Author Archives: nborger2017

2 Kings 11-12; 2 Chronicles 22-24; 1 Thessalonians 2

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2 ESV

Paul’s ministry was full of conflict. He lived a life full of suffering, danger, and uncertainty. However, despite all these tribulations, he still boldly declared the gospel to the Thessalonians. He wrote 1 Thessalonians as a letter of encouragement and he himself was encouraged by their open embracement of the gospel.

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 ESV

Even in the position of apostle, Paul and those who came with him had a humble attitude and refused to take advantage of the people of Thessalonica, opting to work instead. This work ethic helped them remain righteous in their actions towards the Thessalonians. Paul provides one great example of living like Christ by coming to serve and not be served. Instead of expecting the Thessalonians to care and serve him, he instead cared for himself while serving them by preaching the gospel.

We exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:12 ESV

Paul provides an example of how I should act towards other believers. Everyone needs exhortation and encouragement. One of the reasons for the Church is so believers and can build each other up and encourage one another through the gospel. One way I can also encourage people to walk in a manner worthy of God by following His commands. Paul worked to show the Thessalonians he was not just talking a big talk but living the gospel by serving others. Maintaining a servant’s heart is crucial to caring for others in Christ.

Dear God, Thank you for Your church and the encouragement and exhortation I can receive from other believers. Please help me to serve wholeheartedly like Paul and to be an encouragement to others in Christ. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Proverbs 20-23; Matthew 11

The first part of Matthew 11 tells of how John the Baptist’s disciples came to inquire if Jesus really was the Christ. Jesus had been going through towns teaching, preaching, and healing, while John had been imprisoned for criticizing Herod Antipas, the king of the area. John may have been experiencing some worry and doubt. His prison cell kept him from going and seeing for himself if Jesus was the one he had prophesied about. John’s disciples went to question Jesus, hoping to bring back news to John.

And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind received their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Matthew 11: 4-6 ESV

Jesus points to His signs and wonders as evidence that He is the Christ. He doesn’t rebuke John for asking the question, He simply tells John’s servants to report what they have seen: healing brought to the sick and the poor. Jesus’ power to heal not only displayed His compassion on the weak and broken, but also His divinity.

Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the might words done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Matthew 11:20-21 ESV

After making this statement to the crowds, Jesus speaks against the cities who turned a blind eye to Him and His message, stating that if he had done those same works in pagan, Gentile cities, he would have been greeted with great repentance. Instead, He was greeted with hardness of heart from people who refused to believe Him despite the wonders and healing he displayed. It can be dangerous for me to become to “accustom” to hearing about Christ and His power and no longer think deeply about it. Jesus’ power and grace should drive me to repentance and humbleness, not unrepentant complacency. He has offered comfort through the hardships of life to whoever takes up His offer. Even though, like John, I can go through periods of darkness and doubt, Jesus stays the same, offering comfort and peace throughout hardship.

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

Dear God, Thank You for Jesus. Thank You for Your compassion and mercy. Please help me never take Christ’s sacrifice for granted and to trust in You through hard times. I know you will protect and guide me. Thank You for giving me rest. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 3; Matthew 1; Psalm 97

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18 ESV

Matthew 1 begins the story of Jesus’ life on Earth. While it may seem that His story begins here, the genealogy at the beginning shows that this story started long ago when God promised Abraham that through him, all nations would be blessed. Matthew, and the other gospels, show firsthand how God fulfills His promises.

 …Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. Matthew 1:5-6 ESV

Many familiar names pop up throughout the genealogy. Rahab, although a prostitute in a foreign city, is a part of Jesus’ family line because of her faith in God. Although David was a poor shepherd’s boy, God chose him and his family line to rule of Israel forever. God chooses the unlikely for his rulers and royal family, those who are poor and outcast, instead of the powerful and prideful.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23 ESV

God keeps His promises. He kept his promise to David, and he kept his promise to Israel that was delivered by Isaiah hundreds of years prior. It was finally time for the long-awaited Messiah and King that had been promised by God since the Garden of Eden. The LORD is faithful.

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name! Psalm 97:12 ESV

Dear God, thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank you for fulfilling Your promise to send a Messiah to save me from my sins. Please help me be faithful and honoring towards you. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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2 Samuel 15-17; 2 Corinthians 5; Psalm 32, 71

And a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.” Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be no escape from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.”  2 Samuel 15:13-14 ESV

David transformation from majestic king to haunted refugee is sudden and unexpected. Through his manipulation and charisma, Absalom was able to convince his followers that he would be a better king than David. Men flocked to Absalom and David was forced to flee Jerusalem before him or face death.

But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” 2 Samuel 15: 30a, 31 ESV

David weeping ascent of the Mount of Olives seems to foreshadow the time when another King would weep there when faced with the rejection of His own people. Many of David’s close friends had deserted him, including his trusted councilor, Ahithophel. David knew that if the LORD did not intervene, Ahithophel’s wisdom would lead to Absalom’s victory. However, God had not forsaken David and Hushai was still on David’s side. David sent him to Jerusalem to attempt to counter Ahithophel.

“But my [Hushai’s] counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beersheba, as the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person.” 2 Samuel 17:11 ESV

Ahithophel advises Absalom to send him with twelve thousand men to overtake and destroy David. However, instead of just following Ahithophel’s advice, Absalom also asks Hushai what he should do. Hushai counters that David and his men are enraged and mighty warriors. He instead suggests that Absalom should gather a large army and deal with David himself.

Here is where we come to one of Absalom’s deadliest flaws, his vanity. David and his men were weak and tired. If Absalom had just sent Ahithophel, David would have been killed and Absalom’s throne secured. Hushai plan appealed to Absalom’s vanity. Instead of a twelve-thousand-men strike headed by an advisor, he suggested a magnificent force helmed by Absalom him to wipe out David and his mighty men. This plan buys David time, as gathering a great army would take a while. Ahithophel’s wise council is ignored by Absalom, who prefers Hushai’s plan instead. God protected David from harm through Hushai and Absalom’s own vanity would be his downfall.

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me! Psalm 71:1-2 ESV

Dear God, please protect and provide for me just like You protected and provided for David. Thank You for being a place in which I can take refuge. Please protect and guide me. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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1 Samuel 19-21; 1 Chronicles 7; 1 Corinthians 5; Psalm 59

And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David. 1 Samuel 19:1 ESV

Ever since David defeated Goliath, Saul’s jealously seems to grow worse and worse. After trying to figure out how to kill David a roundabout way (sending him to kill a hundred Philistines for example), in 1 Samuel 19 and 20, Saul makes several clear attempts on David’s life. He is clearly upset by Samuel’s statement that none of his sons would reign after him and instead of acting with humility, he acts in rage. Saul’s pride and aggression are exactly the reason why God decided to remove his line from the throne.

Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch him, that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, told him, “If you do not escape with your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” 1 Samuel 19:11 ESV

After another war with the Philistines which lead to more praise getting heaped on David, Saul sends messengers to ensure that David does not leave his house alive. He only narrowly escaped due to his wife, Michal, who helps him out the window. While David may have feared for his life, he trusted that God would protect him from Saul as is evident in the psalm he wrote about the ordeal.

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me; deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men. Psalm 59:1-2 ESV

Throughout this harrowing event, David’s eyes were on the LORD for deliverance. David had done nothing wrong, he was merely the victim of Saul’s pride. God’s blessings on David enraged Saul, who wanted to keep the throne for his own line, despite the wishes of God.

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. Psalm 59:16 ESV

One thing I love about the Psalms is how personal they can be. I love the fact that I can read the records of a situation David went through in one of the history books and then read his own personal reactions in the Psalms. While Saul’s burned up in bitter jealousy over David’s strengths, David turns to God, not his own personal strengths, as a source of refuge in a time of trouble.

 

Dear God, please help me turn to You in my times of distress for hope and deliverance. Please give me the strength to act with humility towards Your commandments and to obey Your Word. Thank you for the Psalms. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

 

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Ruth 1-2; Galatians 1; Psalms 53, 61

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16 ESV

At the beginning of the book of Ruth, both Ruth’s and her sister-in-law’s husband has died. Their mother-in-law Naomi begs them to return to their own people. Ruth, who is a Moabite, refuses and decides to go to Naomi’s people. This act of loyalty towards Naomi is clearly favored by the LORD, as Ruth is an ancestor of Christ Himself.

And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he (Boaz) be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Ruth 20a ESV

God’s blessings on Ruth are not all for the future, however. He sends Boaz, whom she will later marry, to ensure that she and her mother-in-law have enough food to eat. While their life may still be hard, Ruth and Naomi are still in God’s hands, and He is clearly looking out for them.

Paul, an apostle – not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-and all the brothers who are with me. Galatians 1:1-2a ESV

Like Ruth, Paul also experienced divine intervention in his life, albeit in a much more dramatic manner. In the opening of his letter to the Galatians, Paul makes it clear that God, not man, was responsible for the abrupt change of heart and his passion for Christ. After God completely changes Paul heart, he becomes one of the most vocal apostles, writing many of the New Testament letters.

Though both Ruth and Paul may have come from non-typical backgrounds (Ruth was a foreigner among God’s chosen people and Paul was a former persecutor of the church among the other apostles) God used them both to demonstrate His love and compassion for everyone, no matter where they were born, who they were born too, and what they previously did. Ruth and Paul show how far God’s love can reach and how welcoming He is to those outside of His family. He beckons everyone to come to Jesus for salvation and to take a seat at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Dear God, Thank You for sending Jesus to save us. Thank You for reaching out to outsiders and rebels and offering them the same salvation you offer everyone else. Thank You for forgiving our sins when we call to Christ for forgiveness. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Numbers 6-7; Acts 15; Psalm 22

I have read many of the laws the Israelites were commanded to follow over the past few days of this plan. The many laws and rituals involve sacrifices, clothing, vows; the list goes on and on. However, these laws become a subject of debate in Acts 15. Men from Judea got into a argument with Paul and Barnabas as to whether the new Gentile Christians had to follow the law of Moses.

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” Acts 15:6-11 ESV

It is faith in Christ, not the works I do, that will get me to heaven. The law of Moses debate was an important time for the early Church, who were just starting to accept Gentiles. However, the gospel message is for all and Peter knew that. The laws I have read in Leviticus and Numbers are like a crushing weight; they are impossible to fulfill fully and perfectly. That is the very reason Jesus came to die.

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:28-29 ESV

However, my new life in Christ does not give me the freedom to keep on sinning; instead it should push me to move closer to God and His commandments. Although I do not have to follow the traditional laws and rituals of Moses, I still need to follow God’s commands in my life. However, I will fail sometimes and nobody if perfect except for the LORD. Instead of sacrificing an animal whenever I sin, the perfect Lamb who pays for all my sins has already been sacrificed and is interceding on my behalf before God. Though I may be a great sinner, Christ is a great Savior and His blood paid for all my sins and fulfilled the law forever.

Dear God, Thank You for sending Christ. Please help me to follow Your words and commands as I know it pleases You. Thank You for Your grace and forgiveness for the times when I fail. Please help me to never loss sight of how precious a gift Your Sacrifice is. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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