Ezekiel 27-30; James 1

James 1:9 tells us to “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation,…”

Some may interpret this Scripture as a political sentiment leaning to the left – saying something like this: the poor will be given the wealth that the rich will have to give up.  However, James does not indicate in this passage that this is so. In fact, the profit of the lowly (poor) brother is one of perseverance through experiencing difficult circumstances which has the effect of perfecting his character and faith (thus, exaltation). The same effect is wrought for the rich brother who can glory (count it all joy) when he learns through experience that his pursuits for money and his wealth will fade away, thus teaching him he should always trust in the Lord, not himself or his money.

To be sure, if you are poor you are looking for a way to get what you need and want. Then again, if you are rich you are looking for ways to get more of what you need and want. What is different for each of them, then? The difference is not between the desires of the rich and the poor but between the man who trusts in the Lord and the one who does not. Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

There are many other such passages of Scripture that assure us that God cares for us and is with us in our time of need or plenty (Matthew 6:33, for example). There are just as many that speak about learning contentment in all circumstances (I Timothy 6:6-10 outlines godliness with contentment). So how does a Christian gain contentment at all times? The first rule of thumb is to remember in whose hands we are held. Jeremiah was given the task to remind God’s chosen people of this truth. In Jeremiah 18:1-6, [The Lord told Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s house.]  “The potter was making something at the wheel, and the vessel that he made was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the Lord said, “

‘…can I not do with you as this potter?’”

Now, I’ve never made pottery, but I am fascinated watching the potter work with clay and water, using his hands to build a base and shape an object, making adjustments or even starting over when the product collapses or tilts to the wrong side.  As long as the clay is wet and pliable, the potter continues to form and smooth the vessel until satisfied with the finished design. What an illustration of how God with expertise, patience, and purpose fashions us from the elements of this world into His chosen vessels capable of holding His Spirit to pour out His blessings.

Yes, it is hard to declare that there is purpose in going through trials when one is poor, and it even harder to say that a rich man should lose everything in order to learn godly contentment. (Hey, I’m just the messenger!) As Jeremiah lamented, “O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed,” Jeremiah 20:7 Yet, I, too am persuaded by this message that we all, rich or poor, should not trust in man but must trust only in the Lord our God.

Janet

From the archives. Originally published October 5, 2015.

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Ezekiel 24-26; Hebrews 13

then you will know that I am the Lord God (Ez 24:24 ESV)

they will know that I am the Lord (Ez 24:27 ESV)

Then you will know that I am the Lord. (Ez 25:5b ESV)

Then you will know that I am the Lord. (Ez 25:7 ESV)

(and on, and on)

God makes His commands clear, along with judgements for disobedience and blessings for obedience.

Israel, and other nations, live however they please.

God judges.

Then, they know that He is the Lord.

He has standards. He defines truth, goodness, justice, right and wrong. And, He holds us to those expectations.

As the New Testament roles along and we now have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the expectations are higher and more complete:

Love continually

show hospitality

Remember prisoners

honor marriage

don’t love money

be content  (Hebrews 13:1-5 ESV)

Jesus is the same, then and now. And, His expectation of us to live out our faith and trust in Him remains as it did for the people of Israel, although some of the commands are slightly adapted for a personal religion on a church community as opposed to the nation of Israel.

It is not for me to live as I please. Each day I am to take up my cross and follow Him. Gather people around you to pray for one another that we all may “have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18).

Dear God, thank you for communicating with love and clarity for thousands of years. Thank you for forgiving when I come to You, repentant of my failings. Help me again, today and every day to live with a clear conscience, acting honorably as You have instructed. May my life be pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Erin (6intow)

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Ezekiel 21-23; Hebrews 12; Psalms 111

My children all participated in races as fundraisers for their schools this week.  I have been watching them do this every year since kindergarten, with such determination and persistence.  Reminds me of “running the good race” of our faith as a daily challenge.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, ,looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

When a person puts their trust in Christ, they become a new creation and begin their race in this life.  They begin to learn who He is and why they need Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who practice it have a good understanding.  His praise endures forever!” (Psalms 111:10 ESV)

Lord,

Help us all to run a good race with our focus on You.  We have a long way to go until the finish line when we see You face to face.  Until then, let us endure with persistence.

Amen,

Kellie

 

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Ezekiel 17-20; Hebrews 11

Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. (Hebrews 11:4b, NLT)

Old Testament and New Testament, I read of choice and the repercussions of choice. Choices reveal where faith is rooted.

I read verses of reminders from the Lord, of who he is. He speaks so plainly (fervently, urgently):

30 “Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! 31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? 32 I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live! (Ezekiel 18:30-32, NLT)

Sin is death and always has been.

He is Truth and Love and Life. Forever.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation … 39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. (Hebrews 11:1-2, 39-40, NLT)

I sit with these scriptures today, all the examples of where faith is placed, Old Testament and New Testament. When I examine my heartache and frustrations, will they not also reveal where my faith is placed? Would the pain have been so much if I had seen the Lord’s hand in the circumstances? I can trust him for a better end.

Lord, thank you for not leaving me where I was but wanting life for me–a new heart and spirit. You are a good Father. I’m thankful for your faithfulness. You are trustworthy.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 14-16; Hebrews 10; Psalm 70

It seems like one step, then another, then another and sooner than later I can find myself lost in myself. I actually start believing that I made myself. I actual trust in me. That pride is the root of what destroys me. My forgetfulness to the fact that I was nothing when God found me and that my strength and giftedness was given to me by Him made me trust in the the blessing of God instead of in God HImself.

But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore[d] because of your renown and lavished your whorings[e] on any passerby; your beauty[f] became his. 16 You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be.[g] You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. And you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them. Also my bread that I gave you—I fed you with fine flour and oil and honey—you set before them for a pleasing aroma; and so it was, declares the Lord God. – Ezekiel 16:15-19  ESV

F.B.Meyer spoke of what my proper attitude should be.

“Let us not presume. We have nought of our own. When the temptation tries us to pride ourselves on our goodness; to arrogate to ourselves a special position because of our superiority to others; to assume that we can be independent of our immortal Lover—then let us remember what we were.”

That is why I am called to endure, it is my pivotal call to action when it comes to my walk with God. It is where the genuine difficulty of discipleship shows itself in my life.

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. – Hebrews 10:36 ESV

When I am faithful to serve, when I am faithful to Jesus, when I am faithful to hold on to His promises and when I am faithful to resist sin – I endure.

May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great! – Psalm 70:4  ESV 

AMEN

 

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Ezekiel 10-13; Hebrews 9

“I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile.  I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel again.’ “When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols.  And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them.  I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations.  Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:16-20 NLT

Lord is Sovereign. I am needing this reminder today and every day.

Only He is responsible for a changed heart. Am I letting him change mine?

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against all your magic charms, which you use to ensare my people like birds.  I will tear them from your arms, setting my people free like birds set free from a cage.  I will tear off the magic veils and save my people from your grasp.  They will no longer be your victims.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.  You have discouraged the righteous with your lies, but I didn’t want them to be sad.  And you have encouraged the wicked by promising them life, even though they continue in their sins.  Because of all this, you will no longer talk of seeing visions that you never saw, nor will you make predictions.  For I will rescue my people from your grasp.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 13:20-23 NLT

What am I letting control me? Who am I running to? My mind can be a trap for the enemy.  He knows where I am weak.  But, God is merciful and rescues me every time.  He never gets tired of when I come to him. This song from Cody Carnes comes to mind….”I run to the Father. I fall into grace. I’m done with the hiding. No reason to wait. My heart needs a surgeon. My soul needs a friend. So I’ll run to the Father. Again and again And again And again.”

“For by the power of the eternal spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.  That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them.  For Christ died to set then free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.” Hebrews 9:15&16 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your Holy Spirit. I want to be after your heart.  Give me eyes to see where I need to change.  Amen.

“He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:28 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Ezekiel 7-9; Hebrews 8

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”

Hebrews 8:13 NIV

I love new things….

  • A new journal
  • A new book
  • A new pen
  • A new dress
  • A new pair of shoes
  • A new year

What new things do you like?

The new covenant was put in place with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When I think about His sacrifice I am overwhelmed with gratitude. The old covenant was based on the law and obedience to the law.

As participants of the new covenant, what do we do with the old?

With my love for new things, I want to be able to walk away from the old. And yet… I cannot. I cannot walk away from the guidelines that God has laid down. I cannot forget what has come before the new…and I don’t think that’s what God is talking about in Hebrews.

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

The old covenant set the stage for the new. The old demonstrated our inability to do life on our own. The old pointed us directly to the new and specifically to Jesus. Therefore, we cannot get rid of it. I let it lead me to Jesus. I let it remind me of my dependence on Jesus. I let it remind me that I am no better than anyone else. The old covenant is a reminder of our equality before the Lord and our desperate need of His Grace and Mercy.

We don’t live in the old covenant because it is over…we live in the new. Live in the new, while remembering the work of the old.

How can you let the old point to the new?

Dear Lord, Thank you for new. For a new covenant, new starts, new beginnings, new hope, new life! Lord may the old remind us of the need for the new. May we be reminded of our need for you. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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