Author Archives: nborger2017

Habakkuk 1-3; 1 Timothy 4

O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Habakkuk 1:2-3 ESV

Habakkuk opens with an almost Job-like situation. Habakkuk is complaining to God because he feels that God isn’t listening to him and doesn’t care about the problems he is facing. And, like in Job, God responses to Habakkuk, not in anger, but in explanation.

Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4 ESV

The LORD calls for faith during confusion or misunderstanding. While it is easy to get angry or upset about how my current situation can sometimes be, it is important for me to remember that I cannot see the whole picture while God can. I am to live by my faith even when it hurts or when things don’t make sense.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock b cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18 ESV

After hearing God’s message, Habakkuk prays a prayer of thankfulness and wonder in response. Habakkuk recognizes God’s power and strength and rests assured knowing that God has a plan, despite how bad the current situation may seem.

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV

Part of living by faith is training for godliness. Doing what God has commanded is hard in my current sinful nature and takes time and work. While physical training is important, it’s effects only last this life. Training in godliness, however, extends far beyond this life on Earth. It is important for me to follow God’s Word in my daily life and to pursue righteousness in everything that I do.

Dear God, Thank You for working everything together for my good even when I do not understand. Please help me walk in faith according to Your Word as You have commanded. Give me strength to follow You even when things are hard. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Isaiah 19-22; Romans 14

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him but not to quarrel over opinions. Romans 14:1 ESV

Romans 14 is a reminder for me not to pass judgement on others. Paul wrote this part of Romans to warn the Christians in Rome that arguing over opinions with the weak in faith will quickly tear them down rather than build them up. While God lays out laws we are to obey clearly, there are some areas of life where Christians act out of personal convictions rather then explicitly stated commands.

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Romans 14:2-3 ESV

Paul brings up an example of conviction. The weak believer believes he should only eat vegetables while the other believes all food is lawful. Instead of taking sides or getting into an argument, Paul states that all are welcomed by God and should be treated as family in Christ.

The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. Romans 14: 6b-7 ESV

All things should be done in honor of the Lord, whether it be acting in freedom under Christ, or acting in conviction under Christ. God seems to care more about whether I love Him and my neighbor than whether I eat meat or not. I should not judge or despise a brother or sister in Christ over a conviction because God has welcomed them, and I am called to love them as myself.

I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. Romans 14:14-15 ESV

While I am not bound to the convictions of others, it is important that I do not belittle them for theirs or force my own upon them. Walking in love with others includes thinking of them over yourself and doing what will strengthen their faith. I should be careful not to cause another to stumble by what I do, but instead seek to build them up in their faith.

Dear God, help me to love others as You have called me to. Please keep me from despising or judging others for their convictions but to instead welcome them as You have welcomed me. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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2 Kings 15-16; Hosea 1; Romans 4

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

In Romans Chapter 4, Paul uses Abraham repeatedly as an example of someone whose faith in God lead to fulfilled promises and a long-lasting legacy. Abraham’s faith was not without faulters or missteps, but he sought wholeheartedly to obey God and trust His promises. This faith would be counted to him as righteousness.

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. Romans 4:18-19 ESV

Abraham was faced with seemingly impossible promises. God said that Abraham’s children would be numbered like the stars in the sky before any of his them had even been born. Such a declaration would quickly be deemed impossible by my limited human observation of the situation, but God is not confined to what we see on the surface. While Abraham did not understand how God was going to bring this plan about, he trusted that he would, despite the seemingly impossible nature of this promise.

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 20-21 ESV

While Abraham may have only started with a small faith, it grew more and more as time went one. God fulfilled His promises to Abraham. He had a son, a family line, and a legacy. He not only had a physical legacy through his children and his children’s children, but he also left an exemplary model of faith.

That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the death Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Romans 22-25 ESV

Abraham’s faith still serves as am example to me, thousands of years later. Although I might not understand how everything is going to work out, I can trust God to care for me. Just like Abraham, my faith can be counted to me as righteousness before God.

Dear God, Thank You so much for sending Jesus to cover my sins. Please strengthen my faith in You and Your promises. Thank You for the examples of faith in the Bible that show me how to follow you. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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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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