Author Archives: Rebecca

Jeremiah 50-51; 2 Peter 3

Jeremiah 50 and 51 proclaim woeful ruin and the winnowing destruction of Babylon. So great, that Jeremiah instructs at the end of 51:

61 And Jeremiah said to Seraiah: “When you come to Babylon, see that you read all these words, 62 and say, ‘O Lord, you have said concerning this place that you will cut it off, so that nothing shall dwell in it, neither man nor beast, and it shall be desolate forever.’ 63 When you finish reading this book, tie a stone to it and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates,64 and say, ‘Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her, and they shall become exhausted.’” 51 ESV

Yet, like an oasis in the middle of grievous ruin and righteous vengeance: Jeremiah 50:20

20 In those days and in that time, declares the Lord, iniquity shall be sought in Israel, and there shall be none, and sin in Judah, and none shall be found, for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.

And I stop short. I ponder… what would it be for one to search for iniquity and there be none? No sin. None found. An oasis of peace; of life; of pardon.

I Peter 3 (The Day of the Lord Will Come) also details the coming vengeance of the Lord; a sound warning; a telling of destruction:

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn. But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be dililgent to be found by him without spot of blemish, and at peace. (2 Peter 3: 11-14 ESV)

And the words “at peace” catch hold of me. What means this peace in relation to me? An oasis of pardon in my life? at peace held in the cross of Christ and His resurrection life? I ponder the peace I find in that small section in Jeremiah: the peace of no sin; no iniquity- and this is one wildly glorious aspect of life in Jesus… that one day we will be free from the body of this death. And free from sin and iniquity.

1 Peter 3 also reminds that the Lord’s timetable is not my timetable.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3: 8-10 ESV

I realize I do not want to be exposed. What will remain? What gold tried in the fire? I know it is all grace, and I find myself small before Him.

Lord, you are coming, and the enemy wants Your people (me) blind, confused, and deadened. Your Word exhorts that we are to be holy and blameless. Lord, there is no power within me to produce holiness. I need Your Spirit; I need Your grace. Have mercy on me, a sinner. Under the mercy and in the grace of the cross, Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

And just a wee bit of fellowship here (as a P.S. from me to you):

This song- from this album- speaking to me today (and tonight). I pray it speaks to you, too. It is all yours, O God. And without you, I can do nothing.  This week I had a desperate experience- where I had to just give it up and surrender. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. And as I leaned into God- I leaned into His arms. Literally. And I found Him there. I found myself. He undertook- and in Him- it was so. He carried me through. And in my life- I realize I need to find myself saying again, again: “It is yours, Lord. Do what You will.” And, I need the reminder. I need to lay it down. All down. God be praised.  Let my life be more than smoke and lights!! I will tell you: I found peace in that moment of helpless surrender.

 

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Jeremiah 8-10; 2 Corinthians 11

2 Corinthians 11 is the middle in a trio of chapters in which Paul uses boasting as a powerful device to compel, persuade, exhort, convince his listeners. In faith; in life; he testimony resounds.

And my heart is amazed. What man, this Paul.

16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would[a] but as a fool. 18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. ESV

 

But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,[b] in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? ESV

 

And then…

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. ESV

 

Jeremiah chapters 8-10 proclaim woe, devastation, loss… and the lost. God’s people- lost.

 And this reminder, proclamation, call:

Jeremiah 9

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” ESV

It is easy, so easy, to value so many things; for my heart to lift many things higher than understanding and knowing the Lord. I ponder what my life would look like if I carefully assessed every area to align it with this ultimate goal. Do I see understanding and knowing the Lord as a priceless treasure- that- if nothing else could ever be said about my life- it could be said that I understood and knew the Lord? That I was an image bearer of His steadfast love, justice, and righteousness through my life?

It is (relatively) easy for me to pose the rhetorical questions to myself and ponder. But what will I do in and out of my (often) very long days? How can I recoup my vigor and intellect? I know the Lord finds me in my smallness. He is as present with me in the sometime weariness as He is in the moment of study and prayer. I pray I find His reality in the every moment of every day- when I am weak and small; when I am strong and sound.

Jeremiah 10

23 I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
24 Correct me, O Lord, but in justice;
not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing. ESV

 

Lord, I pray that I would be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. Thank you for Paul who lived and loved with such anointed, brilliant passion for You. Direct my steps, O Lord. I am small before You. Amen

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Isaiah 41-44; 1 Corinthians 12

We took our oldest son to college a week ago. It was a glorious, heart-wrenching day. A full day, with comforts for body and soul at every turn… student volunteers whisking luggage and belongings up to dorm rooms faster than I could say “thank you” and tantalizing food for the body from morn to night. Cheering students and welcome committees. Balloons and festive t-shirts. Finally, a candlelight ceremony designed to help all find peace in the past, be present in the moment, and hope in and for the future. Designed to cup all in hush and beauty. Space for joy and grief. Holy ground.

This candlelight service was declared as the first in book-end services: one at freshman orientation and the next- four years from now- at graduation/convocation. I found myself informed. New traditions. New ceremonies. New significance.

But I am left, unsettled. Navigating a new world.

Isaiah 42

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged[d]
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law. ESV

Jesus. Bringer of Justice. Tender Chosen One who endures. I sense His inexorable commitment. Unwavering, yet gentle, leader.

Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
“I am the Lord; I have called you[e] in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
    to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.” ESV

All the passages in Isaiah- familiar ones to me. College memories (my own) so near at hand as our own dear one steps into his new place, space, and season.

Yet, still, everything feels new and untethered to me in this season.

As my son stretches out to navigate new waters, form new relationships, and hopefully make deep, God-ordained connections- the Scriptures quicken memories. “I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations.” I remember a song of worship that we used to sing at Lehigh during Large Group (Inter -varsity)… and a google search brings me right to it. Sadly, with no music- but the lyrics! And I realize that it was actually written by the Inter-varsity leaders on our campus… and the date is 1997. I can feel the passionate pulse of my twenty- year old heart for Jesus. I remember the Spirit and the praise.

O, the memories. O, the time of life for this son of my heart.

“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare;”  ESV

“New things” was a theme in that candlelight worship service I mentioned above. And “new things” is a theme in my life- right now, in so many ways. I struggle to find my footing.

Isaiah 43

Thus says the Lord,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 “Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21     the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise. ESV

But God will make a way.

Everything is to “declare God’s praise.”  The Lord speaks to my heart: I am to perceive the new thing springing forth in the wilderness. I am to remember that the Lord gives water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert; sweet, refreshing drink to his chosen- and all of this section (41-44) of Isaiah so boldly, directly declares the passionate, personal focus/care of the Lord toward His people- whom He so clearly prizes and treasures

… Isaiah 43:21 reminds me I am formed for Him. And all, so that with everything in me, I can declare His praise.

1 Corinthians 12

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. ESV

1 Corinthians 12 presents the church as the body; a unified whole unable to function without each, significant part. And I need the reminder: again, again- to be who I am. To be fully who I, alone, am. I struggle to value my part. This chapter reminds me that God values my part; indeed, each part is essential. I pray I gain the courage to live fully into my purpose in the body.

Lord, only You can sort out all the untethered thoughts and emotions. You are the Rock; and You are Peace. I pray You guide me in this wilderness place I find myself. I pray for my son with a cry unutterable that only the Spirit can interpret and convey. Help me to find myself at peace in You; and joyful in Your calling. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 17; Psalm 66; I Corinthians 7

Live as You Are Called

17 Only let each person lead the life[c] that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant[d] when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers,[e] in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. 1 Corinthians 7 ESV

Sometimes I strive against the constraints of my circumstances. Sometimes, I want desperately to change them. But the Lord has assigned a life to me. And it is entirely in Him, that the shape, trajectory, and horizon of that life is held. I need to learn to stop striving. Cease. Remain with God.

I need to treasure my freedom as a bondservant of Christ. I pray I be at peace in the circumstances I continually find myself.

66 Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
    sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.” Psalm 66 ESV

The earth worships the Lord. Creation sings. I feel; I hear the song… when I let myself pause. And my whole self sighs; I shrug cares away… everything is singing  His Name. Whether I recognize it; whether I am in tune with it; whether I am present enough to sing, too. It matters not. “All the earth worships You….”

Ahaz’s Idolatry

22 In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the Lord—this same King Ahaz. 23 For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel.  2 Chronicles 28 ESV emphasis mine

Times of distress come upon us all. Which way will I run? Into the arms of the Lord? Or into faithlessness? Scripture warns. Faithlessness and pursuit of false gods….leads to the ruin of all. Death, destruction, despair, darkness. 2 Chronicles 28 and 2 Kings 17 illustrate this clearly. 

Lord, help me live for You. I need a fresh infusion of grace and the life-giving conviction that flows from Your Spirit. Help me not run to false gods when I am in distress, but instead run to You. I pray You help my life sing praises to You.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Amos 7-9; Matthew 15

Amos  7

Hear this, you who trample on the needy
and bring the poor of the land to an end,
saying, “When will the new moon be over,
that we may sell grain?
And the Sabbath,
that we may offer wheat for sale,
that we may make the ephah small and the shekel[e] great
and deal deceitfully with false balances,
that we may buy the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals
and sell the chaff of the wheat?” ESV

The Lord desires (requires) integrity.

Matthew 15:

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” ESV

The Lord cares (always) about the heart.

d] 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” ESV

The tendency to focus on the external as a guideline for the heart is always present; it is the heart that should inform the external.

27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.[e]  ESV

Bold perseverance makes a way.

33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. ESV

Jesus provides more than enough. He calls the disciples to obedient faith and then multiplies their provision for all.

11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord,
but they shall not find it. ESV

The straining experience of  physical “famine” harasses the flesh. It is a looming specter. Lord reminds me that a more desperate famine is one “of hearing the words of the Lord.”  I do not want to wander and run- seeking the Word of the Lord- unable to find it. The famine of the soul is the most devastating of all.

Lord, keep my heart close to You. Revive me from the inside out.  You call me beyond the finite realm to Your miraculous possibilities. Show me Your ways and have mercy on me. Amen

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2 Kings 2:4-6; Matthew 5

–God—who is  More Than Enough—

2 Kings 2: 4 slices close … leaving this vulnerable heart

exposed;

the desperation and the terror of the woman pulses through the first paragraph:

Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” ESV emphasis mine

Yet-  in her desperation- faith rises- she cried to Elisha.  He responds:

 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” ESV

What do you have in the house?….nothing but a jar of oil.

And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” ESV

She went into a “secret” place; a private place (shut the door behind yourself)- and she poured from her jar- into all the jars they gathered in obedience.

And God provided and delivered.

The Lord can take the small capacity of my oil and multiply it again and again; above and beyond.  I ponder what this oil is in my life. Different thoughts surface for me.

What surfaces for you?

Another thought swirls for me:

What do I have in the (this) house?

There is a circumstance in my life that sometimes leads me to what feels like the very edge of desperation. The pressure wipes memories from my mind and tightens vessels in my body. It presses on my chest with a weight that can flatten me to the bed, to the chair, to the floor; flatten the life out of me.

This chapter:

The servant’s husband was dead; a man who served the Lord. The creditor is coming to take her two children as slaves; the family that remains in the wake of her husband’s death. My heart roils with her grief and despair; this vulnerable woman.

(Again)

So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” ESV emphasis mine

Sometimes I despise the small things… the “vessel of oil” that is mine in my life. The Lord reminds me that He is fully able to take that small thing and multiply it into a full, bounty of provision.

Lord, help me consecrate my oil unto You. Let me live in obedience to You. May I see and experience the bounty of Your provision. Increase my faith to ask of You and to take any needed actions/steps. You do all things well. Amen.

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Ecclesiastes 10,11,12; 2 Timothy 4

19 Bread is made for laughter,
and wine gladdens life,
and money answers everything.  Ecc 10 ESV

Recently, I met a friend I have treasured for over twenty years for coffee. And we sat together- and crammed as much life possible -into two and a half hours of sharing. The theme of many of our talks over a long stretch of years has related to money, career, children, provision… “and money answers everything.” My sweet friend has struggled to find her place as a godly, intentional wife and mother alongside the need for financial provision and her passion to utilize God given giftings and abilities. This Word rises for me. Would she be more at peace if the need to work was less about money and more about purpose and calling? Only the Lord knows. Financial need is a justifier of many things. I know this full well. Financial “success” would certainly remove that part of the equation. Money can smooth the way of life, ease the crease of care, lift the burden of the heart. Grant (a sometimes false and sometimes true) sense of peace and security. I thought of my friend and our talks. Struggles shared. Desires longed for. Peace needed. Real fear and uncertainty. I thought of long talks down a corridor of years. “Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything.” And Bread is also made for nutrients, and wine can be medicinal, and money doesn’t answer everything. It can’t save the soul. I pray for my friend, and I pray for me: that God would grant wisdom, direction, and provision. Grateful that He knows the core of the soul. He sees through all.

20 Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king,
nor in your bedroom curse the rich,
for a bird of the air will carry your voice,
or some winged creature tell the matter Ecc 10 ESV

I have been living a dream come true. A dream that is comprised of coffee, Todd, and his voice reading a short devotion in the morning. It has only been a few days, and I only pray the sweetness continues- But, in one of these devotions there was a focus on sinful strongholds. Patterns of the flesh; attitudes of the mind that are quick to rise up in moments of weakness and times of pressure. And then an assurance that the Holy Spirit is available to offer true and full victory in overcoming such strongholds in the life of a believer. I had opportunity to realize that I had entertained false skeptical thoughts recently. And I recognized that this is one of my strongholds and tendencies: Suspicion and skepticism. Thoughts that are not the clear, pure flowing stream they should be. I need to be in the Spirit and in truth even to the uttermost of all of my thoughts. And the victory is in Jesus. Nothing is hidden. Lord, let everything hidden be pure and true.

Lord, help me walk with You and rest in You. Let Your Word be life and truth in me. Be with my friend and show Yourself strong on her behalf. You are the lifter of her head. You are the lifter of mine.

Vanity[b] of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. Ecc 12 ESV.

Let all that is not vanity remain, O God. Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

 

 

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