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Day 186, Proverbs 20-22: “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?” (Proverbs 20:9) Wisdom doesn't claim purity but seeks it. Only One was every truly clean, and his purity comes to us by way of the cross. Wisdom is not claiming to be good apart from him. It's knowing our sin and clinging to Christ’s righteousness. We can't make our heart pure, but Jesus can.
Day 185, Proverbs 16-19: ”Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32). In our angry days, the loudest are the mighty. The bullies take the cities. But God says those who control their anger are the supermen of this world. ”Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is considered wise” (Proverbs 17:27). Jesus had every right to walk around angry. Our sin is that ugle and offensive to him. Instead, Jesus chose his words wisely and through them brought life. ”Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat it's fruits” (Proverbs 18:21).
Day 184, Proverbs 13-15: ”A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise” (Proverbs 15:12). The enemies of Jesus scoffed at him (Like 23:35), but it was their wisdom that proved to be folly. They missed out on accepting the Son of God! Why scoff when God offers his best? Is our wisdom really better than his?
Day 183, Proverbs 9-12: Isn't it striking how much better the path of wisdom is and yet how often we choose the other way? It doesn't make sense, does it? We must be more foolish and sinful than we are prone to think. Perhaps we need to lay down our own ”wisdom” and listen to another’s. Notice the difference between the wise and the foolish in these chapters. Wisdom makes the most of life. Foolishness wastes it. Some good may come, but it's circumstantial and fleeting. Wisdom gives abiding joy. No wonder Jesus lived the best possible life. Wisdom was his guide. What's yours?
Day 182, Proverbs 6-8: Wisdom is personified as the possession of God, happy to be in his care, ready to serve him. Do you notice the urgent call to wisdom from this book? We sinful people need to hear and heed the message of wisdom. We need to lay down our own understanding and ask for God’s wisdom. Wisdom will keep us from doing foolish things, from throwing our life away in momentary pleasure. Wisdom is calling. She raises her voice (Proverbs 8:1). Are we listening?
Day 181, Proverbs 2-5: The book of Proverbs is urgent about wisdom. ”The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight” (Proverbs 4:7) How do we get wisdom? ”The Lord gives wisdom” (Proverbs 2:6). What we must get, the Lord gives. How does he give it? In Jesus Christ who became to us wisdom to God (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Day 180, Psalms 148-Proverbs 1: The Psalms end with a burst of praise, as is fitting. And as we transition to the book of Proverbs, we find praise befits wisdom. As God reveals himself as wisdom, we find more reason to praise, more reason to trust, more reason to listen.
Day 179, Psalms 144-147: The Lord heals the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3). What a glorious promise. When this crazy world breaks our heart, God above comes and mends it himself. His love isn't generic. He knows the very places you need healing.
Day 178, Psalms 140-143: God does not love us less the needier we get. Our neediness causes him to fly to us. We are too often the opposite. But God looks at our need and fills us with himself. We are not a problem for him. The thirstier we are, the more grace he gives. And he never runs out.
Day 177, Psalms 136-139: God formed you in the womb. You are not a collection of random mass. You are a God-crafted original. And your creator never leaves you. He's there no matter where you go. No depth nor height nor breadth nor length will lead you away from him. He encompasses all. He leads us into the way everlasting.
Day 176, Psalms 132-135: ”Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” (Psalm 135:6) Think of all the little moments of joy in your everyday life. Those please the Lord, so he does them. Think of all the colorful fish in the oceans’ depth that we never see. They please the Lord, so he makes them. He does whatever he pleases. But he's not selfish. He's a giver.
Day 175, Psalms 128-131: Psalm 130 is so striking. ”I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” (Psalm 130:5). Waiting for the Lord isn't easy, but if we're going to go anywhere in this life, we must wait for his timing. How do we wait? By hoping in his word. The Bible gives us wisdom and Jesus gives us life. Both may feel long in coming, but with the Lord, nothing is slow. It's always right on time.
Day 174, Psalms 124-127: These songs of ascent remind us of the nearness of God. Our help is in his name, Psalm 124. The Lord surrounds his people, Psalm 125. The Lord restores our fortunes, Psalm 126. The Lord builds the house, Psalm 127. Without God’s active work in our lives, we flounder. But with him, even if we suffer, we flourish.
Day 173, Psalms 120-123: When we need perspective a Psalm like Psalm 121 gives it. We need our eyes lifted above our circumstances to the one who controls all circumstances. Maybe today, you need to make Psalm 121 your prayer to get free from the things of this world that keep you down.
Day 172, Psalm 119:97-176: ”Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). When we view the Bible that way, it becomes the first stop when we hit a crossroad. We need God's wisdom, and he gave it to us in the Scriptures. Of course, Jesus was the perfect Psalm 119 man. He obeyed perfectly, delighted in God’s law, and meditated on it day and night. More than the ultimate Psalm 119 man, Jesus is God’s message, God’s word. He is the lamp to our feet and the light to our path. He knows the way. Let's follow him.
Day 171, Psalm 119:1-96: When we believe that God is good and does good, we pick up his law and find delight in it. The goodness of God is our motivation for clinging to his word. His goodness preserves us. His word is our food. It keeps us from perishing. The Bible is our lifeline. Without it, we would go crazy. With it, we can flourish.
Day 170, Psalm 118: Praise begins and ends this Psalm, as it should our life. The works of God and the character of God seen throughout are the reasons to praise him. When we're in trouble, he is there (v.5). When we are weak, he is our strength (v. 14). When we die in the Lord, he is our life (v. 17). He's all to us.
Day 169, Psalms 115-117: Maybe today we need to say with the Psalmist of 115, ”I love the Lord.” When I say it, I feel tension flow away because I know I love the Lord because he first loved me. We have a God who is knowable, who makes us his children, who loves us. We can love him in return. What joy!
Day 168, Psalms 111-114: God is a great God. Those who walk in his ways are blessed. his greatness doesn't stay locked away in heaven. God comes to his people. He lifts them up. He makes them his. ”He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 113:7-9)
Day 167, Psalms 107-110: In the Old Testament, Melchizedek appears in Genesis 14, then disappears until Psalm 110. The New Testament is silent about him until the book of Hebrews, when the author picks up Psalm 110 and quotes verse 4, ”The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." the author of Hebrews says this is about Jesus. What if Psalm 110 wasn't in the Bible? This obscure verse holds so much meaning. What might others hold?
Day 166, Psalms 104-106: Recounting the works of the Lord is to be a constant in the life of a Christian. The Psalms are full of it. This section goes way back into Israel’s history to remind the reader that God worked wonders then, and he works wonders now. God is unchanging. When was the last time you were struck with awe at what God has done? Let these Psalms take you there.
Day 165, Psalms 100-103: Children’s prayers are filled with thanksgiving. It's the only way they know how to talk to God. But as we grow, our prayers to requests and laments. That's fine. They are biblical. But we must never forget to thank God for who he is, what he’s done, and what he gives (and doesn't give). Psalm 100 helps us get started.
Day 164, Psalms 97-99: Because the Lord reigns, we should worship loudly and joyfully. God is holy, and his holiness is our great hope. There is a God who is there, and he is holy and good. What are you facing today? The greatest Good in existence is there with you.
Day 163, Psalms 93-96: The Lord reigns, and the Lord fights for his people. But his people have a responsibility to him. They must listen. Unfortunately, the history of God’s people is littered with those who closed their ears to his word. Which will we be? ”Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden you hearts” (Psalm 95:7-8). There is a lesson from the past for today and tomorrow. We can worship him, or we can oppose him. There is no neutral ground.
Day 162, Psalms 90-92: We aren't here for very long. Our lives are short, even if they're long. What will we do with the time we have? If we've experienced the grace of God, we will share it with others. We will welcome them into God’s refuge. We will share his wonderful works.
Day 161, Psalms 86-89: Psalm 88 shows that even when we can't find the good, when hope feels lost, the faithful go to prayer. Lament is not outside the Christian experience. The Psalmist doesn't ask for much. He only needs to talk, and asks God to hear him. Sometimes, that's all we can do. Children of God go to their Father when nothing else seems good, even when he seems far, because he's the only one who can do anything about anything.
Day 160, Psalms 83-85: To be with the Lord is better than anything else. Do we really believe that? Can we say with the Psalmist, ”I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness”? That's the heart of one whose soul longs and faints for God. What if you don't feel that way but want to? There is a prayer for that: Psalm 85. Pray it today.
Day 159, Psalms 79-82: ”Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!” (Psalm 81:13). I don't think this thought has left God’s mind yet. We are so quick to stop our ears. But what if we were to open them wide and let God’s word flow in and settle deep down in our heart? ”He would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you." (Psalm 81:16)
Day 158, Psalms 76-78: No army can stand against God. He is ruler of all. He uses the kingdoms of this world as pawns in his hand, accomplishing his will. So we can find help in him. ”You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.” (Psalm 77:14) Whatever stands against us in Christ will lose. And we will stand with Christ and rejoice.
Day 157, Psalms 72-75: We long for a good ruler. God designed us to be under right authority. Ultimately, only Jesus satisfies our need. The Old Testament Saints understood God’s anointed would bring joy in his kingdom. That's why Christians rejoice under Christ's rule. When we see the world from his perspective, we understand why things work as they do. Sin ruins so much, but Christ redeems his people, and one day will redeem the whole world. The rule of the wicked will end, and the righteous will reign. ”For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.” (Psalm 75:8)
Day 156, Psalms 69-71: Sometimes life won't go well. We will be falsely accused. Even then, the Psalms give words to our heart. Psalm 69 shows us that God hears our laments. Psalm 70 shows u that praying for God to come swiftly is a biblical desire. And Psalm 71 shows us that when our strength is spent, God is there.
Day 155, Psalms 65-68: God is worthy of praise, and the Psalms help us see that: ”Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard” (Psalm 66:8). He care for us like no one else. And that care is seen most clearly in the person and work of Jesus. If he's not reason enough for us to praise, we need to look again.
Day 154, Psalms 62-64: What if we took the first 4 verses of Psalm 63 and prayed them every day for a week. What would our church gatherings look like next Sunday? Wouldn't we be more open with more joy and greater expectancy? Why not do it? God isn't the hold out. We are.
Day 153, Psalms 58-61: The Psalms are filled with trouble. They show us the true picture of life: full of enemies. We have spiritual enemies all around, and we need God’s protection. We need to know that ”with God we shall do valiantly” (Psalm 60:12). We need the rock who is higher than us (Psalm 61:2) who can be our refuge against the enemy (Psalm 61:3). But it is not automatic. We must wait on God’s timing. He knows what's best. We just need to hang on and wait for his salvation to come.
Day 152, Psalms 55-57: “Cast your burden on the Lord” (Psalm 55:22). Only the God of the Bible tells us to cast our burden on him. Other gods cast their burden on you. ”God is for me” (Psalm 56:9) is the hope we can cling to. When the world seems dark and we're struggling to find our way, we can trust that God will ”send from heaven and save me” (Psalm 57:3).
Day 151, Psalms 51-54: Repentance is not only turning from your sin. It is turning to God. It’s not just feeling sorry. It’s being convicted, becoming inwardly humbled and visibly reformed. It’s a directional change in your life from sin to God. David shows us the way in Psalm 51. Those who love evil more than good (Psalm 52:3) will find their boasting turns to mocking as the righteous laugh at his folly. He refused to find refuge in God, and instead trusted in his own riches (Psalm 52:7). What is the cure for this? The fool says there is no God (Psalm 53:1). We were all such fools at one time. The cure for our folly is God’s wisdom, which put forth Christ to become what we truly are on the cross so that we could become what he truly is in glory. We must turn to the one who upholds our life.
Day 150, Psalms 48-50: A good question to ask ourselves when life isn't going well: ”Why should I fear in times of trouble?” (Psalm 49:5). We must think Christianly about life. Iniquity cannot save, even if it appears it can in this life. Even the wise die. One day, we will all stand before the Judge, and he will have something to say about how we treated him. The goal we're shooting for? ”The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!" - Psalm 50:23
Day 149, Psalms 44-47: We need constant help from God. We need his care. We need his sovereignty. We need him to be our refuge. The Psalms show us God is all of this and more. But more than just words, God came in person to show us how thoroughly he is all these things. His throne is forever and ever. He is King over all the earth.
Day 148, Psalms 41-43: Psalm 42 and 43 go together as one. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, they teach us the cure for our spiritual depression. ”Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” We must preach the gospel to ourselves daily. We need to hear the voice of Jesus coming from our own mouths by the power of the Spirit. Then we will find our heart fill with joy in Christ as we are reminded he's *our* savior, not just *the* savior. His salvation is personal. He got involved with you. He saved you. Hope in God!
Day 147, Psalms 37-40: Psalm 37 teaches us that though the wicked fill their arms, they are not ultimately secure. Only God’s children can have that assurance. He will keep them and bring them to himself. He will not forsake us, as Psalm 38 promises. Instead, he will help us understand how fleeting this life is, and the only way to live it well is for God (Psalm 39). In the end, he will be our help and deliverer, as Psalm 40 promises. God is all this to us as he was to Jesus. And it's in him that we find the life we want most isn't the life fill of this world’s blessings but full of God’s blessings.
Day 146, Psalms 34-36: ”Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” - Psalm 34:8. When we experience God’s grace, it is nothing less than tasting and seeing his goodness. It's real that we invite others to feel it too. We share the good news because God is too good not to share.
Day 145, Psalms 30-33: Psalm 32 teaches one of Christianity’s most important truths: repentance leads to joy. When we repent, God forgives, and he pours joy into our heart as we experience closeness to him. In repentance, God goes from the one we run from to the one we take refuge in. We find he’s who we wanted all along, and he’s there to bring us back when we stray. ”Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” - Psalm 32:10-11
Day 144, Psalms 27-29: Three wonders of God leap from these Psalms—God is savior, God is refuge, God is glorious. These three go together to give us the fullness of God. He's merciful to save us, patient to keep us, and mighty to sustain us. Whatever you're facing today, the Lord is in it. He's carrying you through it to deeper reality with him. Just hang on and keep going to him.
Day 143, Psalms 23-26: "The Lord is my Shepherd." If you are in Christ, God is not just the king on the throne, he's also the shepherd in the field. He's so near that you can feel his hand guiding you. He looks out for you. He is beside you in hard times and leads you into good pastures. He’s the good shepherd. How do we know? Jesus laid down his life for the sheep.
Day 142, Psalms 20-22: Does Jesus quote the Psalms or do the Psalms quote Jesus? Take Psalm 22 as an example. Whose words are these? Verse 1a are the words from the cross. David was doing more than writing about his experience. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he prophesied about Jesus. The Psalms, then, are not merely historical songs, they are the songs of Jesus and thus the songs of his people for all time.
Day 141, Psalms 16-19: When our heart fills with fear, we need to know who God is for us. These Psalms show us the refuge we need is found deep in the Lord himself. Even more, those depths of God’s care came to us in Jesus Christ. The joy in the Father’s presence came to give joy to us all.
Day 140, Psalms 13-15: When life doesn't go well, God will do more than listen to our complaint. He will turn our complaint into singing. The atheist doesn't understand this because he doesn't allow himself to be drawn near to God. He’s a fool. He doesn't hope for salvation or restoration. He is content only to complain. But if we let God be God to us, we will find Psalm 15 become true of us because Jesus lived the Psalm 15 life. When we look to him as the salvation that came out of Zion (Psalm 14:7), we rejoice. He came. He won.
Day 139, Psalms 9-12: Psalms 9 and 10 are companions. At times, God feels near, and his deeds are evident. At other time, he feels hidden. But no matter our feelings about God, he is king forever and ever, ruling and watching over his people to bring justice. Psalm 11 reminds us that God is our refuge at all times. His ways toward us are good, even if it's hard to see them as such in the moment. Psalm 12 laments the absence of the faithful. It shows us the opposite of who Jesus is. Jesus does not lie. He does not flatter. He does not boast. He does not plunder. He does not make the needy groan. Instead, he saves in humility and honor.
Day 138, Psalms 6-8: The Psalms teach us how to talk to God. We can pour our heart out before him. He is attentive to our pleas. He bends down low to help us. We can ask him for deliverance (Psalm 6:4). We can tell him we're weary of crying (Psalm 6:6). We can run to him for refuge (Psalm 7:1). We can praise him for thinking of us (Psalm 8:4). Jesus showed us all of these emotions are normal. Our weaknesses don't make us unlikeable to God. He won't push us away. He'll bring us near. We just have to come to him. He'll take care of the rest.
Day 137, Psalms 2-5: Psalm 2 is emphatically about Jesus. The Son is the Lord’s anointed. Peace is offered, but humility is required. Those who can pray Psalm 3 can take refuge in the Son’s sovereign rule. The joy we're looking for is found in the presence of God. Psalm 4 is clear, ”You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” that's what it looks like to be led in God’s righteousness (Psalm 5). All this flows from seeing Jesus rightly. He is King. He brings justice. He sets wrongs right. He is our refuge and strength. We can walk into the rest of our days with confidence because, though the nations rage, his rule is not in jeopardy.
Day 136, Job 41- Psalm 1: Job saw the real God, and his encounter left him in repentance in dust and ashes. God has that effect on us, but that doesn't lead us to stay in dust and ashes. His grace lifts us up. We become who we were made to be by falling in humility before God. As we enter the Psalms, we find the doorway to these poems calling us to wisdom. The way to blessing is to delight in God’s word. Anything less is folly that leads to more madness. Ultimately, Jesus was the true Psalm 1 man, but we can become like him because he became like us to save us.
Day 135, Job 37-40: God answered Job. What will Job say to the Creator of the Universe? Was he there when the foundations were laid? Job responded with humility and silence. When God confronts us, that's all we have. We have no self-justification, no self-exaltation, no self-aggrandizement. We have the smallness of who we are compared to the bigness of who God is. But God doesn't use his bigness to destroy. He uses it to raise and restore. We see this most profoundly in Christ, who became small from his grandeur and through his humility raised us up with him.
Day 134, Job 34-36: ”And now, because his anger does not punish, and he does not take much note of transgression” (Job 35:15). God doesn't punish his children. He disciplines his children. The difference is found in the end for which he reaches. To discipline is to make them like him. To punish is to cut them off from him. We cut ourselves off enough. God works to restore. God desires to save us, and if that salvation means hard things in our life, we who are small are not likely to understand his ways. But God knows what he’s doing. He's the only one who could turn a cross into salvation. If he can do that, surely our sufferings can be for good too.
Day 133, Job 30-33: What else is there to say? Suffering took Job deep inside himself. He struggled to make sense of it. His problem, as we will see, was listening too much to himself and not enough to God. ”The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom” (Job 28:28). What Job needed--what we all need--is the hypothetical solution Elihu mentioned in 33:23-28. We need a mediator, one who can take the pain away and give back joy. In Jesus, we have such a mediator. He makes all in this life worth it.
Day 132, Job 27-29: Where is wisdom? ”Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28). Wisdom isn't often gained when we live at the top of our game in this life. Wisdom is found as we turn to the Lord with our whole heart. That can happen at the top of our game, but it often happens when we slip, when life turns us over, when God is the rock we fall upon. Wisdom returns to Job’s words at the beginning of this book, ”The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Day 131, Job 23-26: Job wondered where God was. Haven't we all? But he was there in the midst of his suffering. He was upholding and sustaining even when it didn't look like he cared at all. Job’s friends still offered no hope. When someone wonders where God is in their suffering, the right response is not to rebuke, calling us only worms. The right response is to help in weakness, uphold the weary arms with grace, and speak gentle, sound words of wisdom. A sufferer needs to know that ”a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” (Isaiah 42:3) God is there and is never leaving--for Job and for you and for me, even for Bildad.
Day 130, Job 20-22: Job stumbled into judgment against both man and God. He said the wicked prosper. In a sense, he was right. The wicked do seem to glide through life. But their suffering is as real as everyone else’s, and their end is far worse. Job also accused God of allowing the wicked to prosper. Job thought it was too much. Why let ”them” to live when he is suffering? What Job didn't see was how suffering pervades the world. It's all over all the time. Suffering can blind us to the suffering of others. But Jesus isn't blinded to our suffering or to other’s. He suffered with us. He knows what it's like. When we suffer, we can bring our pain to him. We need his perspective. We need his eyes.
Day 129, Job 16-19: Job recounts this suffering in chapter 19, but he was not despairing, as we saw before. Instead, he was rejoicing in his future with God. The great hope of the Christian life is that no matter what happens on this side of life, we have a glorious future to look forward to, one that includes standing face to face in our very flesh before the Redeemer. Job received his wish: the iron pen of scripture retained the words forever. Better yet, the weakness of Christ’s flesh brought them to life forever. Yes, the Redeemer lives, and he lives for you!
Day 128, Job 13-15: Job’s friends know little of Job’s faith. Anyone who has suffered knows how hard it is to say, ”Though he slay me, I will hope in him.” For Eliphaz to accuse Job of not fearing God is unfair and unjust. True faith knows death with God is better than life without him. Job learned this deep truth. Fear God? Job is the only one in the story who truly does.
Day 127, Job 9-12: Job’s friends were not good comforters. Zophar goes as far as saying God is treating Job better than he deserves. Zophar’s words are not only wrong factually; they're wrong spiritually and emotionally. Job’s suffering needs comfort, not more affliction. Throughout the book, we see that even if our doctrine is right, the way we apply that doctrine matters. We can either create or destroy gospel culture based on what we do with gospel doctrine, and that tells us what our doctrine *really* is. Gospel doctrine should compel us to be gentle with the bruised reed. Jesus will not break the reed. He'll gently heal it. Are our words the gentle words of Christ, or the harsh words of accusation?
Day 126, Job 6-8: Not all suffering in this world is the fault of the sufferer. Bildad doesn't understand that. He spoke in anger and accusation. How quick are we to do the same? God, help us! Job reminds us kindness is the way forward (Job 6:14). Jesus will not break a bruised reed. Will we?
Day 125, Job 2-5: Job’s sufferings increased as Satan attacked his body. His three friends came to visit, and as Job lamented the day of his birth, they listened quietly. Suffering people need our ears before they need our words. Even more, suffering people need to pour out their heart before God. He will receive our words, and will help us see the right way. When God responds, it's not like Job’s proud friends. Rather, it is the wisdom we all need in times of deep pain and sorrow. We will get there in due course. For now, let's see that this world includes suffering. We aren't immune. But we have the Suffering Servant with us. Jesus knows what it's like. We can follow him.
Day 124, Esther 9-Job 1: The book of Esther shows us how God takes the evil plots of men and reverses them into good for his people. Mordecai, who was to be hanged earlier, became second in command throughout the land. The bottom-dweller Jews are on top again. This reminds us of Joseph in Egypt, rising through the ranks due to his steadfast trust in God. But trusting in God doesn't always bring only good things. The book of Job shows us that. We will suffer in this world. That's a guarantee. What will we do in the suffering? That's the wisdom we need. That's what God gives us in Job. The Bible shows us God’s upside down kingdom, where the least become greatest, the last become first, the weak become strong, the suffering become saints. Through it all we know Jesus is there as our forerunner, cheering us on to himself. We will make it. And God will help us.
Day 123, Esther 5-8: What happens to the man whom the king delights to honor? It was a surprise to Haman. He believed he was the man whom the king delighted to honor. Instead, it was Mordecai the Jew. Humility beats pride. Good defeats evil. Justice overcomes injustice. God is in it all. Though his name isn't mentioned, these events were not accidents. They were God-ordained acts of care for his people. Esther saved the Jews, but it the God of the Jews behind it all. So too is it for us in Christ. He's working a thousand things in your life right now. Stay low. Stay humble. Stay open. And be ready when God calls you to do the hard thing. He'll be with you in it.
Day 122, Esther 2-4: When the Jews were in trouble, Esther was there to intercede. But she had to speak up. It's so easy to stay silent in the face of danger and oppression, but God calls his people to be a voice for the voiceless, to say what must be said, not to shrink back. That doesn't mean we go looking for a fight, but when the fight comes our way, we stand on God’s ground. His grace gives us the backbone to stand against oppression and injustice, even if it means putting ourselves in danger. That's what Jesus did in saving us. He stood in the gap, took our condemnation, and set us free. The greatest fear of suffering is that we would ultimately lose what we value most, and we would lose all hope and joy. But suffering cannot rip us from God because on the cross Christ bound us to him.
Day 121, Nehemiah 11-Esther 1: Nehemiah ends with the dedication of the wall. The job was completed. Not all was well among the people, though. Nehemiah made some final reforms as he sought to obey the Word of God. Some of his changes sound drastic to us, but the sin of the people resulted in exile before. He doesn't want that to happen again. So he does what he can, and the final words we hear are, ”Remember me, O my God, for good.” As we enter Esther, we enter a book of the Bible that doesn't mention God’s name anywhere, but he is everywhere present. The God who was faithful to Nehemiah and his people will prove faithful again to Esther and her people. God does not change. His faithfulness remains all the way down. As we move nearer to the end of the historical books of the Bible, this is what we see. God is faithful through it all, and he will continue to be. Jesus has sealed the proof and given us his Spirit to confirm to our hearts that we are God’s people. Remember us for good? He will.
Day 120, Nehemiah 8-10: God’s law was the focal point. God’s people are people of the book. Under Ezra’s leadership, they heard and confessed and repented. They restored themselves to God and made a covenant. But it is the covenant God makes with his people that will last. We are unfaithful, but God is faithful.
Day 119, Nehemiah 4-7: Every work of God will be opposed in this world. But every work of God will succeed in this world because God will fight for his people (Nehemiah 4:20). It may be the work must be done with the trowel in one hand and a sword in another, but God will be faithful. The collective work of God’s people in the church will succeed because Jesus promised the gates of hell would not prevail against it. It'll be hard. Let's keep going. And along the way, let's stand against every form of oppression as Nehemiah did in chapter 5. When we work for God, our heart grows to new capacities allowing us to work hard for him and for others.
Day 118, Nehemiah 1-3: Nehemiah coaches us in two things in the opening chapters: repentance and prayer. In chapter one, his prayer reminds us of Solomon’s plea to God in 2 Chronicles 6:36-39. Nehemiah turns his heart toward God on behalf of his people, and confesses his and his people's sin. God grants the boldness to ask the king to return to Israel and rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. He shoots up a prayer to God amid that conversation, teaching us even short prayers are effective. God ls faithfulness brought him this far. He'll take him all the way. He'll take you too.
Day 117, Ezra 7-10: Ezra went back to Jerusalem and took a calling to teach the people with him. His job wasn't easy. The people's propensity to sin hadn't been removed. They listened to Ezra's bold preaching, and they corporately confessed. The book ends, however, with sin still present among the people. Isn't that how we are? We confess only to turn and sin again. We need more than right teaching. We need a right heart. The only way that can happen is if God inhabits our heart, which he does through the Holy Spirit. Christ's work has opened a new way to God and a new way to holiness. The book of Ezra ends on a down note, but, in Christ, our story ends on a high note.
Day 116, Ezra 4-6: Adversity is part of life with God. When the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah in building the house, the people of Judah faced what every believer faces: opposition from the world. The king’s edict only made the discouragement greater. But they remembered the decree of Cyrus and appealed to the same archives for their freedom to build. God prepared the way before them. Whatever you're facing today, God is with you. Discouragement will come, but his word is everlasting. Appeal to the Book.
Day 115, 2 Chronicles 36-Ezra 3: Leaving 2 Chronicles and moving to Ezra doesn't move us far down the biblical storyline. We pick up where 2 Chronciles left off, with Cyrus sending the Israelites home to rebuild the temple. God’s plan didn't end with exile. We see the Lord directing words and hearts. He brought his people home to the land he gave them so long ago. It wasn't the same, but the same God would be worshipped. God isn't done with us yet, either, but in Christ, we know that even if exile may come, God will bring us home.
Day 114, 2 Chronicles 33-35: The story of Manasseh highlights God’s mercy and grace. His life was a complete disaster. He was evil and led others to do evil. But God listened to his prayer of repentance and restored his kingship. We are never too far gone for God to humble and bring us to repentance. Manasseh’s son, Amon, was evil just as his Dad was. He didn't humble himself and repent. Salvation is not hereditary. Every generation must have God for themselves. Our parents cannot repent on our behalf any more than we can repent on their behalf. We must be like Josiah, rediscovering God for ourselves. God must become real to us in our day. But take heart. It is God who makes himself discoverable. He comes to us and grants what we need. He's the One who is good, the One who comes, the One who saves. Let's just listen to him.
Day 113, 2 Chronicles 29-32: More time is spent on Hezekiah in Chronicles than any other king except David and Solomon. Hezekiah was a good king, faithful to God. He restored the temple and cleansed what Ahaz defiled. His trust in God over Sennacherib was commendable. Hezekiah still wasn't the king Israel ultimately needed. Hezekiah’s faithfulness saved the day, but it was the King to come who would save for all time.
Day 112, 2 Chronicles 26-28: King Uzziah’s pride got the best of him. Isn't that so easy for us? When we are strong, we grow proud, and when that happens, we fall. Staying low before God isn't only a good idea, it's the only right way to live. It's all the more amazing when we see Jesus who made himself nothing (Philippians 2). He was the single man who could be proud, and he set pride aside for us. He's the king we need.
Day 111, 2 Chronicles 22-25: ”But it was ordained by God that the downfall of Ahaziah should come about through his going to visit Joram” (2 Chronicles 22:7) "Thus says God, 'Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper?'" (2 Chronicles 24:20) ”The Lord is able to give you much more than this.” (2 Chronicles 25:9) These statements show us the sovereign God working his plan on behalf of his people and his name. Evil cannot stand in his way. No lousy king will mess up his plans. No expectation of man is big enough for God’s ability. These stories come at us rapid-fire, but the God underneath and behind them all is the same everlasting God with good purposes for his people. His way is always best. Why disobey so that we cannot prosper?
Day 110, 2 Chronicles 19-21: Jehoshaphat wasn’t a perfect king, but he did look to the Lord when it mattered most. Jehoram followed the way of Ahab of Israel and disregarded the Lord. We see this over and again in this book. Good kings and bad kings but none sufficient to ultimately save. They create a longing for the true king. Through them all we see God reigning and ruling, blessing and cursing, enabling and holding back. He’s preparing his people for the King they need.
Day 109, 2 Chronicles 15-18: Asa took the throne in Judah and served well most of his life. He and his people sought the Lord, and he was found by them. But the high places were not removed, and in his last years, the highest place of Self wasn't removed from Asa’s heart. He relied on Syria instead of God, and even in his final illness didn't seek the Lord. In his alliance with Ahab, Jehoshaphat pushed the ask the prophet of God about the upcoming war. Ahab refused to listen and was killed in battle. These chapters show us the importance of seeking and listening to the Lord because we are like sheep without a shepherd without him. Let's not go through our day today without seeking the one who promises if we seek him he shall be found by us (2 Chronicles 15:2). How can we be sure he will be found? Because he made himself findable in Jesus. He comes to us before we come to him, and when we turn his way, we find him ready to save.
Day 108, 2 Chronicles 12-14: This section shows the importance of trusting the Lord. Large armies don't impress God. Faith does. The problem with the kings was the fickleness of their faith. Some were faithful. Some were not. Unending faithfulness is needed. That's why Jesus’ faithfulness as our great King matters so much. God blesses the people whose king is faithful. With Jesus on the throne, we will never fail to receive the blessings of God. No enemy can stand against us. No idol can ultimately claim our heart. No other kingdom can overtake us. We are secure in God’s love and care because our Great King is God himself.
Day 107, 2 Chronicles 8-11: Solomon dazzled the Queen of Sheba with his wisdom. As great as Solomon was, when Jesus came, something greater than Solomon was here (Matthew 12:42). Solomon was a good king, but his yoke was heavy on his people. Jesus is greater than Solomon because his yoke is easy and his burden is light. He is the only king who will never let us down.
Day 106, 2 Chronicles 5-7: When the ark was brought into the temple, the glory of the Lord came down. There is nothing greater. It caused Solomon to pray on behalf of the people. That's the effect God’s glory always has. He presence causes our heart to respond. The temple is no more, but God is present with all his people now through the Holy Spirit. We *are* God’s temple now (1 Corinthians 3:16)!
Day 105, 2 Chronicles 1-4: Solomon ascends to the throne, and his prayer is for wisdom and understanding. What if that were our prayer as we start this week? What if God answered it for every Christian as we interacted with the world? Solomon used his wisdom to build the temple, and the world was amazed. But something greater than Solomon came in Jesus. We have with us now someone more amazing than Solomon in all his glory could ever be. What if we prayed for God to give us wisdom and understanding in how to share Jesus with those around us? What if we asked God to grant understanding to those to whom we speak? What if God answered?
Day 104, 1 Chronicles 27-29: David, the great king dies, and we see the that for all the good David did, he still was not the king Israel needed. His throne is eternal, but David’s reign is not. Another must come to sit on the throne and rule like David but without sin. Is Solomon the answer? No, but he's another step toward Jesus, displaying wisdom found fully in Christ. We’re moving on in the biblical storyline to a King who will never disappoint.
Day 103, 1 Chronicles 23-26: The book opens with a list of names and ends with a list of names. In both cases, the names are those in charge of building, organizing, and executing the worship of God in the midst of Israel. These people show us the centrality of worship in the Christian life. Worship isn't just part of a church service. Worship is a structure of life, the house in which the child of God lives.
Day 102, 1 Chronicles 20-22: David was a great king and a great sinner. He conquered armies, and he boasted in his military might. Like Moses, his sin prevented him from serving the Lord in some ways. He could not build the temple because so much blood was on his hands. That didn’t mean David couldn’t help future generations, as shown by his zeal to make preparations for the temple his son would build. David understood that serving the Lord has a price, and that price is not a problem; it is a sign of God’s value. "I will not take for the LORD what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (1 Chronicles 21:24). When God consumes our heart’s desire, we joyfully accept the cost and seek ways to honor him. Wholeheartedness toward God is the only life worth living. After all, God is wholehearted toward us. “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17)
Day 101, 1 Chronicles 16-19: Israel rejoiced when the ark of the covenant came to Jerusalem. God’s presence caused shouts of joy, singing, and dancing. Whoever said Christianity is a boring religion? David wanted to build God a house, but it wasn't to be. It wasn't that God wouldn't have a home but that he must first make David a house to establish the line from which God’s dwelling would come to fruition in Christ. When David then went to defeat his enemies, he foreshadowed the victory of Jesus over all enemies. As David won the battles, he expanded Israel’s kingdom and brought security to his people. So too did Jesus expand God’s kingdom and bring us security in his victory.
Day 100, 1 Chronicles 13-15: David aimed to bring the ark of the covenant to its proper place among the people of God. They were careless with how they brought it. The law said to carry it by poles. Instead, they carried it by cart, and when it almost fell, Uzzah tried to steady it and died as a result of touching the ark. Death as judgment for mishandling the ark sounds so harsh to us today, but God was clear about the ways of worship in the Old Testament. David and his people didn't pay attention. God was therefore justified in the death of Uzzah, even though it angered David. We have no right to bend the rules of God. They are for our good. Jesus understood this. That's why he didn't take any shortcuts. And because Jesus lived a perfect life before God, and bore our sin on the cross, in his resurrection we gain peace with God in new life. Our worship is accepted by God now in Christ, and his Spirit leads his people to worship him with a right heart renewed by grace.
Day 99, 1 Chronicles 9-12: Israel’s first king, Saul, died because of his sin. Sin is not a light thing. It is as heavy as death. In his place, David arose and took the throne. He became the king Saul failed to be: faithful, brave, true. But David’s reign did more that. His reign established the kingship of the tribe of Judah through whom Jesus would come. The Chronicler includes these things not to show us from where we came but to show us how Jesus came, and to give us an idea of what his coming meant. When Jesus came, he didn't have a throne but he was a king, he didn't have an army but he had mighty men, he didn't conquer earthly enemies but he conquered those invisible enemies that kill the soul. Jesus is the David we needed--so perfect that we never need another.
Day 98, 1 Chronicles 6-8: The list of names continues. Two lists stand out in this section. First, the Levites and their people and lands. The Levites were the priests of God. Worship of God is at the center of all life with God. So to find the Levites in the center of this long list is fitting beyond measure. Second, the tribe of Benjamin is listed, culminating in the genealogy of Saul, Israel’s first king. The Benjaminites were not a good tribe. Their sin was great throughout the Bible. As we will see, Saul the Benjaminite doesn’t put away his tribe's sin. He increases it. Only one can ultimately put away the sin of his people, and he did it through succeeding where the tribe of Benjamin and Saul failed. Jesus was faithful all his days, and his death atoned for the sins of his people. Worship of God was his center, and by his Spirit, he centers us in himself. Let’s worship today. It’s the only right response.
Day 97, 1 Chronicles 2-5: What can we make of a list of ancient names? Three things, at least. 1) No one is a nobody. We are all named under God and have a purpose and meaning. 2) God always had a plan, and it included real people in real history advancing his very real kingdom. 3) The list shows God’s plan, going from general to specific (from the world to Israel to Judah), culminating all history into a single focus on one man, Jesus. From Jesus it spreads out wide again, engulfing every nation, tribe, and tongue. The Bible is an hourglass, narrowing on Jesus; it flows to him and from him. He's the center, but we aren't just random names. If we flow through him, we flow through the focal point of it all. A list of names has meaning because Jesus gives them meaning.
Day 96, 2 Kings 24 - 1 Chronicles 1: Judah was exiled. The leaders were killed, kings were removed, the temple was burned. The tale of sin and rebellion came to a tragic end. But it was part of God’s plan. By tearing the kingdom down, he made it bigger. The name of the Lord went beyond Judah’s gates into the most powerful nation in the world. As we enter 1 Chronicles, we see a list of names. What do they mean? These names represent the movement of God across time and history in real lives. He's accomplishing a work bigger than any one person that will culminate in One Person. The plan of God moves swiftly and unceasingly toward fulfillment in Jesus, even if burned temple and torn nation fills the pages in the meantime.
Day 95, 2 Kings 20-23: Hezekiah grew ill and prayerless. So God sent Isaiah to deliver a message of death. God didn't plan to kill Hezekiah. He planned to make Hezekiah dependent upon him. Sometimes we need God to bring difficulty to awaken us to him. Hezekiah trusted God and was healed. Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son, rejected God and did what was evil in his sight. This isn't the whole story on Manasseh, but it's all we have for now. Gods hound of grace chased after him later on. Then came Josiah to repair the temple and rediscover the law of God. It's amazing it was ever lost, but it shows that every generation must rediscover God’s word for themselves. We cannot rest on the faith of our parents. We need a fresh awakening.
Day 94, 2 Kings 17-19: The northern kingdom of Israel was conquered. It was not an event outside God’s control but rather because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God (2 Kings 17:7). God uses the evil nations of the world as his pawns, accomplishing his will. His judgment is not final, however. A remnant remained. When life gets hard, two voices are calling out. One calls out from the world, the other from God. To whom will we listen? God’s word is strong, able to withstand the breath of this world. Isaiah calls on Judah to trust the Lord, and his call to us is the same. He can kill 185,000 men without our swords (2 Kings 19:35).
Day 93, 2 Kings 13-16: There were a few good kings and a lot of evil kings. The evil ones followed Jeroboam’s ways. The good ones followed God, but even they did not tear down the high places. Through it all, God oversaw and shepherded. He never left his people. ”For the LORD saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter, for there was none left, bond or free, and there was none to help Israel. But the LORD had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.” (2 Kings 14:26-27). God uses even the evil to advance his cause. He is sovereign over all. Even the cross became a place of worship instead of a place of death.
Day 92, 2 Kings 10-12: ”Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel” (2 Kings 10:28). The elimination of one idol only led to the cultivation of another. ”But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin--that is, the golden calves.” (2 Kings 10:29). Jehoash did the same. He repaired the temple but didn't remove all the high places as we know from the rest of the story. That the temple had fallen in disrepair shows the apathy they had toward God. We are all this way. We tear down idols on our vest days only to build new ones moments later. We leave the temple of our body in disrepair. We revere the Lord but refuse to let him have full control of our lives. We need a savior. We need One who will cleanse the temple of our heart and drive out all who don't belong there. Good news, friends: we have a savior who makes the whip himself and gets to work (John 2:15).
Day 91, 2 Kings 6-9: When the enemies of God’s people encircle, it is natural to feel fear. But we have a supernatural power inside. “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:16-17). God’s countless number of angelic army had been there all along. We have something greater than God’s angelic army. We have God himself in the person of the Holy Spirit living within. “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) You’re not alone. You have never been. God is with you now, and until the end of the age. The resurrection proved it.
Day 90, 2 Kings 3-5: Elisha performed miracles in Israel and beyond that remind us God has not abandoned his people. He steadfast loved remained. Elisha's miracles were shadows of the bigger miracle God was going to perform in Jesus Christ. The saving of the enemy, Namaan, pointed to the saving of many enemies of God in the gospel. No other God is like our God. No other God saves his enemies. No other God cares for his people. No other God raises the dead. No other God sent his son to die on our behalf. Our God alone is God. Rejoice and be glad in him!
Day 89, 1 Kings 21 - 2 Kings 2: Ahab was an evil man but he repented. Ahab is a great example that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. You cannot out sin the grace of God anymore than the sun can empty the oceans of water. The evaporating power of sin is nothing to the oceans of the grace of God. But will not be trifled with. He is the one true God and will not stand any competition, not because he is proud but because he is the *only* God. He alone can help. He alone should be sought. Evil Ahab sought him and was spared. Those after did not and weren't.
Day 88, 1 Kings 18-20: In Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal we see the test: Who is the real God? The answer is the God who is there, the God who acts. Why do we limp between the gods of this world and the one true God? Elijah was a bold prophet but his life wasn't easy. He ran from Jezebel and had an encounter with God that humbled and changed him. What we need is not only the bold Baal prophet victories but also personal encounters with the Lord at the deepest part of us. We stop limping between false gods and the true God when the true God teaches us to limp with him.
Day 87, 1 Kings 14-17: Jeroboam sinned and led his people to sin. It doesn't get much better from there. A downward spiral of sin and disobedience followed. God waited hundreds of years and dozens of bad kings before He brought judgment, always because of the faithfulness of one man long ago, David. God treats us with mercy on behalf of one man, too. Jesus’ perfect life is the reason we go on living. The mercy of God reigns in Christ. God didn't give up on his people. He sent prophets to show them the way. He won't give up on you either. Your Bible and your desire to read it today is proof. Jesus is proof.
Day 86, 1 Kings 11-13: Solomon’s wisdom didn’t keep him from sin. His disobedience to the law of kings as told in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 shows us wisdom helps us know how to live, but it isn’t a replacement for holiness and righteousness. Wisdom may say worshipping God alone is best, but it can’t make the heart worship. We need more than wisdom. We need grace and repentance and forgiveness. Solomon’s sin divides the kingdom, and Rehoboam shows us the sin is a wise man won’t be wise by default. He ignores wise counsel to project strength. True leadership isn’t brute force. It’s gentle wisdom. True leadership serves others, not self. True leadership also clings to the authoritative word of God. A better king is coming who will do that, Josiah by name. How did the prophet know Josiah would be born? God’s word came to him. To live well, we need only trust God’s word. And that the Word was made flesh and swept among us gives us only more reason to trust every single squiggly line of the Bible. God knows best. Wisdom follows.
Day 85, 1 Kings 7-10: Solomon builds the temple for the Lord and dedicates it with prayer, and the glory of the Lord fills the house of the Lord. Then the text details Solomon's wealth. Which most impresses you? Which do you long for most--the appearance of God or the riches of the world? Our heart wants everything of gold but out heart needs everything of God. Solomon will learn this and share it, so we don't have to learn the hard way.
Day 84, 1 Kings 4-6: The wealth and wisdom of Solomon spread far and wide. His proverbs made a difference in the world. His building if the temple established a new center of Judaism. Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba, was loved by God and God’s provision for him prepared us for the one who is greater than Solomon, with more wisdom and wealth than this world can hold.
Day 83, 2 Samuel 24 - 1 Kings 3: David dies, and the last we see of him is a great sin. It seems such a sad ending to his life, but it reminds us that the best of God’s people are still sinners. We need a better King. David’s family is a mess--no surprise since he had multiple wives. Solomon ascends to the throne, but it’s not an easy road. David doesn't even know the things his sons are doing. There is hope, however, that Solomon will rule well. His prayer for wisdom and God’s gift of wisdom give hope. Still, the wisdom of Solomon has limits. The wisdom of Jesus has none.
Day 82, 2 Samuel 21-23: David’s life wasn't easy. The sins of others and his own sin made life unbearable at times. Saul’s harassment of the Gibeonites required David to make it right. That couldn't have been easy. But David made his own life more difficult by his sin. His list of might men ends with Uriah the Hittite, a reminder of David’s sin against him by taking his wife and having him killed in battle. The song in the middle of his section shows us that despite all that sin and failure, David belonged to God, and God was faithful. Our sin has real consequences, and if written down like David’s, our story would also contain some gruesome parts. Yet God is faithful to us as well. Jesus paid for our sins just as he paid for David’s. ”This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless” (2 Samuel 23:33).
Day 81, 2 Samuel 17-20: The army of Absalom and the army of David go to battle and Absalom is killed. There is a lot of death in this section but only one is mourned, and that one is David’s son who has become his enemy. When David heard of his son’s death he cried "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (2 Samuel 18:33). When a righteous king rules, the death of even the wicked is not a cause for rejoicing. God does not rejoice in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). David’s heart is the heart of the King to come, who will mourn over death and who will seek and save the wicked by his grace.
Day 80, 2 Samuel 14-16: Absalom returned to Jerusalem and he ”stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (15:6). David’s weakness in reconciliation with Absalom over the injustice with his sister Tamar has become a rallying cry for Absalom to speak against his father, David. David was run out of the city. He returned to where he began: in the wilderness. Once again, he is open to God, and whatever seems good to God is what David will accept. David isn't Saul, though. God didn't reject him. David’s prayers have power. Though he's a sinner, God protects and provides. We know this to be true because of what Jesus did. He was driven into the wilderness as well, but not because of his sin but because of ours. The king suffered outside the camp. He endured the curses of men so we wouldn't suffer the curse of God.
Day 79, 2 Samuel 10-13: This is a particularly miserable section of scripture. David commits adultery. Amnon rapes his sister. Absalom kills his brother. The Bible doesn't sugar-coat anything. God gives us the ugliest parts of his people’s lives. David is a good king, but he is not perfect. He's a bad friend to Uriah. He's a bad father to Tamar. He's a coward with Amnon and Absalom. We can't put our hope in David or rulers like him. Jesus is the true and better David, succeeding where David failed. He was tempted in every way but without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He never mistreated a woman. He laid down his life for his friends. He wasn't cowardly with those who abused their power. David failed in every area but one: he repented. God forgave him of his sin and through the Son to come, made payment for David's sins on the cross. David had an alien righteousness. He needed it. So do we. In Christ, we can have it. We all have a past of shame and regret and sin. Repentance is the way from there to God.
Day 78, 2 Samuel 7-9: David wanted to build God a house. Instead, God builds David a house. 2 Samuel 7 is one of the most important chapters in the storyline of the Bible. God’s covenant with David solidifies his lineage as the one through whom the King would come. Davids response to such grace was worship. Worship is the right response to every work of God. May our heart be awed by the work God accomplished for us in Christ--a much greater work than God did for David. Let's worship today.
Day 77, 2 Samuel 3-6: David knew that God redeemed his life out of every adversity (2 Samuel 4:9). When your idea of God is like that, you don't take matters into your own hand. God will bring justice, if not in this life then in the next. That doesn't mean you don't fight for others. Remember, this is the same David who fought Goliath on behalf of Israel. It just means you trust God with your life. He will set everything right in the end. A right view of God must also include his holiness. Bringing the ark to Jerusalem shows the seriousness of God’s instructions. The ark must be carried on poles, not toted on a cart. It cannot be touched with hands. God will not bend his rules for anyone, not even for David. God’s holiness and goodness go together. We wouldn't want them separate.
Day 76, 1 Samuel 31- 2 Samuel 2: David waited a long time to assume the throne. Saul’s death was the only pathway. He had many chances to take it by force, but he wouldn't do it. Even after Saul died, David mourned. He didn't delight in the death of anyone, including those who wanted to harm him. Waiting on God is hard, but David shows us that when we do it, God works deeply in our heart during the waiting. Everything worth anything is worth waiting on God for.
Day 75, 1 Samuel 27-30: It's a dark section of scripture. Until chapter 30, David doesn't seek the Lord much, and Saul visits a medium to bring Samuel up from the dead for advice. This section is a good reminder that even mighty David is a sinner. In spite of his saving his people, he needs a savior himself. No man but Jesus is the perfect model.
Day 74, 1 Samuel 24-26: The Bible defines faith as ”the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). David knew he was the future king of Israel, but he didn't yet have the throne. The current king was chasing him, hoping to kill him. When Saul reached David’s cave, not knowing David was there, David could have killed Saul and don't. Later, when David comes into Saul’s camp at night, he has another chance to kill him and doesn't. Why? David had assurance of the kingship he hoped for. He was convinced of the thing he couldn't yet see. David’s heart was open to God. If God’s plan had changed, that was fine with him, but unless he knew it had changed, he would wait on God’s timing. Faith does that. Faith waits. It holds on a little bit longer while God works his plan in his time.
Day 73, 1 Samuel 20-23: David flees Saul. Saul's heart is hard toward God. His paranoia rages. Saul knows the kingdom isn't his and what he reluctantly took years ago he now can't give up. David isn't a relief for Saul; he's a threat. When God’s people become a threat to us, we know God himself has become a threat to us. David is the opposite. God is his friend, and in return, God gives David friends as he flees. David’s humility was attractive. ”Everyone who was in distress and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul gathered to him. And he became commander over them.” (22:2). David was a type of the leader to come. Jesus humbled himself like David, and the outcasts fled to him for refuge. When Jesus becomes commander over us, no matter where we are, we find that we've finally come home.
Day 72, 1 Samuel 17-19: Faith is the ability to look through the outward appearance to God’s purposes standing behind. David had the eyes of faith as he stood before Goliath. He saw not the terrifying warrior but the mighty salvation of God. The salvation David brought to Israel is a type of the salvation Jesus brought to us. The great enemy has been slain as we stood by and watched. God fought for us when we were terrified and helpless. Should we be like David and conquer the giants in our life? Sure. Go ahead. But the giant of sin living within is not one you can kill. Only God can do that. And God has. His victory becomes our victory. He didn't do it for his sake. He did it for you. Let no man’s heart fail. Our servant, Jesus, fought for us.
Day 71, 1 Samuel 13-16: Saul seems a man unfit for his role. Unfit and unwilling. He does the minimum required and takes as many shortcuts as he needs. His eye is on the peoples’ view of him as he perceives it rather than on God’s word as he has revealed it. Samuel is put out. The people can't follow him. His own son is in peril because of him. In time, Saul proves to be the perfect representation of Israel: disobedient, impulsive, tragic. So when God rejects him as king and replaces him with David, we all feel relief. David has a Godward heart. Saul may look the part, but he fails. David may not look the part, but he will succeed. In the same way, Jesus had no form that man should look at him but he rules in perfect righteousness. The glory of his holiness is beautiful in the sight of God and his people.
Day 70, 1 Samuel 10-12: Saul’s sudden change when God’s Spirit came upon him baffled those who knew him. His heart was not previously Godward. Even after, he struggled to be Godward. He hid from his calling. Samuel warned Israel of their sin by asking for a king, but they did it anyway. When Samuel’s time as judge ended, he called Israel to repentance, and they repented. God will not forsake them. Though they turn away, God loved them still. I recently saw a quote saying what we will receive in the future is determined by what we've done with the things we've already received. I understand the wisdom of that, but the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. And his foolishness sent Jesus to a people who didn't deserve his reception. He sent him to us who clamor for an earthly king and turn away the true One. He gives what we don't deserve. By grace, our future is not dependent on what we've done thus far but on what God grants us the ability to do with the gift of Christ right now. Your future five minutes from now or fifty years from now is based on God’s grace. Repent, the King has come, the King is here, and the King is coming again. He's not an earthly one--that's what we deserve, not what God gives.
Day 69, 1 Samuel 6-9: Samuel judges Israel well, but they don't want another judge after him. They want a king that they ”may be like all the nations.” Israel wasn't supposed to be like other nations, though. The other nations were the problem. In calling for a king in this way, they're rejecting God’s care and asking for earthly care. Samuel warns them of what will come, but they don't listen. Why are we so slow to heed godly advice? Saul is then chosen as king for all the wrong reasons. He is kingly in appearance, but that is all. He's the kind of king we always choose in this world. But David is coming to give a foretaste of the King yet to come. God wants his people to have a king but only the right kind of king. The one he gives is not the one we deserve. We want Saul. God gives Jesus.
Day 68, 1 Samuel 3-5: The glory has departed from Israel: the most tragic event imaginable. It is God’s glory that makes God’s people unique. Without him, they are like every other people in the world. With him, they are set apart, made holy by his presence. The glory did not depart long. God will dwell with *his* people, not just any people. Without their trying, Israel gets him back because he cannot forsake his people. If that was true in ancient Israel, how much more is it so today? Jesus came down to dwell with his people. The glory came down! And on the cross, when the glory departed from Israel once again, the resurrection brought him back, this time to send the Holy Spirit to indwell God’s people. If you're his today, you can lose no battle that can strip him from you. Jesus lost the ultimate battle voluntarily so you would never have to. You can't lose him now.
Day 67, Ruth 3-1 Samuel 2: The book of Ruth is a love story, but not primarily between Ruth and Boaz. It is a story of God’s love for Ruth, bringing the outsider in, granting her faith, and giving her a redeemer. How surprised must she have been to realize that not only did God provide a redeemer for her, but through her, he ultimately provided a Redeemer for the world? When we reach 1 Samuel, we see two kinds of people: those who know the Lord and those who don't. Those who do know him go to the Lord with need. Those who don't know him have no need of him but abuse his alter instead. Those who know him are humble. Those who don't are proud. Beware which you are. Apparently, priests can be some of the worst.
Day 66, Judges 21-Ruth 2: ”In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” These words are not an indication of freedom but of slavery to personal wants and desires. Doing what is right in our eyes never turns out for our good. We need a King on High to lead us. When will he come? Enter Ruth. We see the heart of this future King in this short story. Ruth clings to Naomi, worshiping her God despite the direction it means for her life. Her faithfulness is a type of the faithfulness of Jesus. Boaz protects and cares for Ruth, a type of the goodness of Jesus. From this family-to-be will come the King Israel needs. The time of the Judges is ending. We're getting closer to the real thing.
Day 65, Judges 17-20: There are some strange stories in Judges. They're a call to ”consider it, take counsel, and speak” (19:30). Throughout these chapters, we hear the refrain ”there was no king in Israel in those days.” No leadership leads to everyone doing what's right in their own eyes, and that's why so much heartache exists in these chapters. The idolatry around Israel has come inside Israel. Their pursuit of private, personal religion over public, communal religion destroys them. They forsake God for gods and devour one another as a result. When we abandon God, we turn ugly. Our internal moral compass is never pointing due north. That's why we need a new heart, one cleansed by the outward righteousness of Jesus that we may have the inward righteousness of the Spirit.
Day 64, Judges 14-16: Samson’s Nazarite vow should keep him clean, but he breaks every regulation. He is the strong leader Israel needs but not the moral leader for whom they long. He is impulsive, selfish, and toys with God’s gift of his strength. On his best days, however, he does save Israel from their enemies. Ultimately, it is the empowering of the Spirit of the Lord the sets Samson apart, and in the end, in the most selfless act of his life, he takes out Israel's enemy through his death. Samson was a type of Christ, laying down his life for his people, disarming their enemy, and bringing salvation. What Samson did with brute strength, Jesus did through humility. The laws and regulations Samson broke, Jesus obeyed to the full. God made Samson into something great. Jesus made himself into something small. Two ways of working salvation, but the road less traveled has the greater impact.
Day 63, Judges 10-13: Israel continues to leave and forsake the God who never leaves nor forsakes them. They worship the foreign gods of the foreign people and become oppressed by them for their sin. But they repent, ”we have sinned” (10:10), and God sends a savior. Jephthah is rejected by his family then sought to save them. He was rejected and despised, but he was useful to them when their life was on the line. Jephthah is not perfect, as his vow shows. He should have repented of the foolish vow, not go through with it. His failure to understand right sacrifice creates a deeper longing for one who can make the perfect sacrifice, through the perfect vow, and who will have no regrets
Day 62, Judges 7-9: Gideon becomes the mighty man of valor God called him. He leads Israel in battle but he can't take too many lest his God-given courage turn to pride. His army is whittled to 300 men. It's not Gideon’s strength or the strength of Israel that will win the battle. It is God who fights for them. We want to fight our own battles, don't we? We don't have to. Jesus fought the battle for us. He endured when it was hardest, ”exhausted yet pursuing” (Judges 8:4). We must do hard things, but God is with us in them, giving us the strength to endure as we look to him. We must be careful not to go our own way, not to worship other gods. We can so easily make a mess of our life, but Jesus is a redeemer. He can make your mess into a miracle. Follow him.
Day 61, Judges 3-6: God provides leaders for his people. Many are imperfect, but God uses them. Gideon is a clear example. He is a coward whom God calls a ”mighty man of valor.” It is not who we are but who God makes us that determines our future. For the Christian, our future is as bright as Jesus’. Gideon wondered if God really wanted to use him. He asked for three confirmations. Doubt sits heavy on some of us, but God has called us to himself and has promised to be with us. By grace, you are--whether you feel like it or not--mighty in the Lord because God is mightily inside of you by his Spirit.
Day 60, Joshua 22-Judges 2: As we end Joshua, Joshua charges Israel to keep covenant with God. ”Choose this day whom you will serve.”They vow to serve the Lord, but Joshua knows they won't. That doesn't mean God won't keep his part of the deal, and even though the covenant curses shall befall Israel, God will restore them. They will suffer due to their sin, but God will show mercy. As we enter Judges, we see God brought Israel from promise to fulfillment, from slavery to the Promised Land. But Israel still needs a savior. Joshua was only in part what they need. He led them in battle against earthly foes, but they need someone to fight the internal battle of the heart. He was to come, but first, we must see the rise and fall of the judges, creating the longing for the perfect Judge, Jesus.
Day 59, Joshua 17-21: [This plan has a reading for Feb. 29. Since this is not a leap year, we will split the day in two, half today, half tomorrow.] the allotment of the land continues. Zelophehad has no sons, so his daughters request his share of the land, and Joshua gives it to them, as the Lord commanded Moses to do in Numbers 27. After everyone has their share of the land, cities of refuge are established because God cares about justice. Anyone needing a fair trial has a chance in a city of refuge. God cares about all, oversees all, and is sovereign over all. “Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” (Joshua 21:45)
Day 58, Joshua 13-16: The Promised Land is allotted to the tribes of Israel. They're home after over 400 years away. ”And the land had rest from war” (14:15). There is one problem, however. The Israelites did not drive out the Gershurites or the Maacathites. This will prove to be a problem. It shows us that if one small presence of sin still resides, the whole is infected. The rest that could have been will not be because problems are living within. Israel needs more than a clean land. They need a clean heart. The one way to receive that is through the One whose heart was never dirtied. And for him, they'll have to wait a little longer.
Day 57, Joshua 10-12: The Lord continues to fight for his people. In the battle with five kings of the Amorites, God throws stones from heaven and makes the sun stand still to give Israel total victory. These miraculous signs prove God’s hand in it all and his faithfulness to his people. By the end of chapter 12, we see that Joshua and Israel have defeated 31 kings. God is keeping his promises. We can’t help but notice, however, that these conquests are not the final answer for Israel. If they were, the story would end. Israel is still sinful and still in need of a Savior. Just as Joshua led them in battle against those who sinned against God, they (and we) need another Joshua to fight our battles—to slay the sin within. By becoming the true and better Israel, Jesus accomplishes this work for us, but instead of killing in judgment, he became the one judged so that we could become the forgiven ones.
Day 56, Joshua 6-9: Jericho falls. It is not through the might of Israel but the presence of the Lord manifest in the presence of the ark of the covenant that wins the battle. God fights for his people. Israel destroys everything and everyone except Rahab and her family because ”the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction” (6:17). They move on to Ai but are defeated due to Achan’s sin. Everything was to be devoted to destruction, and because Achan took some of those devoted things, he too had to be destroyed. Joshua then renews the covenant as Moses commanded and the people are reminded that God is faithful despite their sin. He still provides. Today it is no different. God still cares for his children. He still makes the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope (Hosea 3:15).
Day 55, Joshua 3-5: Joshua leads Israel to the Promised Land, which God prepared for them. They eat of the produce of the land (5:12), transforming hope into reality. God renews his covenant with his people, and they celebrate before him. The battle looms large. They're in the land, but Jericho stands before them, strong and sturdy. Joshua must feel overwhelmed. So God shows up. ”Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” Joshua has asked the wrong question. ”No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord.” This heavenly figure came to take charge. Joshua gains clarity as he falls on his face. Apparently, the preparation needed to overtake Jericho was a worship experience. What are you facing? Follow Joshua. Fall down before God, take off your sandals, this is holy ground.
Day 54, Deuteronomy 33-Joshua 2: Deuteronomy ends on the edge of the Promised Land, and as we look back to how far we've come, the words of 33:27 seem fitting. ”The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” God has been with his people, and he will be with them. As we enter to book of Joshua, Israel is poised to take the Promised Land, and we meet Rahab who helps the two spies sent to scout the land. Her actions on behalf of God’s people saves her in the end, and she's listed in the great Hall of Faith chapter of Hebrews 11, the only Gentile listed there. God’s salvation goes out beyond Israel. He saves many, especially the unlikely.
Day 53, Deuteronomy 30-32: ”The LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6). Circumcision is the mark of God’s people. But it alone is not enough. Inner transformation is required. How can that happen? By God’s grace. As we open up to him in repentance, he floods our heart with grace and marks us as his own. Only then can we begin to obey, because the heart is finally right. Isn't it wonderful that though we are responsible to obey, God grants obedience by his Spirit. He does what we can't do so that we can have what he wants to give. Jesus showed us this most of all as his perfect life achieved what we could not and granted us the righteousness we need to stand before God (Romans 8:3-4).
Day 52, Deuteronomy 26-29: God’s warning of curse is stark and discouraging. Humanity is not an obedient group, not even God’s chosen people. Israel failed. We fail. And the curses are our wages (Romans 6:23). But there are also blessings, and those are ours by faith (Galatians 3:13-14). How do we get them? We ask for them. In Christ, God grants them to us. This is possible only because Jesus took our curses and gave us his blessings. He dreaded the night and the morning even more, but he took up his cross and obeyed God’s will. Because he did that, our cross is easier to bear, our load is lighter to carry, our blessing is greater by far. Why would he do that for *us*? ”The secret things belong to the LORD our God.” But this isn't a secret, is it? No. He's done this for us because he loves us (John 3:16).
Day 51, Deuteronomy 23-25: ”But the Lord you God would not listen to Balaam; instead the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.” (23:5). So much stands against us. But the Lord our God doesn't listen to our enemies because he is our friend. The Chrsitian experience summed up is ”because the Lord your God loves you.” He turns the greatest curse into the biggest blessing. ”What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)
Day 50, Deuteronomy 19-22: God limits the sins of his people through the giving of his law. Without God’s word, we do foolish things like cut down all the trees in the new land he's brought us to. Israel did not plant those trees (6:11). They were their inheritance. But the pinnacle of this section is seen in 20:22-23 because there we are told something that makes sense only in light of the death of Christ. A man hanged on a tree should be brought down that day, for a hanged man is cursed by God, and the land should not be cursed. Jesus died on a tree, but his body was taken down on the same day (Mark 15:43). Why was Jesus cursed? It wasn't for his sins. It was for ours. He got what we deserved, and we get what he deserves. God’s word about laws of the Promised Land helps us see the wonder of the cross. The Bible is amazing.
Day 49, Deuteronomy 16-18: A priest should stand as a judge and minister before the Lord on behalf of the people (17:8-13). A king of Israel should not have an excess of earthly resources that would draw his dependence away from God (17:14-20). A prophet should speak only God’s word (18:15-22). But only one man combined them all perfectly: the prophet whom God raised like Moses (18:15), the priest who judged rightly before God, the king who made himself poor that we might be rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus alone is the fulfillment of these chapters.
Day 48, Deuteronomy 12-15: God takes his worship seriously. Why? God is the only true God. All others are imposters. To give his people the greatest good, he must give them himself, which he did. In response, he asked for love and faithfulness. God brought his people out of slavery. Why would they go back in through the worship of other gods? Why do we seek other options when the Lord gives us himself? Jesus came to live, die, and rise again to claim our heart. Why would we want to add to or diminish his sufficient work? Let's not listen to other prophets or dreamers. Let's stick with the Word of God, the only true guide.
Day 47, Deuteronomy 9-11: Israel’s favor from God is a result of God’s grace, not their obedience. Love from God is the ground for all good in them and for every call to obedience to them. God’s grace always comes first in our relationship to him. Experiencing the love of God toward us is the fountain of our love for him. We merely respond to God. We don't work to earn him. He gives himself freely to us. There are blessings and curses (11:26-32), but now that Jesus has come as the second Adam and second Israel, to obey perfectly on our behalf, we now have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). He received our curses of disobedience, and we received his blessings for obedience. The great exchange indeed.
Day 46, Deuteronomy 5-8: Obedience to God flows from what God has already done for us. He redeems then gives the law. We get the order wrong all the time, thinking God’s love for us is dependent on what we do. But why does God choose Israel? ”It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (7:7-8). In the same way, we are chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Everything flows from God’s love: all our love for him, our love for our neighbor, and all obedience in everything. He remembers us, and he asks us to remember him. But we struggle sometimes, don't we? We say, ”My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth” (8:17). It is not we who are faithful; it is God. Good thing our salvation is based on his goodness, not ours. He chose us not because of how good we were but because of how good he is. ”Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” (7:9)
Day 45, Deuteronomy 2-4: Moses recounts the wilderness years when God was with them, and they lacked nothing (2:7), and he prepared the Promised Land for them by putting fear and dread in the people living there (2:25). God’s work for our good is often hidden, maybe even in faraway lands. Our part in God’s story rests on what God does on our behalf--”It is the Lord your God who fights for you.” Therefore, we should listen to and obey God’s word, because he alone has wisdom for life. “The Lord is God; there is no other besides him” (4:35). “The Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other” (4:39).
Day 44, Numbers 34-Deuteronomy 1: God speaks, and to the Christian, this is very good news. Some truths are too deep to be discovered, they must be revealed. God reveals himself through words. So it is no surprise to find Deuteronomy open with Moses speaking to the people. He will do this throughout the book, reminding us all of the ultimate Word of God, Jesus. So much of the Christian life is comprised of listening to God’s word. As we begin our final descent from the Pentateuch, let's open our ears to hear from Moses one last time.
Day 43, Numbers 31-33: Israel’s battle with the Midianites foreshadow the battles to come. The fact that not a man of Israel was lost in the battle (31:49) is proof of God’s care. The recounting of the journey in chapter 33 is a reminder of God’s shepherding. Moses reminds the people of the places they were protected, embolden, fed, watered, rebuked, instructed, and forgiven. God works in the real places of our lives. What are the markers in your life? What is your story of God’s faithfulness?
Day 42, Numbers 27-30: Nearing the end of his life, Moses said to the Lord, ”Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd." So God gave Joshua. God always provides leadership for his people. But no leader as is true as the One who looked over the crowds with compassion because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). Jesus is the leader Moses was really asking for. He's the leader we’re all really asking for.
Day 41, Numbers 24-26: Balaam, under the influence of the Spirit, sees Israel as they really are (24:3-9). Beyond the outward roughness, they are God’s people, well provided for, mighty, blessed. All in Christ are the same. We may look sick but are healthy, may be poor but are rich, may be oppressed but are free. Balaam sees the Messiah to come rising out of Jacob (24:17-19). He will accomplish what has begun in this desert. But there is still sin in the camp. The zeal of Phinehas turned God’s wrath away. How? He was jealous with God’s jealousy (25:11). When we care about God’s glory, we minister to our brothers and sisters. When we are on the Lord’s side, he is on our side.
Day 40, Numbers 20-23: Israel quarrels again with God. They cannot seem to understand that he’ll provide for them at all times. Moses grows angry and strikes the rock instead of speaking to it. Paul says the rock represents Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). As the water flowed from the rock even as Israel and their leaders disbelieved God, so too do rivers of living water flow from Christ to cover our sins. Israel complains again, and serpents are sent into the camp to bite them. A bronze serpent is constructed and raised on a pole. Everyone who looks upon it will be saved. Do you see how little we contribute to our salvation and how much we deserve condemnation? We are no better than Israel, yet Jesus was lifted up on the cross, and by beholding him there, we are saved.
Day 39, Numbers 17-19: “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” (Hebrews 5:1). Aaron's staff alone budded. God had appointed him as priest. There was no other way Israel could approach God except through the priest. This finally solidified that truth in their minds. Aaron's staff was thereafter kept inside the ark of the covenant as a perpetual reminder that the way to God is through God's appointed way, through the priesthood. "No one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you'; as he says also in another place, 'You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.'" (Hebrews 5:4-6)
Day 38, Numbers 13-16: Israel stands on the edge of the Promised Land. The spies go in and only two come back with trust in the Lord. The rest fear the giants in the land and Israel follows their lead. They had an evil, unbelieving heart leading them to fall away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12). They could have entered the rest of God, but they refused. Let us not refuse to enter his rest today. Let's not fear the giants in the land when we have the Lord on our side. Let's not grow weary of God's ways nor of God's appointed leaders nor of God himself. The true rest God provides wasn't in the Promised Land. It wasn't in David's kingdom. It wasn't even in Jesus' earthly ministry. It's still ahead of us, the moment when we see him face to face. "Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience." (Hebrews 4:11). What is our hope of standing strong? Our High Priest, Jesus. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Day 37, Numbers 10-12: Israel leaves Sinai. Then they complain about the miraculous bread God gives from heaven. They want meat. They get their meat but also a plague. They had no gratitude for what God had provided. How often are we the same! Moses longs for all God's people to have his Spirit so that they may have understanding. One day that becomes true after another mediator better than Moses comes to intercede on our behalf. Jesus was not a leader who only spoke to God mouth to mouth, he was God's very word made flesh. In Jesus, we don't merely behold the form of the Lord. We behold the Lord himself.
Day 36, Numbers 6-9: Aaron's blessing in 6:24-26 is one of the great passages of the Bible. "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." God's blessing is far greater than we can imagine. Paul says we have every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Jesus provides for all we need. He gives what we need to worship him. His face shines upon us. He himself is our peace. He cleansed us once for all and his presence with us by his Spirit leads us out of every spiritual slavery, through the wilderness of sin, and into the promised land of heaven.
Day 35, Numbers 3-5: The Levites are God's servants on the earth, performing priestly duties. They inherit no land because the Lord is their inheritance (Numbers 18:20). Jesus also inherited no land in his earthly ministry. The Lord was his inheritance, and because he was the perfect priest who gave himself up for us, imputing his righteousness to us and taking our guilt on himself, he made us into a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). God has become our inheritance. We serve him now in his presence, receiving all we need from him, having become a people for his own possession. We carry out the visible signs of God's work and presence in the world. So, go forth, priest, and minister to everyone around you, bringing them into the presence of God through the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Day 34, Leviticus 26-Numbers 2: If Leviticus shows us anything it shows that God is holy and he wants his people to be holy. His covenant is full of both blessings and curses, as every ancient near eastern covenant was. But it's clear God wants to bless his people. He expects them to keep their vow to him as he's kept his to them. But of course, they won't because they can't. That's the tragedy of sin. Our best efforts can't keep us holy. We need another source. If God's blessing is to come in fullness, we need a new kind of obedience. That's why what Jesus did in his perfect life (his active obedience) is good news. In his death on the cross as our substitute (his passive obedience), God imputed all Christ's righteousness to us, making us forever holy and granting us every blessing in Him. We can now look at the blessings of God's covenant and receive them as ours by faith in Jesus, and we can see the curses Jesus received on our behalf on the cross. And we can rejoice in the merciful and gracious work of Christ. In his resurrection, he instituted a new covenant--one in which he will remember sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34). As we move into the book of Numbers, we see that God isn't done with his people. He's going to lead them in triumphant victory as he does now for those in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14).
Day 33, Leviticus 23-25: Every feast was a reminder of what God had done for his people. From creation to redemption, God is reigning and ruling, caring and guiding, proving steadfast and faithful, merciful and gracious. The jubilee year makes no sense in the wilderness where they are. Who has land in the desert to plant and raise crops? God's gift of the Promised Land is still to come, and when they arrive, they are not to forget their dependence on him. How will they survive the jubilee year without raising crops the seventh year? He will provide three years' worth in the sixth year. He will provide food where there is no food, redemption where there is slavery, freedom where there is debt. In Jesus, we see this to the ultimate degree. He provides and releases and forgives to the utmost.
Day 32, Leviticus 19-22: We must be holy because God is holy. Jesus didn't change that. He said, "You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Jesus upheld that we should love God and love our neighbor. Throughout this section, we hear the phrase "I am the Lord." God is reminding his people that he's the one who redeemed them. Their obedience is not a way to him; it's a response to his saving grace. Ours is the same. Our perfection comes from him, and our life should be lived openly before him. Jesus lived his life openly to us--so open that he gave it up for us, taking our unholiness on himself and giving us his holiness as a free gift of grace. "I am the Lord" isn't a threat. It's another way of saying "I'm yours. I love you."
Day 31, Leviticus 16-18: The sacrificial system moved sinners closer to God by washing their sins away in the blood of bulls and goats. But the blood of bulls and goats isn't sufficient to cleanse for all time. The Day of Atonement presented a problem more than it provided a solution: how can a sinner remain forgiven by God? Jesus gave us the answer in his death. "He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God." - Hebrews 9:12-14
Day 30, Leviticus 12-15: Lots of law about clean and unclean bodies, from leprous diseases to bodily discharges. It's not a pretty section to read. The uncleanness is serious because God is pure and impure people must be made pure to live with him. So while we may look at this as a strange section with far too much detail, let's see it instead as an amazing provision of God's grace addressing the issues so that his people may be as near as possible to him. And of course, let's not forget that God is not a God who pushes the unclean away forever. How do they become clean at all if it's not the Lord who does his work in them to purify? We see this most vividly in Mark 1:40-42. Jesus meets a leper, and though the law of Leviticus said a man who touches a leprous man would also become unclean, Jesus reaches out his hand and touches him. Jesus does not become unclean. The leprous man becomes clean. We see a similar act in Luke 17:11-19 where Jesus heals ten lepers but only one returns to him after he sees he's healed. What does he do? He falls down and worships. So Leviticus 12-15 must there be to lead us to worship.
Day 29, Leviticus 9-11: The priests have a high standard. Faithfulness matters. Offering unauthorized fire before the Lord brings death. Serving the Lord is not done out of our strength or by our own rules. It is done under his careful instruction. Why? Because his holiness is seen in such things. The unfaithful priests we see at the beginning of chapter 10 contrasted with the faithful priests later in the episode remind us of the most faithful priest, Jesus. His humble faithfulness accomplished the priestly work of reconciling us to God. He wasn't killed for offering unauthorized offerings but by becoming the offering himself. God poured his wrath out on him, not due to his sins but all the sins of his people whom he came to save. His faithfulness in obeying the law on our behalf, as our substitute, was sufficient enough to reconcile us to God and even to erase the rules of clean vs. unclean food. God gave the apostle Peter a vision many years later telling him to rise, kill, and eat all kinds of animals listed in Leviticus 11. "What God has made clean, do not call common" (Acts 10:15). The strict law of Leviticus was a placeholder until Christ could make everything clean again. And when he did, freedom flooded God's people.
Day 28, Leviticus 5-8: Chapter 5 shows God’s provision of forgiveness for the unintentional sins of his people. If they felt guilty, there was a sacrifice to take away the guilt. God cares about how we feel before him, and his overwhelming desire is for us to feel forgiven. Chapters 6-7 shows God's care for his appointed priests. They are to be provided for out of the offerings made to him. Serving the Lord requires constant nourishment, and he provides it through his people. Chapter 8 shows the ordination of the priests. Our sin makes the priesthood necessary. We cannot approach the Holy God apart from purification. The priests aren't set apart for their personal holiness. They're as sinful as everyone else. God makes them pure through sacrifice. One day a priest would come that needed no sacrifice of personal cleansing before making a cleansing sacrifice for his people. Jesus was the perfect priest we always needed, wholly sufficient in himself to cleanse us once for all.
Day 27, Leviticus 2-4: Leviticus is perhaps the hardest book of the Bible to read. The specific law, with the sacrifices and instructions, is hard to get through. But as we march on with the Lord, let's see two things. First, the Lord is holy and has made his dwelling place with his people. Second, his people are sinful, but their new neighbor isn't. Your neighborhood Facebook page has nothing on the tension of this wilderness collection. However, God so loves his people that though they defile themselves and his dwelling place with their sin, he provides a way to be clean again in the sacrifices. His mercy extends to the most significant extent, not in the slaughter of bulls and goats, but in his Son, slain for our purification.
Day 26, Exodus 38-Leviticus 1: The tabernacle is finished. Moses and Israel did all that God commanded in its construction. Then the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. God came down to live with them. But what God did in a cloud and by fire back then he did in human form in the incarnation of Jesus who tabernacle among us (John 1:14).
Day 25, Exodus 35-37: The instructions for the tabernacle are given to Moses. What is the purpose? To build a dwelling place for God in their midst. Moses built it according to God’s command. “He was faithful in God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” (Hebrews 3:5-6). The tabernacle was not a random assortment of golden trinkets. It was a copy of the heavenly reality where God welcomes sinners into his holy presence. It was pointing us to the priestly ministry of Jesus.
Day 24, Exodus 31-34: Israel makes a golden calf and bows down to worship it. Our idolatry runs so deep that even God in our midst isn’t enough to remove it apart from his activating grace. They receive their punishment of golden juice and Moses’s intercession saves them from further destruction. On the heels of such blasphemy comes a revealing of the glory of God. On Mt. Sinai in one of the great prayers of the Bible, Moses asks to see God’s glory. And God says yes. He’s not the hold out. We are.
Day 23, Exodus 28-30: God instructs Aaron and his sons to be priests. The gift of the priesthood means God is providing a way for his people to come near to himself. He asks the priests to wear garments that match the tabernacle. They must go through certain rituals to ready themselves for the sacrifices. And when all is prepared, the priests sacrifice a lamb and God meets with his people and sanctifies them by his glory (29:43). All these meticulous details funnel down to the glorious reality of 29:45-46. “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God,” Our Great High Priest has the same but more complete effect. Through Jesus’ blood, we enter the presence of God. He dwells with us by his Spirit until that day when we live with him bodily forever.
Day 22, Exodus 24-27: God confirms his covenant with his people. The elders of Israel saw God and ate and drank before him. God longs to live with his people, so he instructs Moses to make a tabernacle for him. The details aren’t superfluous. They matter to God. Beauty matters to him. But our forgiveness matters more, and that’s why the tabernacle is constructed as it is. It highlights mercy from the Holy God.
Day 21, Exodus 21-23: God’s law isn’t easy to read. It feels so foreign to us. There is so much detail, so many stipulations. But God doesn’t give the law to bind us but to free us. If we never see how much grace we need, we will never look for a Savior. If we believe we’re good, we will never see the ugliness of sin. If we never place ourselves under the Lord’s rule, we will never find the peace we need. God’s law may be hard to read but if we forget the righteous requirement Jesus’ life will be less beautiful to us. When we see the demand of the law, we are ready to see the provision of God in Christ.
Day 20, Exodus 17-20: The Israelites complain about being thirsty. So God brings water from a rock. They go into battle and Moses intervenes for them with raised hands, and God brings victory. They have so many disputes that every problem is brought to Moses. So God brings many wise men to help Moses bear the burden. They need help in how to live so God brings them to Sinai and gives Moses the law. The Ten Commandments begin with grace, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Everything in Israel’s life has been surrounded by grace: water when they complain, victory when they’re weak, wise judges when they’re in need, righteous law when they’re wayward. If grace surrounded God’s people then, how much more does it surround us now that Christ has come and accomplished his work! God’s grace doesn’t run out. There’s enough for today and more for tomorrow. Go ahead and draw as much as you need. He’s a patient God.
Day 19, Exodus 14-16: God displays his power in the crossing of the Red Sea. With God in control, his people have so little to fear. “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord…the Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent” (14:13-14). Our best attempt is nothing compared to the work of God. Why do we try to do what only he can? God can accomplish in one minute what we could never in a thousand years. What if today—just today—we trusted the Lord enough to watch his work in the world? Would we not respond with singing like Moses in Exodus 15?
Day 18, Exodus 10-13: God brings Israel out of slavery in Egypt. It’s the death of the firstborn that finally breaks Pharaoh’s heart. After ten plagues, it’s not until what Pharaoh loves is taken away that he will free Israel. The Israelites were safe in God’s care. The blood of a lamb marked them out as God’s people. They did not lose anyone. As God was with Moses in the burning bush, so now he was with Israel in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. He was their God, and they were his people—free from slavery to worship the Lord. He’s with us now too because another spotless lamb was slain, and by his blood we are set free.
Day 17, Exodus 7-9: Pharaoh won’t listen to God. The plagues up to this point don’t persuade him. His heart is hardened. Even dumb Pharaoh has a purpose in God’s plan. As Pharaoh hardens his heart, God says, “for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (9:16). Denying God’s greatness doesn’t reduce him. It magnifies him as he proves to the world how great he truly is.
Day 16, Exodus 3-6: God calls Moses to go to Egypt and free his people. Moses doesn’t like the call. He’s not eloquent. He’s afraid. Their relationship doesn’t get off to a good start. But God doesn’t expect Moses to be eloquent. He made him who he is. That doesn’t, however, remove the call on his life. God will use what he has made, weaknesses and all, for his glory. Moses has no right to say to God, “You made me too weak.” Do we say the same to him today? Are we scared of our weakness or are we trusting his strength?
Day 15, Genesis 50-Exodus 2: We’ve reached the end of one book and the start of another. This time, the book doesn’t start in a garden but in slavery. “During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.”
Day 14, Genesis 46-49: Joseph brings his family to Egypt. Jacob sees his son for the first time in many years, receiving back he whom he thought was dead. One day, all who believe in Christ will have similar reunions. Then we will be with the Lord himself, who brought us to life out of actual death and reconciled us to himself, and the reunion will have no tinge of loss—only joy forevermore. Christ is the true and better Joseph putting the family back together, bringing us into the land of plenty, not taking revenge but extending mercy.
Day 13, Genesis 43-45: Joseph meets his brothers for the first time in a long time. How would you feel about family who betrayed you and sold you into slavery? Would you long for them to be with you as Joseph did? Who can effect such change in the heart? It’s a forgiveness not of this world—a gift from God above.
Day 12, Genesis 39-42: Joseph rises, falls, and rises again in Egypt. In his life, he never speaks to God as his fathers have, with direct, audible revelation. But he’s still just as close to God. He was accused of a crime he did not commit and thrown in jail. He was never vindicated in his life. Even after his rise again, the accusation wasn’t wiped away. Only in the Bible do we see what really happened. He was forgotten in prison. It took two whole years for the cup bearer to remember him. But when Pharaoh needed a dream interpreter, Joseph suddenly became the most important person in the country. God loves the forgotten. He vindicates the wrongly convicted. He lifts up the downcast. Our part through the highs and lows is to trust him. Just hang on. He’s coming.
Day 11, Genesis 36-38: Joseph is born and his brothers hate him. He is sold to Egypt and a new journey for God’s people begins. But before that story takes off, we see the ugliness of sin in the story of Judah and Tamar. The people God uses are not nice, clean folk. They’re a mess like you and me. But it’s not Judah that brought righteousness to the world anyway. It’s the One who came from Judah.
Day 10, Genesis 32-35: Jacob goes home. It’s not easy. He has to face Esau. Last time they saw each other he tricked him out of blessing. The night before, Jacob wrestles with God and doesn’t let him go until he’s blessed. The idea of blessing pervades the Jacob narrative. When he saw Esau, Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him. And they wept. That’s a blessing Jacob couldn’t imagine. Reconciliation is a blessing from above pointing us to the eternal reconciliation God effects in Christ.
Day 9, Genesis 29-31: Jacob the trickster is tricked. His life with his uncle Laban is no better than his life at him with Esau. But God is with him, blessing and providing. His life is one disappointment after another. That’s what sin does to us. But God takes our disappointments and turns them into stories of redemption for his glory. He advances his cause into eternity even when we can’t see beyond the next seven years of labor.
Day 8, Genesis 25-28: Isaac’s family is dysfunctional. Esau doesn’t care about God. Jacob only cares about himself. This is the family through which God’s blessing runs? God uses them anyway, bringing glory to himself through sinners. Jacob, who doesn’t deserve anything, receives the promise. If God can use him, can’t he use you and me?
Day 7, Genesis 22-24: Abraham is asked to sacrifice his only son. But God intervenes to save. One day, God will sacrifice his only Son and no substitute will die on his behalf. God’s Son becomes the substitute!
Day 6, Genesis 18-21: God takes our sin seriously, as seen in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. But God is also full of mercy for his people, as seen in the story of Lot and his family. God yanks us from what destroys us.
Day 5, Genesis 15-17: God is sovereign over every part of our lives. His promises may sound crazy but he is God and we are not. He can bring to pass what we could never imagine. Our part is only to trust him.
Day 4, Genesis 11-14: God calls Abram and makes his covenant with him. That promise extends to all of us who believe today. “It is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). But it’s Abraham’s most important offspring, Jesus, in which the promise finds its ultimate fulfillment.
Day 3, Genesis 8-10: The flood subsides and life on earth starts again. God makes a covenant with Noah. He will not flood the whole earth again. As a sign, he hangs his bow in the sky, not pointing down at us but pointing up at himself. He’ll pay the price of faithfulness and give his righteousness as a gift in his Son.
Day 2, Genesis 4-7: Sin spreads throughout the world. Cain kills Abel. Lamech kills a young man for wounding him. Men and women live and die, earning the wages for sin. But we are not left without faith in the world. Noah found favor in God’s eye. Why? Not because he built the ark but because he walked with him (4:8). He built the ark as a result of faith, not a path to faith. God uses openness from his people to build big things for him and to bring restoration to a dying land.
Day 1, Genesis 1-3: The creation of the world and mankind and our terrible fall into sin. But God’s promised offspring will bruise the heard of the serpent. The worst day in the history of the world wasn’t even outside the gracious and merciful hand of God.