Monthly Archives: September 2018

Jeremiah 8-10; 2 Corinthians 11

2 Corinthians 11 is the middle in a trio of chapters in which Paul uses boasting as a powerful device to compel, persuade, exhort, convince his listeners. In faith; in life; he testimony resounds.

And my heart is amazed. What man, this Paul.

16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would[a] but as a fool. 18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. ESV

 

But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,[b] in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? ESV

 

And then…

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. ESV

 

Jeremiah chapters 8-10 proclaim woe, devastation, loss… and the lost. God’s people- lost.

 And this reminder, proclamation, call:

Jeremiah 9

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” ESV

It is easy, so easy, to value so many things; for my heart to lift many things higher than understanding and knowing the Lord. I ponder what my life would look like if I carefully assessed every area to align it with this ultimate goal. Do I see understanding and knowing the Lord as a priceless treasure- that- if nothing else could ever be said about my life- it could be said that I understood and knew the Lord? That I was an image bearer of His steadfast love, justice, and righteousness through my life?

It is (relatively) easy for me to pose the rhetorical questions to myself and ponder. But what will I do in and out of my (often) very long days? How can I recoup my vigor and intellect? I know the Lord finds me in my smallness. He is as present with me in the sometime weariness as He is in the moment of study and prayer. I pray I find His reality in the every moment of every day- when I am weak and small; when I am strong and sound.

Jeremiah 10

23 I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
24 Correct me, O Lord, but in justice;
not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing. ESV

 

Lord, I pray that I would be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. Thank you for Paul who lived and loved with such anointed, brilliant passion for You. Direct my steps, O Lord. I am small before You. Amen

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Jeremiah 5-7; Psalm 75; 2 Corinthians 10

22 Have you no respect for me?
    Why don’t you tremble in my presence? (Jeremiah 5:22, NLT)

These verses in Jeremiah (5-7) are to God’s people who have once again turned away from him, in their pride they follow their own way. They reject him, and live like he doesn’t exist. He calls them foolish, senseless people with eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear. It’s a warning.

23 But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
    They have turned away and abandoned me.
24 They do not say from the heart,
    ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
    assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’
25 Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings.
    Your sin has robbed you of all these good things. (Jeremiah 5:23-25, NLT)

It has been a wet season in Maryland, so much so that I have a hard time trusting when the sun peeks out that it could ever stay. I read that verse about rain each spring and fall, and I pause here: assuring us of a harvest when the time is right. And I think I sometimes wonder if I can trust in the harvest. Forgive me, Father.

In seasons of hardship, loss and grief, I have found closeness and comfort in the Lord. When I draw near to him, he is there, and I learn that this is where I want to be. Abiding in him. He is the wonderful blessing.

16 This is what the Lord says:
“Stop at the crossroads and look around.
    Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.
Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.
    But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ (Jeremiah 6:16, NLT)

I seek him and his kingdom. I stand on a path and look around–is this where you want me, Lord? Is this where you are calling me to go? When I feel weary and uncertain, I find myself wondering if I believe in the harvest, if I trust it will ever come. Sometimes the road doesn’t look the way I imagined, and I find myself unsure if I heard right. I bring him my fears and my doubts. I am learning to cast my cares upon him. To pray boldly.

Lord, I know that you are sovereign. Forgive me when I hesitate. Forgive me when I’m afraid. Forgive me when I’m downright resistant. I find myself in a new season and it’s not familiar. Help me to get my bearings, to discern the godly way, and to walk in it and not look back.

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 1-4; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 9

I love the promises that God gives us – promises to protect, and keep us safe.

I promise to be with you and keep you safe, so don’t be afraid. – Jeremiah 1:8  CEV

Those were what I counted on in the newness of my relationship with Him.  I needed those to survive, to transition, to be changed by the Holy Spirit to become what He purposed me to be.

When you were my young bride,
you loved me
and followed me
through the barren desert. – Jeremiah 2:2  CEV

Somewhere along the way, there are those friends of mine who have found that the narrow path has lost its flavour.  The joys of this world, the pleasures, somehow made us forget that God was blessings us. We forgot that these things were not for us to absorb and keep, but to give away to others who had less than we did. Unfortunately, I have met many of these individuals personally.  I wish I could say that in my desire to disciple them back into a relationship with God, I could not.  Their story is very much like the world Jeremiah was speaking of.

Your shoes are worn out,
and your throat is parched
from running here and there
to worship foreign gods.
“Stop!” I shouted,
but you replied, “No!
I love those gods too much.” You are so clever
at finding lovers
that you could give lessons
to a prostitute. You have more gods
than a prostitute has lovers. You act like a prostitute
when you try to win back your lovers. – Jeremiah 2:25,33;3:1;4:30  CEV

I was taught in my first year of ministry that one of the best ways to avoid the temptation of pleasure was to give.

God loves people who love to give. – 2 Corinthians 9:7  CEV

While my walk with God is crazy, I can see one very common, reappearing theme in my life – I have always given what I have, away.  I know that it is not my salvation, but I also know that pleasure will not take me off the narrow path – I just do not give it a chance.  Will my friends ever find their way back to God? Yes, I will be praying for them as will others. When God steps in and grabs their attention, then those that love them will walk alongside of them.  The Lord, who never leaves us or forsakes us, will be there alongside too.

The Lord will save you
from all of your sins. – Psalm 130:8  CEV

Father, it must hurt You so much when we deliberate leave the palm of Your hand and go elsewhere to find whatever it is that we think we need or want. Forgive me for even thinking of it sometimes. Keep my feet steady, may I always find that my trust is in You alone. Walk with my friends who are struggling so much.  They need You. Thank You.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

 

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Zephaniah, Psalms 74; 2 Corinthians 8

“Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia.  They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor.  But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.  For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more.  And they did it of their own free will.  They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift of the believers in Jerusalem.  They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-3 NLT

I can learn a lot from the churches in Macedonia…

They had abundant joy.

They gave themselves to the Lord first.

They had a strong faith.

They were not focused on what they were lacking, but what they could give.

“I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.  Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving.  Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly.  And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. ” 2 Corinthians 8: 7-13 NLT

How many times have I felt lead to give and than I talk myself out of it? I make a mental list of all the reasons why I shouldn’t.  I give in to my fears and my eagerness fades. But, when I have followed through, my heart is fuller.  I am more grateful for all he has given me. He doesn’t hold back, so why should I?  I am reminded that my treasure truly is in Heaven.  I am reminded that it is all his.

“You, O God, are my king from ages past, bringing salvation to the earth.  You split the sea by your strength and smashed the heads of the sea monsters. You caused the springs and streams to gush forth, and you dried up rivers that never run dry.  Both day and night belong to you; you made the starlight and the sun.  You set the boundaries of the earth, and you made both summer and winter.” Psalms 74:12-17 NLT

Thank you Father for how you pour out your love on me.  Thank you for your faithfulness and provision.  Help me to live with open hands to others.  Give me wisdom and discernment where needed.  I pray that my eyes would be open to those around me who are in need of a touch from you.  That I would be willing to be inconvenienced when it would be easier to turn the other way. Amen.

“For the Lord your God is living among you.  He is a mighty savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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Habakkuk; 2 Corinthians 7

We come across a shorter book in the Bible and a dilemma that even we in this day and age may find hard to comprehend. Habakkuk is a prophet pleading to God for a revival to take place in Judah. And God’s answer is that He will send an invading army even more evil that Judah to bring about that restoration. Habakkuk can’t get his mind around that idea. God even states, “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told (1:5 [NIV]).” Then God shows him that even this invading hoard will be destroyed, but Judah will return to God through all of this.

There is a promise to those who stay faithful in all this carnage. In Habakkuk’s prayer we read the following, “1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. 2 LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy (3:1&2 [NIV]).”

Look at the outline below of this very interesting, challenging and short Minor Prophet.

Outline

  1. Title (1:1)
  2. Habakkuk’s First Complaint: Why does the evil in Judah go unpunished? (1:2-4)
  3. God’s Answer: The Babylonians will punish Judah (1:5-11)
  4. Habakkuk’s Second Complaint: How can a just God use wicked Babylonia to punish a people more righteous than themselves? (1:12;2:1)
  5. God’s Answer: Babylonia will be punished, and faith will be rewarded (2:2-20)
  6. Habakkuk’s Prayer: After asking for manifestations of God’s wrath and mercy (as he has seen in the past), he closes with a confession of trust and joy in God (ch. 3)

What are the applications for us? I see several:

  • When we pray for something we need to be ready to have our view of God’s ways stretched. We may find His promises and truths on their heads when it comes to conventional wisdom.
  • Restoration may come with a price. God’s winnowing ministry can hurt as much as destroy, but as Habakkuk prays, mercy is found in judgement as well.
  • God still amazes us in our prayers. We are too many times like the prayer meeting for Peter. When their prayers were answered they didn’t believe it. How are you in that category. I can some times be like those prayer warriors in the first century.

Through restoration and judgement we see God in a new and amazing way. Let’s hold on to that for sure.

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2 Chronicles 34-35; 2 Corinthians 6

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 2 Chronicles 34:1-2 ESV

2 Chronicles 34-35 tells the story of Josiah, the young king who trusted God. In the eighth year of his reign he started seeking God, and by the twelfth year he started to rid his land of idols. After he had cleaned the land of idols, he sent workers to repair the LORD’s temple. While they where repairing it, the High Priest discovered the Book of the Law of the LORD and brought it to Josiah.

And when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes. 2 Chronicles 34:19 ESV

Josiah expresses immense grief upon discovering that the extent at which Judah had departed from God. Because he humbled himself before the LORD, God promises him that the disaster upon Judah would not come during his lifetime. Josiah’s humbleness and sorrow showed that he was truly sorry about how far Judah had departed from the LORD, and God clearly treasured that. After hearing the Word of the LORD, Josiah gathering the people together and to read the Book of the Covenant. Josiah then held the greatest Passover celebration in Israel since the days of Samuel.

Josiah’s faith and humility is a model I look up too. It is clear that Josiah loved God and was brokenhearted when he discovered how far Judah true had wandered from God. I pray God makes me more like Josiah, heartbroken when God’s Word isn’t kept but an ardent celebrator of His Truth.

We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labor, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 2 Corinthians 6:4-7 ESV

Dear God, please make me like Josiah, with a humble and contrite spirit towards Your Words. Please help me persevere through afflictions and follow You and Your ways. Thank You for sending Jesus, because I could never be good enough to please You on my own. Thank You for Your Word. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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2 Kings 22-23; Psalm 73; 2 Corinthians 5

A friend from high school shared a photo with me of the two of us at her seventeenth birthday party. We were so young. We looked so happy. I have zero memory of the occasion. Nothing was familiar. Not even the shirt on my back.

“I wonder what those seventeen-year-olds would think of us now!” she mused. But I was less concerned with how that version of me would view my life today, as I was at (desperately) wishing I could have somehow prepared that young heart for what was ahead. Queue the song, Dear Younger Me.

Josiah was eight when he became king, and every time I read “He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right. (2 Kings 22:2, NLT),” I smile.

He tore down and burned all the shrines, temples and buildings that stood for wickedness. The Bible reads, “25 Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since. (2 Kings 23:25, NLT)” After Josiah dies, his sons rise up.

31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. 32 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestors had done. 2 Kings 23:31-32, NLT

36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother was Zebidah, the daughter of Pedaiah from Rumah. 37 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestors had done. 2 Kings 23:36-37, NLT

I looked at that face of a younger self and grieved for her. For the generational sin around her. At the sin-laden legacy offered by example. I want to tell her, “Help is on the way.” Thank you, God, for your work in my life.

Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:14-17, NLT)

Thank you, God, for new life. Thank you, God, that I can know you and live for you. Thank you for reaching into strongholds and generations to rescue and resurrect.

17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
    and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
    and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19 In an instant they are destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors.
20 When you arise, O Lord,
    you will laugh at their silly ideas
    as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.

21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
    and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
    I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
    but God remains the strength of my heart;
    he is mine forever.

27 Those who desert him will perish,
    for you destroy those who abandon you.
28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
    and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do. Psalm 73:17-28, NLT

Courtney (66books365)

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