Welcome 2015!

This is going to be an amazing year!  It’s such a fun thought to know that there are bunches of us who want to know God better and are waking up and beginning everyday meeting with Him.  It makes those blurry-eyed mornings a little more “doable” when you know you’re not the only one in the world who is going for it! 

The Daily Reading section is going to be used for notes about the daily readings. The purpose is to simply highlight the fact that God wants to speak to us every day.  He isn’t silent!  Sometimes we just need a little extra perspective to see the things He may want us to see.  Our hope is that these daily comments would provide encouragement, open your heart in a new way or simply just “add to” your own personal time with Him. Wewill have new entries each day that correspond with the daily reading schedule – so keep checking in! 

God bless,

Phil Joel

 

Daily Reading

Monday
Mar022015

March 2nd deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:  

Leviticus 26:1-27:34 / Mark 10:32-52 / Psalm 45:1-17 / Proverbs 10:22

 

Standout Verses: Mark 10:47-52

“And when he (blind Bartimaeus) heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart. Get up; he is calling you."  And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.  And Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" And the blind man said to him, "Rabbi, let me recover my sight."  And Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way”.

I love this story because as I read it I can imagine a smile on Jesus' face as he asks Bartimaeus, who is obviously blind, "What do you want me to do for you?"

I imagine Jesus' smile grow even bigger when Bartimaeus responded with "Rabbi, let me recover my sight."

Jesus knows exactly what we need but He wants us to speak out our requests to Him – not for His sake but for ours. He wants to build our communication, relationship and dependence on Him. We need to hear our own voices placing our needs before the Lord and declaring our dependence on Him. When we do this our faith grows and we are able to look back on His providence and say "Praise God, only He could have done that!"

1Peter 5:7 Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.

Sunday
Mar012015

March 1st deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:  

Leviticus 24:1-25:55 / Mark 10:13-31 / Psalm 44:9-26 / Proverbs 10: 20-21

 

Standout verses:

Mark 10:17-22

The Story of the Rich Young Ruler

This is a story about an advantaged, wealthy and successful young man.  He had an excellent resume and was in good standing in the community.  He did all the “right” things, followed all the rules and had probably even clocked up the appropriate amount of community service and charity work hours.  Yet, even with all this, he wanted more.  For him the “carrot” was eternal life and he wanted it.

When Jesus asked him to lay all he had worked for aside - his accomplishments, community standing and the solid financial nest he had built for himself - and simply follow Him, the cost of eternal life proved to be too much.  He went away sad and dejected at the thought of not attaining this prized positioning.  He wasn’t prepared to let go of the tight grip he had of all he’d worked for and faithfully let the Lord lead him. 

No doubt, Jesus was simply testing him – proving a point.  He most likely wouldn’t have actually forced the young man to give up all he had, he was simply illustrating to him the fact that his resume, riches and community standing ruled him and dictated the way he lived instead of allowing the Lord to lead him.

Jesus calls us to lay aside our “selves” – our self-driven desires, our plans and our personal resume building and open our hearts to Him in a new way.  He asks us to loosen our grip on the things of this world and open our hearts and hands to the things He has for us – beginning first with having a real, growing relationship with Him.  Life with Him leads to true peace, true life, true fruit, and true purpose.  Great news!

Saturday
Feb282015

February 28th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:  

Leviticus 22:18-23:44 / Mark 9:30-10:12 / Psalm 44:1-7 / Proverbs 10:19

 

Standout verse:

Mark 9:43, 45&46

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands…(v.45) And if your foot cause you to sin, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter into life lame rather than having two feet…(v. 47) And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.  It is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye rather than having two eyes…

These verses underline (in a very strong way) the need for us to deal radically with sin in our lives.  As we are reading in Leviticus, God calls us to lives that are holy and set apart for Him.  When sin is alive and well in our lives, it can’t help but separate us from God.  Sin has an ugly way of clouding our relationship with the Lord.  It’s like a giant pink elephant sitting in the room with us and God – it’s there, we both know it and see it, yet, somehow, we don’t want  to acknowledge it.  It ends up compromising the depths we are able to go to with Him.  Jesus is calling for a radical removal of anything in our lives that hinders our walk with Him.

Are your finding yourself doing things you shouldn’t be doing?  Going places you shouldn’t be going?  Seeing things that you shouldn’t be seeing?  If the answer is yes, then there is a compromise happening in your relationship with the Lord.  

Acknowledging our sin is the first step.  If you are having a hard time identifying exactly what it is that you need to confess, humbly ask the Lord to show you and bring clarity to what it is that needs to be “cut” out of your life. Many times sin can seem subtle, even harmless, yet it can be spiritually debilitating (bitterness, anger, gossip, pride, etc…).  We need to go before the Lord daily and ask Him to reveal our sin to us and show us what needs to go.  When we do this regularly, we have a much better chance at staying clean and not waking up one day to find that baby elephant has grown into a super-sized monstrosity!

The next step is ownership of that particular habit or offense (saying “I did it”) and then confession by way of the mouth.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and Just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”  That’s a promise.  It’s pretty simple, but it requires action on our part.  God wants us to do the “cutting” so He can step in and do the cleansing.

As we speak to sin (that pink elephant) and tell it to leave the room (confess and ask God for forgiveness), the room becomes open, clean and prepared for deeper, freer, and closer connection with our Heavenly Father.

Friday
Feb272015

February 27th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:  

Leviticus 21:1-22:17 / Mark 9:1-29 / Psalm 43:1-5 / Proverbs 10:18

 

Standout verse:

Proverbs 10:18-19

“Whoever hides hatred has lying lips and whoever spreads slander is a fool.  In the multitude of words, sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Today’s Proverb + Tomorrow’s Proverb)

We are living in a world where volumes of words and opinions are at an all time high.  Our culture is centered on consumer reviews, texts, emails, Facebook posts, “likes”, etc…  We’ve become a society of self-proclaimed critics where anyone and everyone’s opinion and thoughts can be voiced and spread, literally, like a virus.  We’ve gotten so comfortable spouting off “just exactly what we think”, and “what’s on our minds”.  We’ve grown to feel justified and like it’s our God-given right to let our “inner Simon Cowell” come out critiquing and picking on every imperfection or slight defect we can detect in people.  

We need to get a grip on ourselves.  That is not at all how God calls us to live.  His hearts breaks when He sees that kind of poisonous thinking entering our hearts and coming out of our mouths.  It not only damages others, it pollutes the hearts of the critics and chokes out the life of Christ in them like bind weed. 

God calls us to guard our tongues, count the cost of our words, restrain our lips, and examine the condition of our hearts. There are so many verses in the Bible that talk about the power of our tongues: power to build up or tear down, power to be like a tree of life for others, or power to break their spirit (Proverbs 15:4).   From out of the heart the mouth speaks – the things we speak are a mirror into the condition of our hearts. 

O Lord, let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You, our strength and our Redeemer! (Psalm 19:14)

Thursday
Feb262015

February 26th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule: 

Leviticus 19:1-20:27 / Mark 8:11-38 / Psalm 42:1-11 / Proverbs 10:17 

 

Standout verse:

Mark 8:13-21
“Why do you reason because you have no bread?  Do you not perceive nor understand?  Is your heart still hardened?  Having eyes do you not see?  Having ears do you not hear?  And do you not remember?”

Once again the disciples found themselves in a situation where they didn’t have enough to eat (this time it was just the disciples alone with Jesus on a boat).  Once they realized that they were in a state of need, they became worried and anxious and essentially said to Jesus, “What are we going to do?  We don’t have enough!”  

Jesus said to them, “Guys, open up your eyes.  I have just done amazing miracles that you have all seen first hand – I fed 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish and had 12 baskets of leftovers; and then just a few days later I did the same thing for 4,000 people!  Do you think feeding 12 people here on this boat is too big for Me?”  He wanted His men to break out of their spiritual deafness and blindness and allow the truth of who He is and His amazing power to convict their hearts in order to strengthen them.

Sometimes we can find ourselves coming up against the same set of circumstances over and over.  We have seen God’s mighty hand of provision come through time and time again, but with each new test or moment of suspense, we find ourselves fretting and becoming anxious, not sure if God will provide.  He wants to say to us (just like He said to His disciples), “Guys, DO NOT BE AFRAID!  REMEMBER! I am Jehovah Jireh, your Provider - TRUST ME…I ALWAYS COME THROUGH!  Are you walking in obedience?  Are you in the place I have called you be?  Then don’t worry.”  

Where God guides, He will provide! He is our good and loving, heavenly Father who wants good things for His children. And as we trust Him and walk in obedience, we can be confident in Him.   Don’t question His ability, simply wait with expectation as He provides for your every need.”  
 Standout Chapter: Psalm 42 – The psalmist is in distress and is yearning for the Lord who feels far away.  He seems to be “preaching to himself” and speaking the truth about who God is in order to remind himself of the promises of God.

This isn’t an exercise in “positive confession”, it is the determination to SPEAK TRUTH!  When we SPEAK THE TRUTH, we HEAR THE TRUTH and our FAITH RISES.  

The key here is that we must KNOW the truth in order to speak it.  So, how do we know the truth?  We must feed on it = put it in our hearts and minds on a daily basis through reading the Word (God’s truth), memorizing and meditating on it.