Just a Beginning

To be honest, if I did not have these other responsibilities of “life”, I would just love to do it all over again. The 92 hours of Bible reading were totally amazing. Except for a few hours when the power was out or sound system not in place, it all went through outdoor loud speakers and into the surrounding community.18 anole clinic

It was interesting that none of us thought of sitting down while reading (even though a bench was available just behind the podium). I personally read for close to 5 hours several different days . . . and always wished I could continue longer! Thank you for many who sponsored one, two, ten or even more hours!! The total amount raised for missionaries of DOVE Africa (DMA) was $1,490 and the door for donations is still open. We thank you and thank the Lord.

flood wadingDMA missionaries serve in high-risk, ‘hardship’ areas in order to share God’s love and extend His Kingdom. We are proud of them.

Tremendous transformation has taken place in the communities as a result of their work. Schools, clinics, farms, youth projects, vocational training and churches are available where they did not exist before. 16 z irrigationThrough the missionaries’ hard work and commitment, children have access to education, patients walk a shorter distance to get medical attention, and all these are offered with a heart of love. Local communities have been confident enough to allow DMA missionaries to become recognized leaders, even in Islamic communities!

DMA missionaries face harsh weather, unfamiliar and unappealing food, new cultures, loneliness, opposition and even danger, but continue to serve enthusiastically, trusting God not only for protection but also for daily provision.  The Read-A-Thon was a “double win”; we are excited for the funds for DMA and the impact of God’s Word.

Z Manna line“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (I Tim 4:13). Interesting… I never really ‘noticed’ that verse before. But in a semi-literate society where many do not have Bibles of their own, we sense that was just a beginning of public reading of the Word to be incorporated into our church life and also in the Africa Center for Transformation (Prayer Center).

Yes, the Word of God is alive, active and at work!

~ Diane

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Law and Grace

I have known that the Bible speaks much about the relationship of Law and grace. But the prominence of this theme has been astounding in our reading. Probably we do not often focus on these passages, since we do not come from the background of indoctrination in the Law and the Prophets. It is not a strongly-felt need. Yet obviously it was an issue for the early church.

The New Testament explains that the law is limited; obsolete; it enslaves and it cannot save. However, it is valid, and teaches us so much. It provided a foretaste of things to come. It is given, among other purposes, for examples and warnings. Jesus clearly stated that he came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. The Old Testament points to Jesus. Paul used the “Laws and the Prophets” to convince Jews in Rome about the saving power of Jesus Christ.

And what about grace? It provides the ‘bookends’ of most of the Epistles. It is lavished on us, glorious, rich, manifold, all-abundant and all-sufficient. It is the reason for our salvation, source of spiritual gifts, core of our faith, and basis of forgiveness. We are told to stand in grace, abound in grace, be strong in grace, grow in grace, speak with grace and serve God by grace. Totally undeserved, not based on our own efforts, not free, yet wholly paid for by our Lord.

We learn from the Law, but live by grace. I’m still trying to get my head around it. . . .

Grace to you!

Bible Trivia Day Ten: After Paul revived a young man who had fallen asleep during his sermon, what did he do?

~ Diane

 

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Never Again

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a “readers’ high.” But that is the best way to describe what I experienced while reading the final chapters of the Old Testament on Wednesday.

The chronological plan we are following places Joel as the last book in the sequence of prophets, right after Malachi. What a book of victory it is! God really, really WANTS to bless His people. “Never again,” God declares. “Never again will my people be shamed.” It is a pertinent promise for the nation of Israel, even today.

Frequent references to the Old Testament throughout the Gospels have a much fuller meaning now after having read through it entirely: the Law of Moses, instructions to ‘show yourself to the priest,’ Jesus’ issues with the experts in/ teachers of the law, etc. Over and over Jesus upheld the law, but He directly opposed the unjust and legalistic application of “less important” aspects. He moved it from being a matter of outside behavior to a matter of the heart. He highlighted justice, mercy and faithfulness (Mt 23:23).

It seems that Jesus’ 3 years of ministry, according to the record of the gospels, had three main foci: demonstrating and explaining the Kingdom of God in power, diffusing and contradicting the errors of false religion, and consulting His Father in prayer. Probably when we read piece-meal, we focus more on the first: miracles and teachings. It is really good to have a more comprehensive view.

We read the account of Jesus’ crucifixion in four different languages, and of course since the resurrection is also in each of the four gospels, we also read that four times (though not in four languages).

Be encouraged: “The word of God is at work in you!” (I Thess 2:10)

Bible Trivia Day Nine: What distinguished the work of Shallum when the remnant in Jerusalem was re-building the walls under Nehemiah’s leadership?

~ Diane

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‘Then You Will Know’

Jeremiah and Ezekiel each paid an extremely high personal price for delivering God’s message to His people. And their words to the children of Israel were not pampered, by any means. These two prophets, along with several ‘minor’ prophets and the accompanying Kings and Chronicles framework, comprised most of our reading yesterday.

The messages of the prophets often seem contradictory. In one breath, the enemies of Israel are being condemned, and in the next they are triumphing over Israel and devastating them. In one moment, God is promising His people restoration and in another, He is pronouncing judgment.

This verse really helps make sense of it all: “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” (Jer 18:7-10 emphasis mine). Again, we have to make our choice.

And what is the point of God’s mercy in our lives? God would say “I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake” (Ezk 36:22, 32). It is “not about me.” It’s all about God. We are told at least sixty-five times in Ezekiel (yes, I counted), after all the trials and terror, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” The sovereign God resolved that He would be revealed and acknowledged.

In our journeys with God, what do we know about Him? What has life taught us about God’s nature?

Bible Trivia Day Eight: How did the Psalmist refer to God’s people in Psalm 74:19? (yeah, look it up!)

~ Diane

 

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If Only

We all desire to live a life without regrets. Sometimes, I have gotten the impression that regretting anything in life is a sin, because “God works out everything for good.” Yet, to be realistic, I often do regret things I have done in the past.

Isaiah was not afraid to verbalize God’s regrets regarding the children of Israel. “IF ONLY,” he cried out (Is 48:18). “If only you had paid attention to my (God’s) commands.”  He then lists five ‘would haves’ — things that Israel could have enjoyed, but did not because of disobedience.

In the reading today, we continued the classic rollercoaster ride of Israel’s history through dark days under the leadership of godless kings. My heart also echoes, “If only.” Did they realize how much they were giving up, how much heritage they were throwing away, how large a price had been paid to get them to their current status? There were God-fearing leaders now and then: Hezekiah, Josiah, Amaziah, Amariah, Jehoshaphat. But both kings and prophets alike were very ‘back and forth’ between good (which the prophets rejoiced over) and evil (which the prophets in turn condemned).

As Josiah despaired when he heard the book of the Law, so we can easily despair upon hearing all of God’s expectations for us. Just as with King David, we hold this consolation: “Only acknolwedge your guilt” because “I am merciful; I will not be angry forever” (Jer 3:13).

Ours, then, is to come in humble repentance. God IS merciful.

Am I paying full attention to God? Am I striving, by His grace, to live a life without regrets?

Bible Trivia Day Seven: What things do those who make wooden idols do with other parts of the pieces of wood used for making those idols?

~ Diane

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Ready for Week 2

The second week of Bible reading begins this morning. In DOVE Nairobi yesterday, Ibrahim shared on the role and power of God’s word in our lives. Very relevant.

We are grateful that 87 hours have already been sponsored and ‘paid for’!! Thank you! Read-A-Thon jpgThis will take us through most of the week. At this point however, the experience of reading itself has overshadowed the goal of raising money. What started as a fund-raiser for DOVE Africa missionaries has also become a life-changer.

The story of David, from shepherd boy to king, has always fascinated me; there are so many things to comment on.  David’s struggles with the ‘sons of Zeruiah’, and especially Joab, would be enough for a riveting novel. They were so close, and yet the relationship involved blackmail, differing values, and outright mutiny. Joab is the one who killed Absolom, but also the one who earlier convinced David to bring Absolom back to Jerusalem. Hmm.

The testimony about King David, from his own writing and also from the record of God’s Word to his prophets, is that he was ‘blameless,’ a man after God’s own heart , who followed the Lord wholeheartedly. Yet we know his sins. How does that work?

The answer is not easy. But I usually come back to the fact that David was truly and genuinely repentant. His immoral act with Bathsheba, and subsequent murder of her husband as a cover-up, was sin. Thankfully he realized that, and repented sincerely. The willingness and capacity to humbly repent is so crucial for any of our lives, and especially for Christian leaders. David certainly suffered consequences for these acts: his son died, and immorality (especially seen in Solomon) and violence (especially seen with Absolom) followed in the family line.

If we ever want to site David’s faults to make excuses for sin in our own lives, we better beware.

Thank you for following this journey with us!

Bible Trivia Day Five-Six: What did the Pharoah give his daughter as a wedding gift when she married Solomon?

~ Diane

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Day Four and All is Well

A chronological plan for Bible reading really ‘adds value’. I recommend that you try it. Consider, for example, Psalm 52 immediately after II Samuel 22 – David’s prayer of response after being betrayed by Doeg.

Today’s readings contained a lot of intrigue, drama and violence. The latter can be quite disturbing. David was very conscientious about not shedding innocent blood in some instances, yet when it came to the enemies of Israel, he was renowned for slaying ‘tens of thousands.’ I always breathe a sigh of relief when we read, “The land had rest from war.”

“…When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me, until I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny” (Ps 73:10-11). Yes, in the presence of God, our minds and quieted and hearts encouraged.

I noticed that in the Hebrew culture, ones family line was apparently very important. The lists and lists of genealogies, repeated backward and forward and inside out, indicate this. Maybe it was similar to the African culture – more about ‘who’ you know than ‘what’ you know. An uncle or aunt in high office is seen to hold a key for your future.

I gleaned a meaningful promise: “Yet I am always with you; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory” (Ps 73:23-24).

Bible Trivia Day Four:  What are the only complete chapters of Chronicles that are not repeated from other Old Testament books? (In I Chronicles, even the fact that Zelophehad only had daughters is mentioned again).

~ Diane

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