Monthly Archives: November 2021

Psalm 94; Zechariah 12-14; 2 John

Waiting.  Most of the time, it’s not something we enjoy.  We have come to expect, in our instant society, that waiting is unnecessary and couldn’t possibly be good.  Psalm 94 was written by someone who had also grown weary of waiting.  Israel was being oppressed with no end in sight.  Circumstances were bleak as God’s people waited for Him to act on their behalf.   

Yet, despite oppression and persecution, the author of Psalm 94 waited expectantly.  His hope was in God, and he knew that the dark days of waiting would, one day, end in justice.

For the Lord will not forsake his people;
    he will not abandon his heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous,
    and all the upright in heart will follow it.
Psalm 94:14-15, ESV

We are just beginning Advent, the yearly season of expectant waiting and preparation for the coming of Jesus.  During this season, we anticipate and prepare for many good things—gifts, visiting relatives, cherished traditions.  But all too often, in the midst of the parties and presents and tinsel and togetherness, we forget how dark the world would be without Immanuel. We have no eager anticipation for our Savior.  We prepare to give the perfect gifts but fail to prepare our hearts to receive the greatest gift of all. 

This year, I want to wait expectantly.  I want to pause and consider the sin-filled darkness that burst forth with the Light of the World.  I want to consider the utter hopelessness that was banished by the one true Hope.  I want to place many “the cares of my heart” at the feet of Immanuel, God with us, and expect that He will “cheer my soul” (v 19).  I want to look back and remember the birth of Christ while looking forward to His glorious appearing.   I want to be intentional in my waiting.  Like the Psalmist, I want to wait with hope, remembering that waiting is good and necessary.  This year, I want to wait well.

The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon
the likes of which we have never seen before.
So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder.
There will be time enough for running.
Jan Richardson

Jen

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Zechariah 9-11; 1 John 5

Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
it is the Lord who makes the storm clouds.
He gives showers of rain to men,
and plants of the field to everyone.
The idols speak deceitfully,
diviners see visions that lie;
they tell dreams that are false,
they give comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wander like sheep
oppressed for lack of a shepherd.

“My anger burns against the shepherds,
and I will punish the leaders;
for the Lord Almighty will care
for his flock, the people of Judah,
and make them like a proud horse in battle. (Zech. 10:1-3) NIV

As I ponder verses in the Bible, it often occurs to me there really is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). Zechariah is so descriptive of what is happening in our own time in history. So many have turned from the Lord and are wandering aimlessly through life. They live as exiles from God and others. We are created for connection, and often out of hurt or desperation make bad choices in that area. Without God, we can easily become lost sheep. We have an enemy that rules this world and wants to keep us separated from the Truth. He wants nothing more than to “shepherd” us as far away from God as possible. The world promises hope and comfort but really what we receive is despair and bondage. That is not how God wants us to live.

These verses tell us that we are to seek God’s provision for our lives and believe Him—not the idols or false prophets of our time. God alone is the one we can trust and believe.  He will guide us and will not lead us astray. The idols, or things of this world, lie to us and confuse us. Like sheep, we are prone to wander. We keep looking and looking for the true Shepherd.

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River[b] to the ends of the earth. (Zech. 9:9-10) NIV

He can be found, this Shepherd, and we as believers are His flock, His people, and He will care for us. God promised us a deliverer long before Jesus came to earth and we find hints (a.k.a prophecies) all throughout the Old Testament. Even with these prophecies, he did not come in the way anyone expected. God had a different plan—a much better way. These verses are especially meaningful as we have recently celebrated Thanksgiving and are rapidly approaching Christmas. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter—all holidays meant to praise and honor our Almighty LORD and be grateful for his plan to bring us to Himself. Let’s celebrate our righteous and victorious King!

Lord, I know how easy it is to be distracted and led away from you. Please help me keep my focus on you through a heart of gratitude, through humble service, and love for others. Your Son showed me how to do that. May I continue to study the Word, who is your Son, and live as He lived.  In His name I pray. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

From the archives. Originally published November 27, 2018.

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Zechariah 6-8; 1 John 4

How many times has God told me what to do, and I did not follow what He said?  To be honest, even I, do not know the answer to that question.  Only God knows.  And that is sad, just as I find it sad to read again about God sending another prophet to warn them and they turned a deaf ear. God called them out on making their man-made “fast” months, that had nothing to do with Him, and eating and drinking only to please themselves. (Zech.7:5-6) Or as I understand it to be…living life without God’s interference.

The only thing God ever wanted was for them to stand out and be different from the rest of the world.  He wanted them to execute true justice, show mercy and compassion, every man to his brother, to not oppress the widow, orphan, sojourner or poor.  And for none of them to contemplate evil deeds in their heart towards his brother. (Zech. 8-10) It might not have been easy, but what if each individual got it right 80% of the time?  It still would be a much better atmosphere to live in.  What if I got it right 80% of the time, and every other person who follows God got it right 80% of the time? Would the atmosphere be different to live in today?  I think it would!  It is the same as when God asks of us to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Where did I get off course? When did I, just like Israel, start living only to please me? 

So once again God sent a prophet to the people warning of their behavior.  Did they say or do anything different this time?  Sadly not!

Zechariah 7:11 (MEV): But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder, and stopped their ears so that they should not hear.  They made their hearts like a diamond so as not to hear the instruction and words that the Lord of Hosts sent by His Spirit through the former prophets, and there was great anger from the Lord of Hosts.

Therefore, it happened that as I called, and they would not hear, so they called and I would not hear, says the Lord of Hosts. So, I scattered them among all the nations whom they did not know, so the land was left desolate behind them with no one coming or going.  And they made a desirable land desolate.

Can you see them sticking their fingers in their ears?  I can.  It seems so childish, but what it showed was, that they made a choice not to follow God’s ways, and nothing was going to change their mind.  But it also meant that when they needed help, they were on their own, because God would not interfere with their choices. It is the same with me.  I’d like to think that I am different, somewhat better than them.  But the truth is, by doing so, I am judging them, something God specifically said to leave up to Him. I pray that God will change my heart! The once called “Promised Land” was now empty and desolate. Is my heart desolate? Or, is it full? That is a choice I need to make second by second.

But God doesn’t give up on Jerusalem, and He doesn’t give up on me.  One day Jerusalem will be called a city of faithfulness and the mountain of the Lord.  Will I be called faithful too?

In that day, older men and women will sit in the streets of Jerusalem.  Boys and girls will once again play in open places without fear. There will be peace in the land, and it will produce crops, and the trees will produce fruit.  The rain will fall from heaven. But it gets even better! He will bring them from the nations they were scattered to, and they will be for Me as a people, and I will be for them as God, with faithfulness and righteousness. (Zech. 8:4-8) Finally, Hallelujah!

Zechariah 8:13-17 (MEV): And, as you have been like a curse among the nations, O house of Israel and house of Judah, I will deliver you, and you will be a blessing.  Fear not, and strengthen your hands! Thus says the Lord of Hosts; Just as I had determined to punish you when your fathers incited Me to wrath, says the Lord of Hosts, I did not relent.  So again, have I purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.  Do not fear!

These are the things you will do:  Speak truth each to his neighbor, and make judgments in your gates that are for truth, and justice, and peace.  Let none of you consider evil plans in your heart against your neighbor, and do not love false oaths, for I hate all these things, says the Lord.

God never changes.  Nor does his desires for how we love Him, how we live, and how we treat one another.

One day His temple will be rebuilt.  He will draw ten men from every language of the nations and they will take hold of the garment of the Jew, saying “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you”. (Zech. 8:23) How special it will be for Gentiles and Jews working together for one purpose because they know God is there.  Unity is a powerful thing.  Do I draw people to God because they can see that God is with me? 

So, love what brings truth and peace. (Zech. 9:19d)

1 John 4, talks a lot about love.  Verse 18 says “that there is no fear in love and perfect love casts out fear because fear has to do with punishment.’  The only one who loves this way is God.  Only He can be perfect.  But, it is something we can strive for. God loved us so much that He sent Jesus in the flesh. Scripture tells us that if we believe this, we are children of God and if we don’t, we are not. 

Also, if we believe Jesus came from God, in the flesh, then God gives us His Spirit. John 4:1 says not to believe every spirit, for all are not from God. But only believe in the spirit that says Jesus has come in the flesh.  That spirit is of God. And, the Spirit of God gives us power to do things we couldn’t do on our own.

1 John 4:4 (MEV): You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Rest in that, and love one another with a Godly type of love.

Father God, I pray for Holy boldness for everyone reading this, including me! Boldness to love one another as You have loved us! We may not always feel like it, or understand why we have to, but help us to do it anyway, because we are Your children!  Thank you for Jesus, thank you for the Spirit and please give us the discernment so that we do not follow the wrong spirit, but only the one that leads us to You. Let it be so Lord!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!

Carol (carolvorwe)

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Zechariah 2-5; Psalm 93; 1 John 3

I love the idea of moving forward in my journey of faith with a balanced spiritual growth. Unity is one of those crucial success milestones that is expressed when I have love for others.

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another, unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered[j] his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him?

Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action. – 1 John 3:11-18 HCSB

If loving others were only as easy as giving a hug then I would excel in love. Love is a bit more difficult than that, there is continual effort and hard work because it is about putting the other person ahead of myself – that is where the battle lies. My default is not to love. This is why John is exhorting me to love the family of God.

John must have gone through this transformation – from one of the Sons of Thunder to the Apostle of Love. Love characterized his life and love was his prevailing message.

In fact, the church father, Jerome, said that when the apostle John was in his extreme old age, he was so weak that he had to be carried into church meetings. At the end of the meeting he would be helped to his feet to give a word of exhortation to the church. Invariably, he would repeat, “Little children, let us love one another.” The disciples began to grow weary of the same words every time, and they finally asked him why he always said the same thing over and over. He replied, “Because it is the Lord’s commandment, and if this only is done, it is enough.”

John did not originate the idea of loving others – love originated with God and it was uttered through the lips of Jesus.

Father, this gets really messy in real life. It requires an incredible amount of spiritual maturity. It requires me to have the wisdom of God, the mind of Christ, in all matters. I want that, I want to be the man you need me to be and I ask the Holy Spirit to do the work I need done. I choose to grow in my walk with You. Thank you.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Haggai; Zechariah 1; Psalm 138; 1 John 2

I remember 2 Chronicles 7:14 so well – it’s been drilled into my life through so many different kinds of prayer meetings. What a surprise to find the same message in Haggai this morning. When God is not a priority – it matters to Him!  I find myself meditating on His challenge.

Think about what I have said! – Haggai 1:7  CEV

While I might have been challenged this morning, it matters nothing unless I heed it.  What I love about God is that His grace was extended to me like He allows does.

The Lord’s answer was kind and comforting. – Zechariah 1:13  CEV

So what does that mean in my life today.  What can I expect?  Turning to the Lord, making Him my priority, gives me amazing blessings – love, protection, safety, kindness.

I worship at your holy temple and praise you for your love and your faithfulness.  You were true to your word and made yourself more famous than ever before.  Though you are above us all, and you keep a close watch on everyone who is proud.  I am surrounded by trouble, but you protect me against my angry enemies.  With your own powerful arm you keep me safe. You, Lord, will always treat me with kindness. Your love never fails. You have made us what we are. Don’t give up on us now!  – Psalm 138: 2, 6-8  CEV

Quite a journey this morning – repentance, Lord responds with grace, embraces me with blessings – how do I respond to that kind of cherishing?  A different kind of challenge ends my morning devotion.  God has called me to love Him, to have close friends who do the same, love others and in all of this, I cannot even give a small room in my heart to love the world.

We truly love God only when we obey him as we should, and then we know that we belong to him. My dear friends, I am not writing to give you a new commandment. It is the same one that you were first given, and it is the message you heard. But if we love others, we are in the light, and we don’t cause problems for them.  Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. – 1 John 2:5,7,10,15

Lord, this morning You are speaking right into my heart. As much as You have challenged me, You have made me come alive as I realize that I feel so connected with You. I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me the courage to be the follower of You that You have called me to be.  I do not want to live the life of a bored Christian.  May those I connect with see the passion in my life that You have put there.  Thank you for challenging me to make You a priority. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

From the archives. Originally published November 21, 2018.

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