no mistake about it, our Lord's resurrection was a physical one. If it wasn't, then there is no salvation.
Prayer:
Father, if I am not sure of the resurrection how can I be sure I am saved? However, I am sure, for I live in a resurrected Christ. Since He was resurrected, I know I shall be too. Death has been conquered. Hallelujah!
 

RiverOL

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The Scarlet Thread
Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. —Joshua 2:18 ESV

The encounter between Rahab and the Israelite spies in Joshua 2 provides another illustration of the salvation offered by Jehovah.
The scarlet cord suspended from Rahab’s window was symbolic of her faith in the God of the Israelites, representative of her belief in the stories she had heard of His power and deliverance. She had not only chanced the loss of her life, but those of her family by hiding the Hebrew spies and providing a way of escape for them. Her reward was a place in the lineage of Christ as the mother of Boaz, the great-great-grandfather of David.

There is a scarlet thread interwoven through the pages of the Old Testament. It, and the prophecies also contained therein, present an unimpeachable picture of the Messiah from birth to death and resurrection.
You have been offered cleansing and salvation through the blood of Christ. Accept that freely given gift today.
 

RiverOL

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Freedom of Silence
Morning Encounter:
Read:
Be careful what you do when you enter the house of God. Some fools go there to offer sacrifices, even though they haven’t sinned. But it’s best just to listen when you go to worship. Don’t talk before you think or make promises to God without thinking them through. God is in heaven, and you are on earth, so don’t talk too much. If you keep thinking about something, you will dream about it. If you talk too much, you will say the wrong thing.
God doesn’t like fools. So don’t be slow to keep your promises to God. It’s better not to make a promise at all than to make one and not keep it. Don’t let your mouth get you in trouble! And don’t say to the worship leader, “I didn’t mean what I said.” God can destroy everything you have worked for, so don’t say something that makes God angry.
Respect and obey God! Daydreaming leads to a lot of senseless talk.
(Ecclesiastes 5:1-7)

Reflect:
Religious talk can fall into the trap of image management. We often use religious words to convince others and sometimes ourselves that we are holier than we are. In the space of receiving silence, we come to terms with who we really are. In the space of giving silence, we give up the need to control our image. We are who we are and that frees us to use our words to strengthen and support others.

Respond:
Choose one of the following experiments to try today:
Avoid using “absolute” words, like: all, everybody, always, no one, nobody, never, none, every, everyone. We often use these words to manipulate and control others.
Don’t use your words to defend yourself. Enter into the silent space of trusting in God as your defender. In conversations let someone else have the last word.

Midday Meditation:
‘Silence and especially true listening are often the strongest testimony of our faith. A major problem for Christian evangelism is not getting people to talk, but to silence those who through their continuous chatter reveal a loveless heart devoid of confidence in God.’
(Dallas Willard: Spirit of the Disciplines)

Evening Reflection:
Reflect on your day. How did your experiment teach you to give the gift of silence?
When the way seems dark before me, give me grace to walk trustingly:
When much is obscure to me, let me be all the more faithful to the little that I can clearly see:

When the distant scene is clouded, let me rejoice that at least the next step is plain:
When what Thou art is most hidden from my eyes, let me still hold fast to what Thou doest command:
When insight falters, let obedience stand firm:
What I lack in faith let me repay in love.
 

RiverOL

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The Swoon Theory
For reading & meditation: Acts 2:29-41
"God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact." (v. 32)

Let us pursue the question we asked yesterday: What exactly do we mean by resurrection? Some try to explain the resurrection as resuscitation - the return to life from apparent death. Those holding this view subscribe to what is called "The Swoon Theory." There are two forms of this theory. One maintains that Jesus did not die but fainted on the cross and returned to consciousness when He was laid on the cold rock of the tomb. The other claims that after drinking the wine vinegar that was given to Him when He cried "I am thirsty," He fell into a stupor so deep that it was mistaken for death.

But clearly our Lord actually died. The Gospels provide us with medical evidence for the fact. One of the soldiers pierced His side and there came forth "blood and water" (John 19:34). A doctor commenting on this says: "The pericardium (the sac around the heart) was punctured and the colorless fluid flowing from the wound proves that life would have been extinct." Was it really a convalescent Christ the disciples encountered on that first Easter Day? Could such a pathetic and powerless figure have convinced them that He had conquered death and was alive forevermore? No, the Master, as it were, had flung from His face the mask of death, and laid down in the hearts and minds of His disciples an impression that stayed with them throughout the whole of their ministry. He who had been dead was now alive - gloriously and resplendently.

Prayer
O Father, You whose very nature is truth, would You foist upon us a lie and have us believe Your Son rose from the dead when He did not? I cannot believe it. The life by which I live is resurrection life. I cannot be alive in someone who is dead. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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God's Covenant Plan
Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. —Amos 3:7 NKJV

God’s plan did not begin with the birth of a baby in Bethlehem; it began before He laid out the foundation of the world and spoke it into being. Jehovah provided a perfect picture of the plan when He gave Moses the design for the feast days to be observed by the Israelites.

God wanted them to see the shadow of what was to come and revealed it to prophets, priests, and kings long before the angel appeared to a young virgin named Mary.
God’s timing is never random, something left to the whim of mankind. No, it is the meticulous unfolding of a covenant plan that began in Genesis and will conclude with the last verse of Revelation.
In all 66 books of the Bible, you are presented with one snapshot after another of the revelation of Jehovah’s grace and mercy and His plan of redemption through Jesus, the Messiah.
 

RiverOL

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When Silence Blossoms
Morning Encounter:
Read:
You know that our ancestors were told, “Don’t use the Lord’s name to make a promise unless you are going to keep it.” But I tell you not to swear by anything when you make a promise! Heaven is God’s throne, so don’t swear by heaven. The earth is God’s footstool, so don’t swear by the earth. Jerusalem is the city of the great king, so don’t swear by it. Don’t swear by your own head. You cannot make one hair white or black. When you make a promise, say only “Yes” or “No.” Anything else comes from the devil.
(Matthew 5:33-37)

Reflect:
In this passage Jesus cuts right to the heart of the human drive to control, specifically our drive to control others with our words. He breaks down our assumption that we are in charge. This stark reality is frightening, unless firmly rooted in the freedom to let God be in control. When we sit in silence with God the roots of trust grow and blossom into the fruit of giving silence to others. In silence, we can finally release our death grip on our lives and the lives of others.

Respond:
Think back to the life of Jesus. He was often misunderstood. His contemporaries understood him to be Elijah, John the Baptist resurrected, a freedom fighter, an a prophet. And yet we don’t see Jesus rushing to set them straight. When he spoke, he did not manipulate or force or coerce.
In what ways can you give up the right to be understood? Release what others think about you into the hands of God.

Midday Meditation:
Let love and loyalty always show like a necklace, and write them in your mind. God and people will like you and consider you a success. With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.

(Proverbs 3:3-6)
Evening Reflection:
‘One day God spoke to me and I heard these words, “You won’t be overcome.” God wants us to be strong in our certainty in him, always, both in good times and in bad. The Lord loves us, and God so enjoys our company.
God loves being with us and wants us to love him and enjoy being with him and trust him completely, and all will be well.’
 

RiverOL

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The True and the False
For reading & meditation: 2 Timothy 1
" ... our Savior, Christ Jesus ... has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light ..." (v. 10)
Several of the world's religions, when faced with the perplexing issue of Christ's return from the dead, explain it in terms of reincarnation. A proponent of one of the Eastern religions says: "Christ's resurrection was really a reincarnation - another soul in another body." I once heard a Christian minister declare that Paul's reference to Christ as the firstborn from among the dead (Col. 1:18) was a clear allusion to reincarnation. There is no doubt that our Lord came from a virgin womb and a virgin tomb, but the body that emerged from the sepulchre was not fashioned in the tomb as it had been when He was an infant in Mary's womb.

The body was the same one as before. Others try to explain Christ's resurrection as living on in the recollection of others. "To live in the minds and hearts of those we love," goes a well-known saying often heard at funerals, "is not to die." It has to be acknowledged that some live so vibrantly that it is hard to think of them as dead even after one has attended their funeral. But when we talk about Christ's resurrection, we are not saying He survives in our memories. Recollection is not resurrection. The body which died upon the cross and was laid in the cool tomb on the evening of the first Good Friday was miraculously infused with life once again early in the morning of the first Easter Day. It is as literal and as factual as that. This - nothing less and nothing else - is what we mean by the resurrection of our Lord from the dead.

Prayer:
Father, I am so thankful that in bringing Your Son back to life You brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. I know this to be true for in You there cannot be such a thing as death. Life is so sure - as sure as You are. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Want Financial Freedom?

. . . as poor, yet making many rich;
as having nothing, yet possessing everything—2 Corinthians 6:10


We ache for financial freedom. We imagine being one day free from worry about money. We dream of security and peace. Mostly, we never experience any of that; mostly, we just experience financial stress. How come? Well, let’s back up. Financial freedom comes only with financial margin. Financial margin is the difference between (1) money coming in and (2) money going out—between income and expenses. Without margin of sufficient size, we’ll never achieve financial freedom.

The problem is, when we men think about margin we usually focus only on the first part of the equation, on our income. We do this because we’ve come to trust money. We’ve come to believe it can solve all problems—if we get that job, that promotion, that bonus, then everything will be great. This trust is misplaced (Revelation 3:17). We should trust God. We should trust the one who can do all things, instead of hoping money will.

When we broaden our focus, however, when we focus too on the second part of the margin equation, on our expenses, we find the key to financial freedom. Though we convince ourselves otherwise, there are always ways to reduce expenses to achieve margin. It’s the way God designed things. So, when we decide, finally, to apply downward pressure on our expenses—on our lifestyles—we find that financial freedom is not actually elusive, but available right here, right now, the way God intended (1 Timothy 6:7-8; Hebrews 13:5).



Do a review of your expenses. How much margin do you have? If you need to, find at least one or two significant items to cut . . . and commit to doing more such reviews, and on a regular basis. Trust God to give you everything you (and your family) will ever need.
 

RiverOL

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The Mystery Rolled Back
For reading & meditation: 1 Corinthians 15:50-58
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (v. 55)

Mark's observation "that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away" (Mark 16:4) seems a simple statement, but behind it lies a truth that is positively staggering in its implications. One is that no longer can death be an intimidator. "Death," said someone, "is the great enigma of life; humanly speaking, it is the one secret of the universe which is kept, the silence of which is never broken." To the weary and despairing, death may come as a friend; the cynical and disillusioned may meet it with indifference; to the healthy and the happy it may appear as a foe; but it comes to all.

Death is like a great stone that blocks the path of human aspiration. How certain can we be of the continuity of life beyond death? What modest person would find in himself anything worthy to endure for all eternity? Such questions have been asked down the centuries. Death is a mystery - "the undiscovered country from which no traveler returns." Then came the first Easter Day, and the stone was rolled away. One Traveler did return. Death is an abysmal cavern no longer but a tunnel with light at the farther end. If people have seen it as a blind alley, then they need think no longer in those terms. It is now a thoroughfare, a highway. "'Tis death is dead, not He," said the hymnist. The mystery is a mystery no more. The stone that was rolled away the first Easter morn was not just the rock that sealed the tomb. Our Lord rolled back for us the mystery of death also.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, I rejoice and rejoice continually in Your glorious and triumphant victory over death. For Your victory is my victory. Help me to live by it, in it, and for it. I am grateful to my depths - grateful forever. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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The Passover Lamb
Thus says the Lord: “About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals.”—Exodus 11:4-5 NKJV

In Exodus 11, it is written that Moses and Aaron were sent to warn the Egyptian ruler of the last terrible plague that was to be poured out upon the land and its people.
Moses was vitally aware of what was about to befall the Egyptian people. Remember, as a baby, he had been saved by Pharaoh’s daughter because of an edict that demanded the deaths of all babies born to the children of Israel. Because of that action and the king’s refusal to free God’s people, a dire penalty would be exacted not only on Pharaoh’s household but also on each family in the land of Egypt. Because God is a God of love, He made a way for the Israelites to escape the sentence of death that had been pronounced.

In Exodus 12, Moses delivered the instructions from Jehovah on the selection of the perfect lamb in preparation for the tenth and final plague. The animal, without spot or blemish, was to be chosen and removed from the flock on the tenth day of the month. The owner was to feed and lovingly care for the lamb. Imagine how carefully the lamb must have been chosen and with what regret it was slain!

Do you have a relationship with the perfect Lamb of heaven that was slain for your salvation?
 

RiverOL

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Not an Exit - an Entrance
For reading & meditation: Matthew 28:1-15
"... an angel of the Lord ... going to the tomb, rolled back the stone ..." (v. 2)

Was it really necessary for the stone to be rolled away before our Lord could exit the tomb? Christ's resurrection body was able to pass easily through doors, for He came to His disciples when the doors were shut. The stone was rolled away not that our Lord might come out but that the disciples might go in. It was intended not as a means of exit but as a means of entrance. One preacher put it like this: "God rolled away the stone not that His Son might rise, but that we might know He had risen; that we might steal into the empty tomb and see only the place where they laid Him."

My pastor when I was a young Christian said: "Suppose we live in a home that has no electricity and a young nephew comes to stay with us for a weekend. Suppose also when we put the child to bed there is in the corner of the room a dark curtain which hides such things as traveling cases. And suppose further, when we are about to leave the room taking the light with us, the child falteringly confesses to a fear that on the other side of the dark curtain is someone that might harm him. What do we do? We go to the curtain, fling it aside, flood the gloomy recess with light and say: 'Look, there is nothing to fear.'" To remove the curtain is to remove the dread. That is why God rolled away the stone. It was not necessary for the resurrection, but it was necessary for its proclamation.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, had You stalled at the last ditch, had You been beaten at the barrier of death, then we would be stalled eternally. But now we go through the barrier with You. Nothing can stop us. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Removing the Stain
Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
—John 1:29 NKJV

Picture the body of Jesus as it hung on the cross. The wounds He bore were in His head, His hands, and His feet—a depiction of the cross. When the Israelites observed the very first Passover, each head of the house applied blood to the lintel over the door and to the doorposts on either side, forming a cross. Jesus said, “I am the door.”
When faced with a visit from the Death Angel, the only method of deliverance was through the blood of the lamb being applied to the doorposts of the home. John, the disciple, said of Jesus, “Religion doesn’t take away the sin of the world.”

Being charitable doesn’t remove the stain of sin. Attending church or being baptized doesn’t save anyone. The only way of salvation for you and me is through repentance and acceptance of the blood sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
 

RiverOL

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Lifelong Learning
Morning Encounter:
Introduction
Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp that gives light wherever I walk.” We have the amazing gift of the Bible which uniquely tells the story of God’s interaction with his creation, but how often do we actually apply ourselves to properly study it- to grapple with its structure, genres, imagery and language, authorship and context? There is so much wealth to be mined. This week we are going to look at why, how and when to get digging.

Read:
If you are already wise,
you will become even wiser.
And if you are smart,
you will learn to understand
proverbs and sayings,
as well as words of wisdom
and all kinds of riddles.
Respect and obey the Lord!

This is the beginning
of knowledge.
Only a fool rejects wisdom
and good advice.
My child, obey the teachings
of your parents,
and wear their teachings
as you would a lovely hat
or a pretty necklace.
Proverbs 1:5-9

Reflect:
Have you ever come across an anti-intellectual attitude among Christians? There are those who hold that discipleship is a matter of blind faith, simple trust, child-like obedience. They frown on theology degrees, Biblical scholarship, critical analysis of any sort.
In this passage, the wise add to their learning, and their learning helps them understand proverbs, parables and riddles (NIV1:5-6). They know that fearing God is the foundation- the starting point- but they build on it. They place high value on what they can learn from others, accepting instruction and listening to those who have something to teach (1:7).

Respond:
What opportunities do you have to further your learning and grow in your understanding of the Bible? Is there a book you could read? A course you could sign up to? Consider ways you might invest in the intellectual side of your life with God.

Midday Meditation:
“Jesus made it unmistakably clear that the knowledge of the truth will set us free. ‘You will know the truth and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Good feelings will not free us. Getting ‘high on Jesus’ will not free us. Without a knowledge of the truth, we will not be free.” (Richard Foster)

Evening Reflection:
“You who are the true source of life and wisdom, grant me keenness of understanding, ability to remember, measure and easiness of learning, discernment of what I read, rich grace with words. Grant me strength to begin well my studies; guide me along the path of my efforts; give them a happy ending. Amen.”
 

RiverOL

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A Glorious Uprising
For reading & meditation: Acts 13:16-41
"... 'You will not let your Holy One see decay.' " (v. 35)

We spend one more day considering the implications arising from the rolling away of the stone. What did that rolled-away stone reveal? Well, follow the women into the tomb. Its just a large hole hewn in a rock. What do you see? Just "the place where they laid him" (Mark 16:6). All that was left were the graveclothes. Note that Peter saw "the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head" (John 20:6-7). Some scholars say that the Greek words used to describe the head-cloth signify that it still had an annular shape - that it still indicated the outline of His head.

Can you see what this suggests? He passed through it without it being unwound. This was no laborious unwinding! This was a glorious uprising! There was no possibility that the graveclothes could have looked the way they did without a resurrection. Had the head-cloth been torn apart, the impression gained would have been quite different. It was probably this simple but tremendous fact - the fact that Jesus had clearly passed through the shroud without it being unwound - that convinced the first observers they had witnessed the miracle of resurrection. Do you think of a tomb as being cold and eerie? That is not our Lord's tomb. No, it is quiet and calm. Our crucified God rested for hours and hours on a cool bed of rock. And to quote the poet Alice Meynell: All alone ... He rose again behind the stone.

Prayer:
O Jesus, You who are not an evader but a confronter of problems. You have faced everything I face including death. And yet You went through it, not around it. You conquered death by going through it, and now because I am in You I shall conquer it also. Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Clean Hands
There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth. —Proverbs 30:12 ESV

While we may laugh at the Peanuts cartoon character Pigpen, who is always surrounded by a cloud of dust, and chuckle over scenes of people tumbling into a mud puddle or being splashed with dirty water, it would be distasteful for most not to have a daily bath or shower. Yet we eschew the spiritual cleanliness of which Solomon wrote in Proverbs and James in the New Testament:

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded (James 4:8 ESV).
As we watch, work, and wait, we, like the child Jesus, must be about our heavenly Father’s business (See Luke 2:49).
Jesus charged His disciples with their task in John 9:4:
We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work (NLT).
Not only must we listen for the sound of the trumpet, we must take time daily to re-evaluate our relationship with our Lord, before the trumpet sounds.
Ask Him, through the Ruach HaKodesh—the Holy Spirit—to reveal any sin in your life, and pray for help to live the life God has called us to live in Him. His grace is sufficient in every situation and circumstance of your life.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Healthy Eating
Morning Encounter:
Read:
Israel, do you want to go into the land the Lord promised your ancestors? Do you want to capture it, live there, and become a powerful nation? Then be sure to obey every command I am giving you.

Don’t forget how the Lord your God has led you through the desert for the past forty years. He wanted to find out if you were truly willing to obey him and depend on him, so he made you go hungry. Then he gave you manna, a kind of food that you and your ancestors had never even heard about. The Lord was teaching you that people need more than food to live—they need every word that the Lord has spoken.
Over the past forty years, your clothing hasn’t worn out, and your feet haven’t swollen. So keep in mind that the Lord has been correcting you, just as parents correct their children.
Deuteronomy 8: 1-5

Reflect:
The Israelites had lived in the wilderness for 40 years, absolutely dependent on God for their very survival. They were on the cusp of a much easier way of life in their own land, where they would be able to feed and clothe themselves, and grow prosperous and comfortable.
In this place, they would need to remember their need of God. They would need to hold onto the truth that humanity needs more than calories to fully live (8:3).
The word of God is nourishing. It is necessary for our spiritual health. As we study it, God will use it to discipline us, and we will mature.

Respond:
Are you living on ‘bread alone’? Ask God to nourish you through his word as you give it greater priority and attention in your life.

Midday Meditation:
Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you’re at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them. (Deuteronomy 6:6-8)

Evening Reflection:
“In order to read the Scriptures adequately, it is necessary at the same time to live them…Reading the Scriptures is not an activity discrete from living the gospel but one integral to it. It means letting Another have a say in everything we are saying and doing.”
 
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