Author Archives: nborger2017

2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36; Psalm 126; 1 Peter 3

And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem and laid siege to it. And they built siegeworks all around it. 2 Kings 25:1 ESV

After many years of warning, God finally had enough and sent the Babylonians to punish Judah for their sin. Neuchadnezzar besieged and defeated Jerusalem, captured and blinded Zedekiah the king, carried the people into exile, pillaged, and burned the temple. All that remained were of the poorest of the land and the destroyed houses and temple. However, due to fear of the Chaldeans, even they fled Judah, leaving the land barren and empty.

He [Nebuchadnezzar] took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 ESV

Jeremiah’s prophecies were fulfilled and the people went into exile for refusing to listen to God’s commands. But that wasn’t the end of Israel’s story. After their seventy year punishment, God stirred up Cyrus, king of Persia’s, spirit to make a proclamation.

“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.’” 2 Chronicles 36:23 ESV

I imagine the people of Judah were overjoyed to hear Cyrus decree that they could return to their land and build the LORD’s a new temple. They were perhaps sorrowful as well, knowing that in their state they could never build a temple as magnificent as Solomon’s was. Maybe they thought upon Psalm 126 and rejoiced in the LORD’s mercy and love.

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126 ESV

I, too, an filled with joy due to God’s goodness.

Dear God, Thank You for Your mercy. Please help me obey Your ways and follow You. Thank You for doing great things for me. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Jeremiah 25, 35-36, 45; Psalm 133; James 3

“Go to the house of the Rechabites and speak with them and bring them to the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers; then offer them wine to drink.” Jeremiah 35:2 ESV

This command of the LORD to Jeremiah is at the beginning of Jeremiah 35. While it may seem like an odd request, the LORD was setting up a test to show Jeremiah and the people of Judah what true obedience looks like. God knew the Rechabites founder had commanded them to not drink wine, build houses, or plant seeds. When brought before into the house of the LORD and given wine, the Rechabites refuse to drink it, citing their forefather’s commandments. The Rechabites had only been told once to obey, but they followed wholeheartedly and won’t turn aside from their precepts.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father and kept all his precepts and done all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall never lack a man to stand before me.” Jeremiah 35:18b-19 ESV

The LORD celebrates the Rechabites convictions and their strict observance of their founder’s precepts. As a result of their dedication, He blesses them. The Rechabites obedience is contrasted with Judah’s repeated refusal to listen to God. While the Rechabites were told once and sincerely followed, the people of Judah would not listen to God’s instructions.

The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink no wine to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I have spoken to you [Judah] persistently, but you have not listened to me. The sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have kept the command that their father gave them, but this people has not obeyed me. Jeremiah 35:14,16 ESV

Judah’s refusal to obey the commands of God are put on display in Jeremiah 36. The LORD tells Jeremiah to write all the prophecies he had given against Judah on a scroll. The scroll made it’s way to the palace and to Judah’s king, Jehoiakim.

As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. Jeremiah 36:23 ESV

Jehoiakim’s reaction to a command is in stark contrast to the Rechabites. God brought the Rechabites to Jeremiah to show him what true and humble obedience looks like. While the Rechabites dutifully followed the commandments of their forefather, Jehoiakim shredded up the commandments and warnings he was given.

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:13, 16-17 ESV

James points to our conduct as an indicator of where our heart is and who we serve. Who we follow and serve can be discovered if our actions are watched. Like the Rechabites, I should be sincere and obedient to God, or anyone God has put over me. Let your good conduct point others to Christ and His love.

Dear God, Thank You for the example of the Rechabites obedience. Thank You for James’ practical wisdom. Please help me be obedient to those over me as You have called me to be. Help me to serve You wholeheartedly and fully. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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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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Isaiah 60-63; 2 Chronicles 1

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1,3 ESV

My reading today begins with some familiar verses from Isaiah. In fact, these verses are very similar to Matthew 5:14,16 when Jesus tells His followers, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” My life is to be a light to those in the dark, a declaration of God’s glory and power.

The Spirit of the LORD GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; Isaiah 61:1 ESV

God has appointed me to deliver His Good News to all people. He has sent me to help those in need and to comfort those who are mourning. However, there are times when I myself am in need of help and comforting.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV

In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul tells the Corinthians of the affliction Christians in Asia where experiencing. However, this suffering taught them not to rely on their own strength but to lean on God for strength and comfort. Paul states that God delivered them from the peril they where in and he trusted God to deliver them again. Like Paul, I too need to lean on Christ, not relying on my own strength but relying on Him.

The LORD has sworn by his right hand and by his might arm: “I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies and foreigners shall not drink your wine for which you have labored; but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the LORD, and those who gather it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.” Isaiah 62: 8-9 ESV

Sometimes it feels like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, a burden so heavy I cannot carry it alone. That is when I need to turn to God for help and ask for His strength and comfort. He will help me through my struggles, strength, and comfort me. He will not let me go.

Dear God, please help me call to You when I need strength instead of trying to do everything myself. Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to help me and for always caring for me. I want to love and trust you more LORD. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Isaiah 20-22; 1 Corinthians 2

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul reminds the Corinthians of how he preached the gospel to them.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 1 Corinthians 2:1 ESV

Paul didn’t use the standard Greek method of communicating ideas : complex rhetorical speeches and appeals. Instead, he decided to focus on Christ and the cross, guiding the people to trust in Christ rather than the wisdom of man.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 1 Corinthians 2:6-7 ESV

Back when Adam and Eve first sinned, God decreed that a Savior would be born that would crush Satan’s head. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection make it possible for me to draw near to God.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Chronicles 2:12-13, 16

Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus to save me from my sins. Please help me understand Your word and draw me closer to You. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Micah 5-7; Matthew 25

The chapters I read in Micah and Matthew seem to go together perfectly. Micah tells of a coming Messiah, judgment of the wicked, and redemption of the righteous. In Matthew, the Messiah has come and tells the disciples of the Final Judgment, when he will fulfill Micah’s prophetic words and judge all people.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2 ESV

Micah foretells of the Messiah, the One who is coming to save Israel. He declares that although Bethlehem is too small to be among the clans of Judah, it will produce Israel’s ruler. Jesus, Israel’s eternal king would come from the same town and lineage as David, just as the LORD had promised.

“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for my soul?” Micah 6:6-7 ESV

This passage offers some very interesting foreshadowing as Micah rhetorical asks what men must do before they can approach the LORD. Ultimately, he declares that God requires of man to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Him. God gave His firstborn for my transgression. I do not need to sacrifice animals or my firstfruits to the LORD made the ultimate sacrifice: His own Son.

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:18-19 ESV

Who is like you, O LORD?

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Matthew 25: 31-32 ESV

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells His disciples of the Final Judgment, when He will gather the nations and separate the righteous from the unrighteous. The righteous will inherit the Kingdom of God while the unrighteous will be cast into the eternal fire.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me… Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’ Matthew 25:34-36, 40 ESV

One of God’s major callings to Christians is to care for others. Jesus spent much of his time on earth caring for other people. Whether it was feeding them, teaching them, or healing them of their sicknesses, Jesus’ whole life was based around serving others, culminating in His death on the cross to ultimately save me from my sins. Just as Jesus had a kind and compassionate heart towards those around him, so I also should have a heart that looks to serve instead of be served.

Dear God, please give me a servant’s heart. Please help me care for those around me who need love and support. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

 

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Hosea 14; 2 Chronicles 26-27; Psalm 61; Matthew 20

2 Chronicles 26, like many chapters in 2 Chronicles, tells of a ruler from Israel or Judah. Chapter 26 chronicles the life of Uzziah, a king who began his reign at the young age of sixteen and ruled fifty two years. He followed the LORD and prospered, defeating the Philistines and growing strong. However, his strength would prove to be his downfall.

But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. 2 Chronicles 26:16 ESV

Uzziah, in his pride, took it upon himself to do what the LORD had commanded only His priests do. After Uzziah gets angry at the priests who try to stop him from dishonoring the LORD, he is struck with leprosy and is forced to live in a separate house for the rest of his life. Uzziah story is a chilling display of how pride can corrode a man. Indeed, many of Israel’s kings, including Saul, David, and Solomon, ended up bringing harm to themselves or others due to their pride.

In Matthew 20, the mother of the sons of Zebedee asks Jesus if her sons can sit next to Him in heaven. The other ten disciples are indignant when hear this. I’m sure that they, too, wanted seats of power next to Jesus.

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 ESV

Jesus’ response to pride and the desire for power is simple. It is the servants who will be the greatest and the slaves who are the first. Humility and a servant’s heart are the greatest weapons I have against pride. Pride destroys and benefits no one while serving others heals and strengthens. In Hosea, God tells Israel to forget their pride and sin and turn inside to Him for help.

I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon. Hosea 14: 4-5 ESV

Pride is an obstacle when seeking God. Inside of asking for His help or guidance, I can be tempted to do everything myself, without thinking of Him. There are many who desire power and wealth, in order to control others, strengthen their pride, or give them a greater self-worth.

“So the last will be first, and the first last.” Matthew 20: 16 ESV

It is the servant who is ultimately the greatest in God’s eyes. It is those who follow Jesus’ example, not coming to be served, but to serve. It is those who forsake their pride and follow Him. It is those who call to Him for help instead of depending on themselves.

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Psalm 61: 1-3 ESV

Dear God, please give me a humble heart. A heart that desires to serve instead of being served.  A heart that calls to You in times of trouble and in times of prosperity. Please keep pride far from me and strengthen my faith. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

 

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