Author Archives: nborger2017

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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Exodus 9-11; Luke 19

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me.’” Exodus 9:1 ESV

Exodus 9 begins with a warning of a fifth plague upon Egypt, which comes to pass after Pharaoh hardens his heart yet again. It is followed by four more plagues, each ending only to be followed by Pharaoh stubbornly refusing to let the Hebrews go and worship God. Pharaoh’s obstinacy was destroying his land and hurting his people, but he was still too proud to obey God’s commands.

Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not understand that Egypt is ruined?” Exodus 10:7 ESV

Pharaoh did not represent all the Egyptians. Many of them were tired of his refusal to follow God and the destruction it brought upon their country. In fact, God gave the Egyptians who humbled themselves before His Word the opportunity to save their belongings.

“‘“Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.”’” Then whoever feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses. Exodus 9:19-20 ESV

God did not punish those who feared Him and told Moses to warn them of the impeding hail. This entire episode almost seems to reflect the Redemption Story as the God-fearing Egyptians who believe God and act in faith are saved while those who refuse to believe God’s words face destruction. God’s mercy on those who trust in him is again reflected in the story of Zacchaeus, a dishonest tax collector who came to hear Jesus’ preaching. After Jesus comes to Zacchaeus’ house, he repents of his sins.

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:9 ESV

While many judged Jesus for going to the house of a tax collector and a sinner, Jesus states clearly that His purpose on earth was to seek after those who are lost, including the Gentiles, social outcasts, and the disabled.

And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” Luke 19:45-46

Jesus’ cleansing of the temple is probably one of the most dramatic moments of His ministry as He overturns tables and drives the salesmen out of the Court of Gentiles. The Court of Gentiles itself was suppose to be a place where the foreigners could come and worship the LORD as they were not allowed further into the temple, however, Jesus entered, He found it overrun with salesmen hoping to make a quick buck due to the Passover being close at hand. He was dismayed that the place where the outsiders came to worship God was instead crowded with those who only cared about making money. The cleansing of the temple foreshadows the moment when the veil of the temple is torn and when Paul is told the preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Jesus was making a way for those who sought God to approach Him. Those who seek Him will find Him.

And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes were seeking to destroy him, but they did no find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words. Luke 19:47-48 ESV

Dear God, Thank You for making a way for sinners to come before Your throne. Please help me follow Your Words and obey Your commands. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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December 21. Job 21-23; Psalm 101; Revelation 16

In Job 21, I read of Job’s next attempt to defend himself against his three friends. While his friends keep telling him that the sinner suffers and the righteous always prosper. Job argues back that the wicked do prosper, despite sinning.

“Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? Their offspring are established in their presence and their descendants before their eyes.” Job 21:7-8 ESV

Job voices a question that sometimes rings in the head of myself and many other believers I am sure. Why does God allow the wicked to prosper? This response from Job tears his friends’ “solution” to the problem of his suffering to pieces. While his friends try to make everything into a black-and-white “those who sin are immediately punished but those who are righteous immediately prosper” case, Job understands that things go deeper than that while still questioning why God allows the wicked to live fulfilling lives.

Then Job answered and said: “Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.” Job 22:1-4 ESV

In Job’s next response, he declares that he wishes he could appear before God Himself and bring his problems and pain forward. Job did nothing to deserve his suffering and he wishes he could implore upon God’s justice and ask why he was being punished and not the wicked. I, too, have felt the same. I longing to ask God to bring justice and to help the innocent.

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me, yet I am not silenced because of the darkness, nor because thick darkness covers my face.” Job 23:10,16-17 ESV

Job ultimately resolves that God knows what is best for his life and that he will continue to trust Him. Job’s faith has gone through a lot due to his sudden misfortune and the arguments of his friends, however, it is still strong and Job refuses to curse God in the midst of his pain.

Dear God, Please give me strength to trust in you like Job. Help me to trust in you through my struggles. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Nehemiah 4-6; Psalm 98; Revelation 6

Nehemiah 3-4 chronicle the ardent opposition from outside forces, forces that did not want Israel to finish the wall or repair the temple. However, in chapter 5, Nehemiah reveals that not only were they facing an outside threat, but also trouble inside their own city. Many of the people were upset with their brethren due to high interest rates that forced them to live in poverty and sell their children as slaves. Nehemiah was very angry when he heard of this and demanded a meeting.

So I [Nehemiah] said, “The thing you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest” Nehemiah 5:9-10 ESV

Nehemiah closely follows God’s command to care for your brother or neighbor as yourself, telling the loaners that they were not treating their brothers fairly. There are many injustices in this world, and while it may seem futile to even attempt to fix a problem, I can always help by love those around me and doing my best to assist them.

His [God’s] right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The LORD has made known his salvation he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. And the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Psalm 98:2-3 ESV

Not only has did God send Jesus to die for my sins, but also for the sins of all those around me. Every human being has worth in the eyes of God and He wants the news of Christ’s death and resurrection spread to the ends of the earth.

Dear God, Please help me care for others and have compassion on them. Help me spread Your Good News to others and live my life as an example of servanthood. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sins. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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