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Matthew 5:17-18 have special meaning for me since 3 years ago I came out of a legalistic and abusive religious organization where the 'law' was everything - to the exclusion of the grace and love of god. That is one reason why this Bible study is a wonderful experience for me. And I very much appreciate your commentary on the ceremonial, civil, and moral aspects of the law. There are VERY MANY people out there who have had experiences like mine who need to hear this. For many reasons they will not take part in this study and that is sad. You can say they are 'snake-bit' and need much prayer to recover from the bondage of legalism. From time to time as the Spirit of God leads, I will share the comments here with those of them who will hear it.

Enjoy reading all your thoughts on the daily reading. Mike commenting
on being a night owl has been true of me for many, many years. I really didn't want to pay to much attention to Psa. 5:3 as I am not a morning person at all. But I do think it is something to strive for.

My biggest problem(s) are:

1. Getting to bed AND ASLEEP at a decent hour.
Sometime when I HAVE to get up early I have thought it would make it easier to get to sleep early - Not so!

2. When I do get up staying awake is a huge thing!
When I do get up early, unless I'm moving (an I'm not a jogger) I will more than likely doze off.

I do love the quietness of early morning there seems to be nothing like it AND I do think there is enough scripture to atleast support praying in the morning.

So do pray for a miracle or some practical steps to get me up and out of bed earlier and without falling back to sleep.

Great comments.

> what do you do in the morning to set your mind and heart on God?

I'm not as consistent as I'd like to be, but I often start by chatting and singing to God. I usually go straight to the shower in a rather sleepy state and start singing something worshipful. Then as I start to come round that usually develops into a thankful dialogue with Jesus.

Some mornings I go for a run first. When I started running again a few years ago, I asked Holy Spirit to be my running partner. There's many times I slow down my pace enough to chat with Him or to worship, and there's many times on my run I hear from Him or experience visions.

But I (try to) always sit down for half an hour or so after my shower with a cup of hot tea and my Bible in a quiet and peaceful household (the kids are still sleeping). I ask God to lead me in those times. Sometimes I'm led to pray, sometimes I'm led to my Bible, sometimes I scribble furiously as I tune in to God's words for me for the day.

The thing I really want to do is establish an awareness of God's presence for the whole day. I don't always do so well, but I'm improving.

I'm trying to fit the One Year Bible plan into additional time that adds to, rather than replaces, my exisitng time with God. It's been fairly easy during the holidays but I think when I get back to work next week I'll need to make an appointment in my diary each day, perhaps on many occasions it will be last thing before I go to bed.

Praise God for Mike and OYB! This is my second year and I am so thankful to have found OYB. As for early rising, never done anything else - much to my wife's annoyance:). In fact, I would actually like to stay in bed longer, but I am to restless when I attempt to do so, but I am thankful that I am up in time to read and reflect on God's Word. The Beatitudes are wonderful, especially in the 'Message' format.

Thank you once again for posting these helpful blog posts.

Morning person? Me? No. No, absolutely not. I would like to stay up late and get up even later. Of course, that isn't the case though. I do go to bed early and I rise up at 5:30 am, or sometimes even earlier. I don't like to rise early. Every morning is a struggle. I don't like it at all.


Yet when I finally manage to roll out of bed and begin to face the day, I do find myself grateful because...I agree. It is the perfect time of day to get up and get in touch with God.

But I do need a lot of prayer. With my ADD, my prayers become distracted and my mind wanders a lot. Sometimes it is difficult to focus on His Word.

The first three verses of todays Psalm speaks to me. I have heard it sung as a praise and it is one of my favorites.

Thank you, Mike.

God bless.

I like to get up, go to my computer, read the one year bible headlines that mike posts. Then I go plug in the kettle, grab a nice cup of tea, sit myself down in front of my fireplace, get my journal and OYB, and then begin to review the OYB as I listen/read it from my ipod, as i have downloaded the readings from brian hardin's daily one year audio bible.

I write in my journal my own highlights and then I actually 'pray' through the daily readings applying them to myself, my family, my friends, those in my ministry, and other pressing matters.

i find it interesting that Jesus' 'quiet time' as seen in Mark 1:35 where he arose a great while before day to pray in a solitary place was preceded by A LOT OF ACTIVITY, and then followed by even more activity. To just have 'quiet time' without being engaged in all of life is almost a dead end for me. Quiet time actually meets a need for me of simply being with Jesus to re connect with Him, to delight in Him, but also to be renewed and refueled by Him to re engage my busy life with all it's demanding relational, occupationally, and circumstantial challenges that await me throughout any given day.

I hope this makes some sense :)

I have 3 sons who like to stay up at night. I'm not sure if it is discipline or love-maybe both that gets me up in the mornings. I do need, want and desire time with Jesus each morning. Then I am prepared to meet the day's opportunities and challenges. Without a relationship with Jesus, I'd probably stay in bed, too. I believe that our sons have started that walk, but are not at the place of maturity in Christ to see the beauty of spending the early morning with Christ.

Ahh, I never realized Jesus was white with blue eyes. He really must have been conceived of the Holy Spirit because He had no Jewish blood in Him, that's for sure. LOL

Sorry... those images just always make me smile. Love the commentary, though. Keep it up.

I'm not as consistent in the am with my time with God as I should be either. The truth is I'm not a morning person. I can't stand them, even though I get up to get one of my sons off to school. I find so much of my alone time with God is spend in the middle of the night when I cannot sleep. I think God is okay with that. I find that when I do not spend this tme with God, I have an off kilter day.

I'm sure enjoying the readings and really loving them in The Message!!!

being separated now for nearly 2 years, I have found comfort and refuge in reading through the Bible. I thought I won't cope but I am still here reading/listening to {The Bible Experience} the Bible and OYB. The Beatitudes really spoke to me today and Psalm 5:1-26 too. God is great!

Matthew 5

Beatitudes - Sermon on the Mount

This is a little different perhaps than what you have heard about this sermon. Read it, pray about it and decide for yourself.

Jesus has his disciples around Him, the crowd behind the disciples
(probably a smattering of Pharisees and scribes present).

Jesus in the first twelve verses is celebrating the belief of the disciples (students of Jesus), and inviting the crowd (Israel). Let's group them in two groups of four.

3"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed (happy/content) in the Greek construct here is an idiom saying - "Congratulations". For those who are spiritually bankrupt (ever since the Fall) have now and forever more the kingdom of heaven.

There is a school of thought that says the connotation is that one recognizes he/she is poor in spirit. Whether or not that is true is moot as the next three verses describes one who is poor in spirit and reacts to that fallen state. The four verses should be understood together as a grouping.

Those that are poor in spirit:
- mourn: they lament the fact that their relationship with God is broken.
- meek: not a coward, but in Greek and reference back to Psalms of David - meek is one who is not about self. Who trusts in the Lord, relys on God, and is patient in awaiting the Lord.
- righteousness - those that are desperately seeking righteousness as if it is food and drink to a starving man - they are the people who with the right heart poor in spirit, lamenting (repenting), and trusting(meek) in the Lord...

What, what happens? These people are comforted, inherit the earth, are filled with righteousness by God. These people are saved. Happy should the disciples be because this is their state. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Curious and desiring should the people of Israel be in the backdrop.
What do these saved righteous people look like? Next four verses (not meant to be an exhaustive list):

- merciful - when God regenerates your heart you do not act as before. You do not lash out and give what you think others deserve, you help others - not perfectly, but you are changed.
- pure of heart: Heart is regenerated. You have a new heart not of stone - one without sin (as God sees you; remember God sees you as a finished product) or guilt. With this heart you have the ability to focus on God rather than the world.
- peacemakers: A believer is not a sower of discord. Again not perfectly but changed from before....

So what happens when you are changed in this way - you get mercy, you get to see God (in heaven), and you are the children of God so you are not just in heaven but co-heirs to heaven.

Caveat: When you are persecuted for righteousness ( being merciful, focused on God, and peacable) be happy/content/congratulations because remember yours is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus emphasizes this by repeating it in different words in next two verses. Said twice is important: Probably meant so one would not become discouraged in the Chrsitian walk.
So what are these saved people: Jesus says you are salt of the earth and light of the world.

Matthew 5 (part 2)

17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

I think two things are going on here:

1)Shifting talk to the backdrop crowd. Jesus is affirming He is the Messiah, and nothing has changed. God is immutable. All that came before is valid. Jesus fulfills the prophecies, AND Jesus will fulfill the Law. How?

The Law was meant to display God's high standards. Standards that no one could live up to as humans. So what do we do? God says you must atone for breaking the law with sacrifices of innocent blood. It was a constant and daily process, but it all pointed to Christ. He would come and make one FINAL sacrifice for all sins, and then if you believe and accept that and Jesus as your Lord and Savior - a man would be redeemed. Because the sacrifice was perfect and fulfilled God's need for Justice their need be no more. For those that believe God could get on with the process of sanctification (using the Holy Spirit), but the sin dilemma was solved at the cross for those that believe (trust and have faith in God).

2)By bringing up the Law here I think Jesus is doing something consistently from here to the end of Chapter 5.

Jesus lists things you have heard and He sets the bar even higher. It is the way we shoud all act, but if man could not obey the Law how can he possibly follow the commands in
Chapter 5. Ex. In adultery not only the action, but if you think it?

For believers they are saved and they will trust in God to take them down their walk and get closer to these higher standards.

For non-believers - A BIG RED FLAG SHOULD GO UP - Wait a minute we can't possibly do this, what do we do????? This opens up the door for the Gospel to be preached and God to draw those who are searching.

How much the non-believer understands of all this is moot. The question is: Is their conscience pricked, is their heart moved, do they want to know more?

Psalm 5

David is pretty consistent, and while he may be writing about things going on in his life - the salvation message is still subtly in the Psalms.

11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Refuge is also the Herbrew word for "trust". Those that believe and trust in God will be delievered and protected.

Also note in early verses David only prays to God - no one else. God is beig enough to handle the switchboard.


Everyone gets "Babel" (hopefully), but now is a good time to address taking the Bible literally.

When someone asks me if I believe the Bible literally? My response is - "I believe the Bible is God's Word to us, and I read it in a stragihtforward fashion. There are parables, similes, metaphors, poetry, etc. all throughout the Bible and I study to know what is what."

Here is a good example:
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.

Did God need to come down to investigate things? No, He knows all. My understanding is that this is a bit of irony. Man thought the tower and city were so grand and glorious, but to God it was just a speck - a nothing (compared to the Universe). It was so small that He had to come down to even see what they thought was so grand and glorious. God has a sense of Humor :) I think this is "situational irony" but regardless I got a chuckle.


Abraham - Friend of God

Abraham is and was a great patriarch in the OT. Abraham was flawed as we all are - his flaws are on display in today's reading.

[Note: In Gen 12 notice all the "I will's" that will occur in Abraham's life if he listens to God and heeds. He will listen and eventually heed but there are stumbles along the way - as their are with all of us who trust God.]

In Acts 7 Stephen says Abram was first called by God out of Ur. What happened? Abram halfway listened - he left with his family and got halfway to Canaan and settled in Haran. Abram was still with his father, and it was not until his father passed that Abram went on to Canaan.

Abram did not fully obey God and wasted many years in Haran.

When a famine struck Canaan, Abram did not consult God but went down to Egypt (represents the "world" in Bible).

What happened in Egypt:
- Abram told a lie - and Sarai was exposed to shame and danger.
- Abram is made rich - not bad, but eventually it causes rift between him and Lot. And don't forget Hagar was one of the servants Abram acquired.
- Abram became a curse to Pharoah. If Abram had obeyed he would be blessing to those who blessed him. Here he was a curse to one who had given him riches.
- Abram suffered rebuke and humilitaion - a pagan king had better morals than Abram.

So Abram returned to Canaan to the altar he had built before Egypt and there "called on the name of the Lord".

Abram repented and called on God. Would Abram's wanderings been shorter and happier if he had just obeyed God all along? Don't know. What we do know is our God is a patient God, a God of Grace, has a plan, sees Abram as the finished project, and is ready to carry on (once called) in Abram's life.

Mark, I enjoyed your comments about running in the morning and your quiet time afterward. For me, it brought to remembrance a season when I was disciplined with daily exercise. I had some of the best quiet/prayer times of my life during that season, while running or on the Nordic track, or lifting weights and yoga. Sadly I do nothing now. Now, I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to exercise to reach new heights with devotions. I'm more just testifying (because I was a life-long, non exerciser before this point) that there really is something freeing about prayer and exercise paired together. I wouldn't have believed this if I hadn't experienced it first hand (and I don't mean this in any kind of "mystical" way either). There is just something about one's body in motion that frees the mind. I imagine it's almost like an extra blessing that is built into proper stewardship and care of one's body.

I say this all having put BACK on the 40 pounds that I took off during that period, so don't think I'm wagging my finger at anyone (except perhaps myself! ; ))

Anyway, I DO miss those times and pray that the Lord will bring me back there some day. I know what I need to do on my end, but I'm stubborn!

Right now, my devotion time is rather sedate. I pretty much wake up, roll out of bed, get coffee, and settle down to devotions.

The first thing I do is start the day with a few moments of reflection on my knee with my hands outstretched. During this time (which is admittedly brief as my floors are hardwood and it's not exactly comfortable ; )), I just talk with the Lord, thank Him for the new day, etc. I like to pray the Lord's prayer during this time too...reflecting upon it, personalizing it.

I hesitate to even mention this (as it sounds like I'm trying to be ultra spiritual and I even feel kind of embarrassed when my husband or kids see me kneeling!) except that as Mike said, knowing what others do can be helpful and inspiring. I'm certainly not a legalist (and am sorry to learn of your negative experience Terry). It's just that for personally, I find the physical act of getting down on my knees for a few minutes every morning helps my perspective. It helps me to understand in a physical way that I am small and He is great, that I am here living out His purposes, that He's the one who gives me breath and makes my knees work, etc. In short, it grounds me and gives me a starting point for the day.

As an aside, I grew up Catholic but never knew the Lord during that time, so I think that when I came to know Him, I went too far the other way for awhile... totally informal and spontaneous, disliked all scripted prayers, traditions, etc. But, I feel like the Lord is moving me back to a more of middle ground with small things like this. I think posture is significant and that it's good to kneel and humble oneself. And, I love the thoroughness and adaptability of the Lord's Prayer...knowing that it was what Jesus taught his disciples, that it touches upon things that I need to stay close to every day, knowing that there are people all over the world that use that prayer as a starting point, that it has been a touchstone of sorts throughout the ages of the church....

Anyway...I don't believe the exact specifics of one's devotion time and worship style (whatever they may look like) are particularly significant. It's more that we seek Him every day, often, in whatever way is genuine for us. He longs for us to seek Him and engage relationally with Him, and that will look different for each of us because each of us is unique... though we will probably have common threads.

Also, I know my devotion times have varied during different seasons of my life. Sometimes they have been very thorough and structured. Other times, when we've had small children, I would do well to get any scrap of Word in. And I've had hurt and angry times when I think my conversations with God were pretty terse and angry too.

But, God is so merciful and good to us--He made us and knows the scope of us! He's intimately familiar with with our selfish nature, yet He loves us and works with us despite all of this! As long our heart is "real" (and real doesn't have to be worked-up emotion either) I suspect He's pleased that we are seeking Him. He's so faithful to meet us there and use it for our growth and His glory.

Anyway....getting back to the morning part, I find that I do best if I have my devotion time first thing in the morning--otherwise, the day just gets frittered away. I like to think of the devotion time as a sort of first tithe, the first portion of this very day that He's given me. After all, each day is a gift and every breath I take is because of His grace...

I read the Bible almost exclusively on the computer now--I love, love, LOVE e-Sword (free downloadable Bible software with all kinds of commentaries and such you can add on: What I love about e-Sword is that I can effortlessly flit between different versions, commentaries, concordances, etc. It's all right there without cumbersome books or flipping pages.

I apologize that this particular post has gotten rather long-winded...for me, writing helps me think through things. I've enjoyed hearing other's thoughts and styles of quiet time. I'm so glad that we serve a God who delights in diversity! : )

I just joined this wonderful bible study two days ago. WOW am I glad I did. I have studied the Bible for years and have gotten away from a Bible Study program and through God's answer to prayer a friend at church led me to this.
What do I do in the morning? Each morning as I am walking the dog (before I go to work) I pray to God. I enjoy the morning sun and the quietness of the walk. I can concentrate on God and listen to him when He speaks. When I get home, my mother (who is 88 yrs. old and lives with me) read the scriptures together and discuss what we read. We say we have breakfast with Jesus each and every day. It is a wonderful way to start the day. Again, I am glad I joined.

During the summer I am much better about doing my bible studies in the morning since I don't work during the summer. I am working on trying to get there now but it's a work in progress:)I love the quiet of early mornings and I'm trying to transform to being an AM person!!

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. - Matthew 5:14-16

15 years ago when my life was in utter darkness, a lot of people were unkind to me. I'm sure that it had everything to do with me having a sour attitude and being a sad sack. But, there was one woman at work, Dawn, who was kind. She also wore her love for Christ on her sleeve. She never ceased in talking to me about how Jesus had changed her life. Even though I disagreed with her about her faith, the fact that she was kind is what stood out. She didn't judge me, all of her discussions were about the love of Christ. And she never represented her life as being all sunshine and flower now that she found Jesus, she just seemed so happy to know Him despite everything else that is in this fallen world. At one point she offered to accompany me to get my first Bible and helped me pick one out at the Christian bookstore. THIS is an example of the light of Christ shining through someone. She was one of the only people at my job, in fact in my life, who remained genuinely kind and loving and I remember specifically thinking that it must have been the power of her faith. And her friendship was a major factor in my subsequent conversion 5 years later. I think back on that and realize what an excellent sample of light that is. She proclaimed the love of Christ and gave me love when no one else wanted to be around me. I was a leper and she was kind and showed me love.

I love today's memory verse Matthew 5:14,16. I pray that whatever I do, I can shine God's light before others, and bring glory to God.

Every morning I have quiet time to read the scripture and a devotional book, as well as prayer. At the end of the day before going to sleep, I read this bible blog, which is very encouraging.

Based on our Psalm 5 reading today, what do you do in the morning to set your mind and heart on God?
to be honest, I haven't been doing this as a first thing. I do say a "good morning, Lord" but then I get up to settle my kids' school bags, try to make breakfast for my hubby and spend some time with him before he disappears for the day. Reading the Bible and doing my QT usually happens either in the late morning and/or in the afternoon (like now) when the house is quiet and I am alone. Sometimes it gets split into two sessions like today.

Is it prayer, reading the Bible, reading other devotions?
I find myself waking up each morning with one particular worship/praise song in my head. It seems to get repeated throughout the day. When I'm spending time with God, I start with praise and prayer and then read the devotional at Proverbs31 online. I enjoy those devotions as they are written for women by women and deal with alot of issues that are so near and dear to a gal's heart. Then I spend time reading thru OYB passages. Sometimes when a verse strikes me, I'll look at various versions to get a more complete understanding of its message. As I've chosen a paraphrase version to read from this year, I do want to make sure my understanding stays true to the original text. Then I end with a prayer.

Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings?

Wow! The Beattitudes jumped straight off the screen today. I'm reading The Message version and I've just never ever saw them this way before. I've printed it out and its on my wall above my computer screen now where I can be sure to look at it and contemplate it often.

Another passage that spoke to me was Ps 5:1-3.
1-3 Listen, God! Please, pay attention! Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries? King-God, I need your help.
Every morning you'll hear me at it again.
Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend.

Again this version puts into words what I feel sometimes when I just cry out to God. Its all little phrases and sentences that make absolutely no logical sense but I know that He can put it all together, understand what I need and desire and make things right. Its amazing to know that David felt the same way all those years ago. And that the same God deals with us just as He dealt with David.

I agree with your tower of Babel comment.

In today's World the language problem is still relevant!

If you have time, please check
as well as

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