Finale

Our nearly 100 hours of Bible reading was capped on Sunday morning when we read through the book of Revelation. It took about one-and-a-half hours, not too much longer than a typical Sunday morning sermon (smile!)

Do you see anything unique in this picture?

Revelation is a book of allegory and symbol. It was written when Christians were suffering intense persecution; John himself was exiled on an island designated for prisoners. I cannot begin to give specific apocalyptic interpretation (because I don’t understand most of it and because it would take volumes of writing), but in honor of the prominence of number seven in the book of Revelation, I have highlighted seven key aspects.

  1. God has a plan for the redemption of all those who will accept it, and the establishment of His Kingdom. History is going somewhere, and we are privileged to preview the end.
  2. God loves the church. He sees the strengths, struggles and sins of each particular congregation.
  3. Be encouraged; stand firm.
  4. God cannot tolerate sin; judgment is sure.
  5. The suffering of the martyrs has been recorded in heaven, and God has a reward in hand—not only for them but for all who serve Him faithfully.
  6. Light and darkness are in conflict, and we are in the thick of the battle.
  7. Jesus IS coming back for His bride!

Yes, it was a cake!

Oh — “a Bible cake?” you might wonder. Apart from celebrating our reading this year, I wanted an object lesson to remind us that God’s Word is sweet, and something we should eat and digest. (Yes, it was very sweet!)

Thank you for your support and for following our Bible Read-a-Thon. Thankfully we don’t have to wait one more year to start, or keep on, communing with God through His written Word. It is always available—if we are!

~ Diane

 

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Paul’s Assignment

The Bible Read-a-Thon has been a truly exciting journey. There are so, so many things to share, but I’ve selected just a few impressions from the dramatic final chapters of the Book of Acts.

Students from Joysprings Education Center came to help with reading, and brought a generous donation for the missionaries.  Thank you, Joysprings!

  • Paul repeatedly states, as other apostles and Jesus Himself did, that he “declared the kingdom of God and…Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets” (28:23). After reading through the Law and Prophets in the last two weeks, this is quite an affirmation. Jesus and the salvation plan of God ARE found in the entire Bible!
  • Paul was given a specific assignment when God knocked him off his horse on the Damascus Road. He kept repeating that assignment (Acts 22; 26) and it became like an anchor for his life. He declares in 26:19 that he was not disobedient to that vision. Do I know the reason for which God created me? The specific assignment He has for my life?
  • Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem had been predicted, but he went to Jerusalem anyway, not fearing death. More important to him than life itself was to finish the work God had assigned to him (20:24). Wow. Do I want to live just for the sake of it, in order to avoid death? Or, do I only want to live if I am really and truly fulfilling my God-given purpose?
  • Although Paul himself prophesied “disaster, damage, and loss of life” if they set out for Rome, he must have been praying a lot in that ship! Because later, an angel appeared to him and promised that there would be no loss of life (Acts 27). We learn that even when destruction is prophesied, there is still a place for intercession. God sometimes shows us things in a negative state so that we will appeal, in prayer, for a positive outcome instead.
  • Faith, or works? “Paul’s gospel” or “James’ gospel?” One simple statement can settle the whole debate: “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds” (26:20).

The Word of God is so rich. It is alive! Reading the Bible out loud causes me to notice things that I have missed before. It has more and more and more to teach us every time we give ourselves to read, study and OBEY.

~ Diane

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Not Guilty?

DAY 7: A simple truth touched me in our reading today. “Yet in spite of all this you say, ‘I am innocent; he (God) is not angry with me.’ But I will pass judgement on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned'” (Jer 2:35).

Why is it so difficult for us to admit wrong? Why are we quick to be defensive, especially when challenged or accused?

In relationships, we know very well that saying “I am sorry” can quiet almost any storm. But saying it—sincerely—can be so difficult. Even before God, we tend to ask for forgiveness with empty words but not genuine repentance.

Elsewhere the prophet Jeremiah states the same accusation in an interesting way: “They do not even know how to blush” (Jer 6:15).

Would God accuse me of being self-righteous? Am I able to blush? <:)

~ Diane

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Read-a-Thon: Our Purpose

Our ongoing Bible reading has a dual purpose:

  • To know Christ – through the reading of His Word
  • To make Him known – through support of missions

We have identified five projects of DOVE Missions Africa (DMA) that are in need of funds. (Some names and locations are vague for security reasons).

  1. On the scenic island of Lamu in the Indian Ocean, George and Doris are reaching Islamic children at Hope Academy. But the school roof is leaking, and when it rains, classes are very disrupted. We want to help them repair the roof.
  2. Anole, a remote desert village, is home to a DMA clinic that provides medical service to the nearby communities. Funds are needed to buy medicine for the clinic.
  3. Martin and Liz give leadership to Joy Nursery School in a refugee camp that is home to tens of thousands who have fled to Uganda from South Sudan. Conditions in the camp are disparaging. Many children need sponsorship so that they can buy the required school uniforms and school books; we want to help get these children in school.
  4. DMA personnel in northeastern Kenya teach vocational skills to local women. They are renting a room for the sewing machines, but need to put up a small training center that will provide more space and freedom
  5. Nekesa and her husband are reaching villagers in Faza Island with agricultural training, education and private discipleship. Living conditions there are quite challenging. They need a water tank to be able to store rain water that can be used in the dry season.

So in addition to the benefits that we here in Nairobi are gaining from reading God’s Word, we are also fund-raising. We invite you to send a generous donation. You can use the “donate” button on the right or send a check written to DOVE International (11 Toll Gate Rd, Lititz, PA 17543); earmark DMA Read-a-Thon or any of the specific projects listed above.

THANK YOU! We are very grateful for your participation.

~ Diane

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Do Not Forget!

Just in case, by any chance, or at any one time, we think that our own worth has earned us our stand in life—we should just read the book of Deuteronomy.

It is very easy to believe that the good things we have in life have come to us through our own effort. Or because we are somehow good. NOT SO. We do not deserve any of them. Moses made sure that the children of Israel knew that!

“It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land. . . Understand then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord you God is giving you this good land to posses, for you are a stiff-necked people” (Dt 9:5,6). “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other people… but it was because he loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers” (Dt 7:7-8). “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord” (Dt 6:12).

Israel did not deserve God’s favor. Neither do I. But God did bless Israel, and wants to bless us also. He is seeking for trustworthy stewards through whom He can extend His influence and reign, and through whom His glory can be seen among all nations. Assuming their obedience, God declared “I will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations… that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God” (Dt 26:19).

Quite a promise! But the children of Israel did not obey. The book of Judges gives quite an opposite picture as the tumultuous cycles of oppression and tragedy overtake God’s beloved people. God’s decrees had been forgotten. Everyone did what  seemed right “in his own eyes”; there were no absolutes or moral guide.

Blessings undeserved; troubles self-inflicted. Lord, help us not forget!

~ Diane

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Precision and Excellence

Day 2: Reading through Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers could be suffocating; one is left with no doubt as to why these books are the core of what is known as THE LAW! However, the journey could also be inspiring. Because even though we are no longer under the law, God’s nature does not change. In all that God instructed His people to do and make, the emphasis is on skill and excellence. That gives me a lot of inspiration.

First, it reminds me that we cannot just approach the things of God “hivi-hivi” (whatever-ish). Attention to detail and exactitude are so glaringly evident in God’s dealings with man. He would expect the same of what we offer Him today. (For example, during the reading, I was stirred to go and re-trim a flier we were handing out; the edges needed to be neater than they were!) I was reminded that we play around with the things of God too often.

But even more important is the unspeakable chasm that Christ has bridged for us. All of the prerequisites, regulations, specifications, restrictions, sacrifices and offerings that had to be “exactly according to the pattern”— all the attempts to attain a high and holy standard that we can never actually attain—Jesus fulfilled all of it!

Finally, we see that doubting our own ability, or doubting that God can work through us, is not “humility.” It is sin. Major sin. Doubt in what God could do cost the Israelites thirty-eight years of wilderness wandering and their chance to enter the Promised Land.

Do I recognize the significance of the privilege of entering God’s presence that Jesus bought for us? Do I recognize the importance of what God expects me to do based on His power at work within?

~ Diane

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God’s Pain; Our Pain

Have you ever felt that your work is in vain? Have you ever thought that all the effort, energy, time and money you put into something was useless? I certainly have.

cathedral card

Today we started the 2017 Bible Read-a-Thon. We saw that God had a master plan from the time of creation. He made the skies and the seas, plants and animals, man and woman. And it was all good—very good! He wanted to commune with man and watch him manage well the wondrous world He had created.

But things went wrong. Adam shirked his responsibility. Eve disobey God’s command. Cain killed his brother. . . things went from bad to worse. The world was full of violence and corruption.

Genesis 6:6 says, “The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”

When I read that today, with the gathered congregation and neighborhood-within-sound-of-our-loudspeakers listening, I felt literal pain in my chest. I almost broke down. God Himself—grieved and filled with pain. Because of my sin. Because His work seemed to be in vain. Because His plan was not working?

Certainly, God understands our frustration—insignificant in comparison—when things do not work out as we hoped. He feels the every pain in our broken world.

Then, in the book of Job, we saw that all Job’s suffering and despair, (all of our sicknesses, poverty and shattered dreams), even though inflicted by the enemy, are not outside of God’s sovereignty. He uses all for a purpose. Life is too complicated for simple answers and we cannot fully understand, but God does. Just as God never let go of Job and vice- versa, may we never let go of God. Job’s relationship with God emerged stronger through all that he suffered; may ours also.

“Blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” (Job 5:17)

“He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:1)

~ Diane

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