Author Archives: nborger2017

1 Chronicles 21; 1 Peter 2; Jonah 4; Luke 9

So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.” But Joab said, “May the LORD add to his people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?” 1 Chronicles 21:2-3

1 Chronicles 21 begins with David sinning against the LORD by taking a census of Israel. This census stemmed from David’s pride and military ambitions and was not according to God’s command. Jesus dealt with His own disciples’ pride in Luke 9 when an argument arises among them over who is the greatest.

But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” Luke 9: 47-48

Jesus shows the disciples the opposite of pride: childlike humility and servitude.  Instead of being prideful, I should instead serve others with humility, thinking of others over myself.

David had to deal with the consequences of his sin, as God sent a terrible pestilence on Israel, killing many Israelites.

And God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, the LORD saw, and he relented from the calamity. And he said to the angel who was working destruction, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” 1 Chronicles 21: 15-15b

Even though the Lord punished David and his people, He stops His angel from destroying Jerusalem, mercifully sparing all the people of Jerusalem from His wrath.

God’s mercy shines through again in Jonah, as he sends the prophet to warn the Ninevites of their upcoming destruction if they continued their current path. The Ninevites repented and Jonah was furious at God for not destroying them. God responds, however,

And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Jonah 4:11

God asks Jonah why He should not pity Nineveh and offer mercy and a chance to repent. Jesus found Himself in a similar situation with His own disciples when He was not received in Samaria.

And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he [Jesus] turned and rebuked them. Luke 9: 54-55

Dear God, thank You for Your abundant mercy and grace upon me. Help me to have a heart of humility and servitude instead of pride and to thank You for Your grace. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

From the archives. Originally published November 25, 2017.

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1 Samuel 4; Romans 4; Jeremiah 42; Psalm 18

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3 ESV

Romans 4 is a beautiful declaration by Paul of justification through faith that primarily uses Abraham to show how God counts faith in Him as righteousness. I could never fulfill the law completely as the Lord requires, but through Christ, God made a way for me to come through faith before him. I walk in the same footsteps as Abraham, trusting God at His Word and following Him through faith, even when I don’t understand where God is leading. Abraham had so many reasons to doubt, but he continued to follow God wherever He led and God’s promises came true: Through Christ, all the nations of the world have been blessed with the opportunity for a relationship with the Lord and eternal life. It can be so easy for me to get caught up in an ocean of doubts and forget that Jesus is still there to give me strength and guide me in my walk of faith. 

For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? – the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. Psalm 18:31-33 ESV

Psalm 18 rejoices in the Lord and His deliverance. David declares his dependence on God and tells of how the Lord rescued and strengthened him in many trials. David states that many of his enemies were too mighty for him, but through God’s help, he was able to prevail. Like Abraham, David put his faith in God and trusted that He would guide and protect him. Psalms like this one are an encouragement for me to look to God as my steadfast rock during challenging times instead of to myself or to others. Having faith in God means trusting Him to work things out for my good, which isn’t always the way I want or plan things to work out. God ultimately knows what is best for me and will guide me there while I only have a limited sight. Through faith, God forgives me for my unrighteousness and guides me in His way and to His truth.

Dear God, thank You for leading me to Your Truth and Gospel. Please draw me closer to you and grow my faith. Please help me surrender to Your will, even when I don’t understand. Thank You for sending Jesus so that I am able to draw near to You. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Joshua 5-6:5; Psalm 132-134; Isaiah 65; Matthew 13

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. Matthew 13:1-2 ESV

Matthew 13 contains many of Jesus’ parables, along with His purpose in using them. Jesus explains what these stories actually meant to His close followers, people who had devoted themselves to Him and His teachings. In this part of His ministry, Jesus often spoke to very large crowds, who were often confused about Jesus’ true purpose on earth and were simply looking for an earthly king to fix their problems, not an eternal one to fix their hearts. The parables in this chapter focus mainly on the kingdom of heaven, which contrasts with the desire of many for an earthly king.

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:31-33 ESV

In these parables, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to two very small things, a mustard seed and leaven. Both are hidden in an immense amount of another substance, only to grow massively and change the space around them. These parables show the transformative power of the Gospel and how God can use even the smallest and weakest person to spread His kingdom to everyone around. Jesus uses these images to show how the kingdom of God and the Gospel can be delivered in ways no one would ever expect, but with an incredible amount of potency and ability to change lives.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-46 ESV

In these two parables, Jesus discusses the value of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus makes it clear throughout His ministry that the kingdom of heaven is worth every sacrifice that must be made for it. These words are especially important for me, as the world loudly proclaims and pushes things that try to satisfy the need for Christ and the kingdom. Making sacrifices is hard, but Jesus points to the value of the treasure and how everything that is sacrificed far pales in comparison.. If I focus on the kingdom of God and set my mind on His ways, it can help me understand how discomfort and hurt now will all be made worth it when I enter God’s kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is truly worth giving up anything and everything on this earth, because all that is on earth will pass away, but the God’s kingdom stands for eternity and will never pale or fade.  

Dear God, thank You for providing me a way to access Your kingdom. Please help me be like the mustard seed and the leaven, spreading Your kingdom throughout all the areas of my life. Please help me to truly value Your kingdom and to pursue it as my top priority. Thank You for Your grace and love. In Your Holy Name, Amen. 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

 

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Deuteronomy 9; Psalm 92,93; Isaiah 37; Revelation 7

Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Deuteronomy 9:5 ESV

The first chapters of Deuteronomy consist of Moses speaking to the people of Israel before they prepare to cross into the land that God had promised them from the days of Abraham. While Moses gave many instructions to the people, he also gave a fair amount of warnings to the people about obeying the LORD and His laws. This specific statement stood out to me as I read as it addresses a crucial issue that is still relevant today, self-righteousness. It is so easy for me to look down at others and their sin while failing to realize that I am just as unrighteous in God’s eyes. Even though I am saved by grace through Christ, I still am very far from perfect and need God’s forgiveness for sins I commit, whether intentionally or unintentionally every day. This passage also shows the faithfulness of God, as He clearly dedicates Himself to fulfilling the promise He made to the forefathers of Israel despite their many failings.

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. Psalm 92:12-15 ESV

In contrast to my unrighteousness and self-righteous is God Himself, who alone is perfect in all that He does. This psalm declares both the faithfulness of God towards those who trust and follow Him and how the LORD is not only righteous, but able to declare those who follow Him to be righteous as well. It is so important for me to realize that God not only strengthens me to act in a righteous manner but is my source of righteousness through Christ because none of my works could ever come close to fulfilling what is required of me to be blameless.

“Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” Isaiah 37:33-35 ESV

In yet another passage, the righteousness and faithfulness of God is put on full display, this time to King Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem who were facing a siege by the Assyrians. Though the Assyrians threatened the people and belittled God, God’s deliverance of Israel serves as yet another example of His faithfulness and as a defense of His righteousness against the scorn of Israel’s enemies. In times of trouble and doubt, it is crucial that I turn to God and ask for His deliverance instead of trying to use my own strength to find a way to solve a problem.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, form every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:9-12 ESV

I feel like this is one of the most powerful scenes in the entire book of Revelations. All of God’s saints, who have been sanctified through His blood and have taken on His righteousness are able to give Him the praise He truly deserves, and they worship before His throne. This multitude is without count and from all over the globe, truly showing the unity of the church as the living body of Christ in the world. Only God can wash me white as snow and cloth me in righteousness so I too can stand before His throne and worship.

Dear God, thank You for Your faithfulness despite my many failings. Please continue to sanctify me and draw me closer to You throughout my life. Thank You for Your sacrifice so that I can even draw near to You. Please continue to strengthen my faith and my trust in You Lord. In Your Holy Name, Amen. 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Numbers 31; Psalm 75,76; Isaiah 23; 1 John 1

We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds. Psalm 75:1 ESV

Psalm 75 and 76 are both psalms that praise and give thanks to God for both his character and his powerful and wonderful ways. They are reminders to me of how important it is to both thank God for His deeds and to recount them to remind myself of how great He truly is. Throughout the psalms, psalmists often tell of God’s mighty work in their lives and of how He established them and defeated opposition. In times of struggle and suffering, setting my eyes upon the Lord’s works in my life can give me a correct perspective on my life and a heart that is closer to God’s own.

Glorious are you, more majestic than the mountains of prey. The stouthearted were stripped of their spoil; they sank into sleep; all the men of war were unable to use their hands. At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both rider and horse lay stunned. Psalm 76:4-6 ESV

The psalmist declares God’s power and sovereignty over all the events in his life. There is none who can stand against the Lord and all who try are surely defeated. While there are often many opportunities to tell or sing of God’s overarching works and power, I sometimes overlook reflecting on His power in my own life. Psalms were sometimes very personal to the writer and reflected the Lord’s work in their own lives. One step I can take towards strengthening my faith and drawing closer to God is to praise Him for all that He has done for me and how far His has brought me, through both the easy times and the hard ones.

Dear God, thank You for all that You have done in my life. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sins so that I can draw near to You. Please give me a thankful heart that looks for all the good things You have done for me. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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