Author Archives: nborger2017

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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Exodus 38; John 17; Proverbs 14; Philippians 1

“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:14-17 ESV

Before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus prays to God the Father to protect His disciples after He is no longer with them in-person. Jesus clearly states in His prayer that His followers will be hated and ostracized just like He was. This is one of the hard truths of true Christianity: it is not the popular choice and will not result in the world’s love and support. The ways of the flesh are at war with the ways of the Spirit and the flesh does not give in, or decide to coexist with, the Spirit. Jesus asks God not to take His disciples into heaven yet, as they still have work to do on this earth. Instead, He prays for protection for them and for strength as they face the hatred of the world because they follow the truth.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent,  I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear I still have. Philippians 1:27-30 ESV

Paul reflects Jesus’ statement of the world’s hatred in his letter to the Philippians, urging them to stand firm in the faith and to suffer for Christ’s sake. Paul knew what discipleship cost and wholeheartedly believed that his portion in Christ was worth the suffering he faced on earth from followers of the flesh. Paul’s call to stand firm goes out to all believers. It is important for me to remember that the approval and love of the world is worthless compared to a relationship with Christ and that everything on this earth is temporary and fleeting. It is easy to run from the world’s hatred and to try to fit into its standards, but Jesus is clear, His disciples are not of this world and if they follow Him, they will not be accepted in it.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21 ESV

Jesus’ prayer was not only for His immediate disciples, but for all who follow Him. It is important for me to live a life that reflects the gospel and shows God to others, not pursuing the empty love of the world. It is comforting that Jesus prayed for my protection from Satan and that His love and grace are sufficient for me. Instead of the world’s love, I have something much greater.

 

Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus to save me from my sins. Please help me to pursue you wholeheartedly, ignoring the pulls and temptations of the world. Give me strength and peace to endure through the trials of my life. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

 

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Genesis 18; Matthew 17; Nehemiah 7; Acts 17

The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” Genesis 18:13-14 ESV

Genesis is the beginning of a lot of promises in the Bible. One of the first and biggest is God’s promise to Abraham that all the nations of the world would be blessed through his offspring. Even though Abraham and Sarah showed incredible amounts of faith in God and obeyed His commands, they still struggled with doubt despite His promises. In their doubt, however, God reminds them of His power. Even if things seem impossible, God’s answer to Sarah’s doubt holds true for me as well. If God has a plan, it will work out, no matter the opposition or how far-fetched it seems.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Acts 17:24-25 ESV

Paul’s address towards the men of Athens emphasizes God’s power. God is completely non-dependent on mankind and would continue to be the Eternal God even if man did not exist. Since God gives life everything it needs, He also has complete control over it and directs it how He pleases. God’s control is reflected in both His statements to Abraham and in Paul’s statements about Him. Oftentimes when I feel doubt, I am simply looking at the sizes of the obstacles rather than the power of God. Though it can be hard to reminder, God is clear that He is with me through trials and struggles and that He has a plan and a purpose for my life.

Dear God, Thank You for providing for me throughout my life. Please give me greater faith and help me to trust in You throughout the hard times and trials of my life. Thank You for sending Your Son to take away the weight of my sin and allow me to be considered righteous. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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