Dear Lord, in a week in which we not only see devastation, but also are breathing it, I pray for those who lost so much. You are king and you hear our prayers. Thank you for being with us. For those who lost family members and friends, I pray you would be with them in the mourning. For those who lost all their possessions, I pray you would comfort them and inspire others to come alongside. For those who lost their livelihood, I pray you would open up doors. For those firefighters and other first responders involved in fighting the devastation, give them strength, wisdom, courage, and hope. For all who are caught in the smoke and effects, keep them safe from complications. I pray for your presence, your renewal, your help, and I pray for rain. Amen.
1. Psalm 62-63
2. Reading through 1 Samuel 27-32 and 2 Samuel 1-12
One of the great misconceptions in Christian history (and often in Bible characters too) is that God gives a mission–a set of goals or a set of standards–and it is up to a person or the people to make it work. God doesn’t just give a mission, he also gives a method. Remember Joshua and Jericho? Their faith sought God’s goals using God’s method. And they won! Saul, in constrast, seemed to always miss this. He second guessed God and second guessed himself, often waiting too long or getting impatient. He was out of tune.
David, in contrast, seemed to dance with God’s calling. He knew when to be bold and when to be patient. He honored God’s work even as he didn’t shirk his responsibilities. When we give into impatience we sometimes defend it by saying, “That’s what God wants!” but we’re more like Saul here. How do we wait when there’s so much to do? We have faith.
As you read through these passages look for moments of faith and look for moments of fear. Fear in the Bible isn’t the contrast to courage after all, fear is contrasted with faith. We are to fear the Lord, of course, but if that is in place, what can come against us? David had faith, so then had courage. Courage is a result of faith. So is love. So is patience. So is hope.
Near the end we see David himself getting out of tune. There were consequences. What was his response?
These passages also show how even if we are called into God’s mission, we’re not always called to all of God’s mission. In a messy world, we want to fix what we see is wrong. Sometimes we can and we should! But sometimes, for assorted reasons, that is to be left for others. And so, in faith, we restrain and wait. Trusting that God is indeed lord and it is his mission not ours.
3. Reading Through John 18-21
The story of the crucifixion and resurrection. While the Gospel of John is different in a lot of ways from Matthew, it likewise emphasizes this part of the story. This is one of the more familiar parts of the Bible, so the challenge is to try to read it with fresh eyes. There’s different ways of doing that. One, as you read, use your imagination. Read it as if you were part of the crowd or one of the disciples. What are the smells? What do you see? Another way is to think of different questions to consider as you read through it. For instance, notice who Jesus responds to and who he doesn’t respond to? Who were the witnesses at the cross? What do you think you would have done?
Who did Jesus first meet after the resurrection? What were the different ways people responded to the resurrection?
Throughout all of these chapters and parts of the story we learn so much about the mission of Jesus and the character of Jesus. This is the biggest hardship a person can face and also the biggest victory. The powers of the world can kill. That is their ultimate claim to authority. Jesus refused to stay dead. He faced a bigger power than his ancestor David did, he showed more courage, and gained a bigger victory. Jesus is Risen! Jesus is king.
Which leaves us with question: who do we trust? Which side of this story do we align with? What does that mean for us as we press on in the challenges of life today?
4. Psalm 56-57
If you’ve fallen behind in the readings or having started year, don’t worry. Reading the Bible isn’t a limited time offer. Jump in this week, and catch up with what you’ve missed in future years.
Also, I highly encourage you to share your thoughts with others in your family, or immediate community. Talk about this stuff!
And, since I sometimes feel lonely, share your thoughts in the comment section.
Talking about your thoughts and questions is a very important part of the reading goal. Writing out our thoughts can help us remember what we read and keep our minds on the passage. It also is very helpful to share as we learn from each other. Even our questions or confusion can bring us together, as we highlight what others may have missed or address what a lot of us are also wondering. Don’t feel like you have to say or write a lot, or feel pressure to be profound. Respond with honesty and openness.
Just jump right in where you’re at, knowing that Christ invites you to respond without pressure or anxiety. It’s a journey not a performance.