Category Archives: Bible in a year reading plan

Ezekiel 27-30; James 1

James 1:9 tells us to “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation,…”

Some may interpret this Scripture as a political sentiment leaning to the left – saying something like this: the poor will be given the wealth that the rich will have to give up.  However, James does not indicate in this passage that this is so. In fact, the profit of the lowly (poor) brother is one of perseverance through experiencing difficult circumstances which has the effect of perfecting his character and faith (thus, exaltation). The same effect is wrought for the rich brother who can glory (count it all joy) when he learns through experience that his pursuits for money and his wealth will fade away, thus teaching him he should always trust in the Lord, not himself or his money.

To be sure, if you are poor you are looking for a way to get what you need and want. Then again, if you are rich you are looking for ways to get more of what you need and want. What is different for each of them, then? The difference is not between the desires of the rich and the poor but between the man who trusts in the Lord and the one who does not. Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

There are many other such passages of Scripture that assure us that God cares for us and is with us in our time of need or plenty (Matthew 6:33, for example). There are just as many that speak about learning contentment in all circumstances (I Timothy 6:6-10 outlines godliness with contentment). So how does a Christian gain contentment at all times? The first rule of thumb is to remember in whose hands we are held. Jeremiah was given the task to remind God’s chosen people of this truth. In Jeremiah 18:1-6, [The Lord told Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s house.]  “The potter was making something at the wheel, and the vessel that he made was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the Lord said, “

‘…can I not do with you as this potter?’”

Now, I’ve never made pottery, but I am fascinated watching the potter work with clay and water, using his hands to build a base and shape an object, making adjustments or even starting over when the product collapses or tilts to the wrong side.  As long as the clay is wet and pliable, the potter continues to form and smooth the vessel until satisfied with the finished design. What an illustration of how God with expertise, patience, and purpose fashions us from the elements of this world into His chosen vessels capable of holding His Spirit to pour out His blessings.

Yes, it is hard to declare that there is purpose in going through trials when one is poor, and it even harder to say that a rich man should lose everything in order to learn godly contentment. (Hey, I’m just the messenger!) As Jeremiah lamented, “O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed,” Jeremiah 20:7 Yet, I, too am persuaded by this message that we all, rich or poor, should not trust in man but must trust only in the Lord our God.

Janet

From the archives. Originally published October 5, 2015.

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Ezekiel 24-26; Hebrews 13

then you will know that I am the Lord God (Ez 24:24 ESV)

they will know that I am the Lord (Ez 24:27 ESV)

Then you will know that I am the Lord. (Ez 25:5b ESV)

Then you will know that I am the Lord. (Ez 25:7 ESV)

(and on, and on)

God makes His commands clear, along with judgements for disobedience and blessings for obedience.

Israel, and other nations, live however they please.

God judges.

Then, they know that He is the Lord.

He has standards. He defines truth, goodness, justice, right and wrong. And, He holds us to those expectations.

As the New Testament roles along and we now have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the expectations are higher and more complete:

Love continually

show hospitality

Remember prisoners

honor marriage

don’t love money

be content  (Hebrews 13:1-5 ESV)

Jesus is the same, then and now. And, His expectation of us to live out our faith and trust in Him remains as it did for the people of Israel, although some of the commands are slightly adapted for a personal religion on a church community as opposed to the nation of Israel.

It is not for me to live as I please. Each day I am to take up my cross and follow Him. Gather people around you to pray for one another that we all may “have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18).

Dear God, thank you for communicating with love and clarity for thousands of years. Thank you for forgiving when I come to You, repentant of my failings. Help me again, today and every day to live with a clear conscience, acting honorably as You have instructed. May my life be pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Erin (6intow)

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Ezekiel 14-16; Hebrews 10; Psalm 70

It seems like one step, then another, then another and sooner than later I can find myself lost in myself. I actually start believing that I made myself. I actual trust in me. That pride is the root of what destroys me. My forgetfulness to the fact that I was nothing when God found me and that my strength and giftedness was given to me by Him made me trust in the the blessing of God instead of in God HImself.

But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore[d] because of your renown and lavished your whorings[e] on any passerby; your beauty[f] became his. 16 You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be.[g] You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. And you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them. Also my bread that I gave you—I fed you with fine flour and oil and honey—you set before them for a pleasing aroma; and so it was, declares the Lord God. – Ezekiel 16:15-19  ESV

F.B.Meyer spoke of what my proper attitude should be.

“Let us not presume. We have nought of our own. When the temptation tries us to pride ourselves on our goodness; to arrogate to ourselves a special position because of our superiority to others; to assume that we can be independent of our immortal Lover—then let us remember what we were.”

That is why I am called to endure, it is my pivotal call to action when it comes to my walk with God. It is where the genuine difficulty of discipleship shows itself in my life.

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. – Hebrews 10:36 ESV

When I am faithful to serve, when I am faithful to Jesus, when I am faithful to hold on to His promises and when I am faithful to resist sin – I endure.

May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great! – Psalm 70:4  ESV 

AMEN

 

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Ezekiel 1-2; Hebrews 6; Psalms 143, 144

The imagery in these scriptures stirs something in me. A call. A confirmation. An encouragement. A reminder. A focus.

Stand up, son of man,” said the voice. “I want to speak with you.” The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet. I listened carefully to his words. “Son of man,” he said, “I am sending you […] 6 Son of man, do not fear them or their words. Don’t be afraid even though their threats surround you like nettles and briers and stinging scorpions. Do not be dismayed by their dark scowls, even though they are rebels. You must give them my messages whether they listen or not. But they won’t listen, for they are completely rebellious! Son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not join them in their rebellion. Open your mouth, and eat what I give you.” (Ezekiel 2:1-3a, 6-8, NLT, emphasis added)

An enemy knows how to distract me, to take my focus off the Kingdom and busy it with fruitless concerns. God’s Word resets my focus (He stands me on my feet, a Father who is always willing and ready to provide guidance.).

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding … We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. 10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. 11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. (Hebrews 6:1a, 9b-12, NLT, emphasis added)

I think on His promises, and gasp at this image–hope guides:

18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. (Hebrews 6:18-19, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, this time in Your Word is precious to me.

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
    for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
    for I give myself to you.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord;
    I run to you to hide me.
10 Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
    on a firm footing
. (Psalm 143:8-10, NLT, emphasis added)

You go before me. You prepare tables for me. You prepare works in advance for me to do. Certainly You will equip me.

Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
    He trains my hands for war
    and gives my fingers skill for battle.
He is my loving ally and my fortress,
    my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him. (Psalm 144:1-2, NLT, emphasis added)

Rock, loving ally, fortress, safety, rescuer, shield, Father. I praise you!

Courtney (66books365)

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Hebrews 1; Psalms 67, 118

In Hebrews, I read of the Father’s love for the Son.

I read of His delight, generosity, pride and affirmation.

I read in Psalms of His love, and it is faithful and enduring.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever (Psalm 118:1, NLT).

I thank you, Lord, for your goodness, your faithfulness, your trustworthiness. When I read about your attributes, my heart finds safety and security.

I got a package in the mail yesterday from a friend who has a special way of showering joy like confetti upon her friends. Inside were gifts that she knew would delight–soft things, lovely things, cozy things, tied in bright pink ribbons. Even the mailing label sported her colorful, festive, telling way of celebrating people in her life.

When I opened God’s Word this week and looked over the scriptures for today, I saw love. I saw love on every page. And I saw the writers’ response of gratitude and praise in return. He is so very worth celebrating.

Father, you show me how to love and live. You model delight and joy and generosity. You model faithfulness and perseverance and unchanging, stable grace. I open your word and my heart finds your embrace. I am so grateful. Thank you for loving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 21, 24, 27

I have thought of God as my lucky charm a few times in my life. It was no surprise for me to see King Zedekiah turning in his chips to claim the lucky charm from God when the Babylonians were approaching.

“Inquire of the Lord for us, for Nebuchadnezzar[a] king of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the Lord will deal with us according to all his wonderful deeds and will make him withdraw from us.” – Jeremiah 21:2  ESV

While it did not work for King Zedekiah, and unfortunately, his sin made the people of Israel suffer, God made a promise and it is a promise that I have taken for myself.  My key promise of them all – God’s eyes will be on me and so His favour also.

I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. – Jeremiah 24:6-7  ESV

Today, I read that a promise is an obedience to the instructions that God gives. In this case He is telling King Zedekiah to humble himself and take the yoke of the Babylonians for that is the only way the people of Israel will be able to stay and keep the land that God had given them. So the promise was – take the yoke and live.

But if any nation or kingdom will not serve this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, declares the Lord, until I have consumed it by his hand. – Jeremiah 27:8  ESV

At times I am called to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and when I do, God will walk with me – that is a promise I can live with.

Father, I thank You that Your eyes are on me with favour. I thank You that You have a purpose for my life. As I walk this life, I can count on Your promise to walk with me always. I love that You have given promises that You have always kept. Thank you.

Erwin (evanlaar)

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Jeremiah 23, 25, 26; Titus 3

I have lived in this home for eight years. While I couldn’t tell you the exact reason or date that I forgot to get the trash cans to the curb, I can say that a neighbor noticed the break in my routine one week and called to check on me.

My kids and I have delivered goodies and cards on Christmas and Valentine’s Day to our nearest neighbors for many years. The year my dad died, his funeral was in early February, and I couldn’t get my head around baking cookies for our neighbors for Valentine’s Day–so much in my world was changing. I went to the mailbox one day to find a (gluten-free!) baking mix from a neighbor and a card that spoke love to me. She acknowledged how I cared for others and wanted to care for me. (She didn’t even know my dad had died. I guess she had just noticed my absence that season.)

These are just two gestures from my community that have gently comforted me and reminded me that the things (we) say and do really matter. People notice. They notice our habits. They notice our hearts. Every one of us has influence–in a neighborhood, in a family, in a friendship, in a work place, on a sports team, in a classroom, online, or even randomly out and about in the world.

As I read in Jeremiah, I reflect on stewardship.

“What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the Lord (Jeremiah 23:1, NLT).

And:

“Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you,
    filling you with futile hopes.
They are making up everything they say.
    They do not speak for the Lord!
17 They keep saying to those who despise my word,
    ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’
And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires,
    they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’ (Jeremiah 23:16b-17, NLT)

Jeremiah’s stance on obedience and truth made him a target in his community. An angry mob demanded his life.

12 Then Jeremiah spoke to the officials and the people in his own defense. “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this Temple and this city,” he said. “The Lord gave me every word that I have spoken. 13 But if you stop your sinning and begin to obey the Lord your God, he will change his mind about this disaster that he has announced against you. 14 As for me, I am in your hands—do with me as you think best. 15 But if you kill me, rest assured that you will be killing an innocent man! The responsibility for such a deed will lie on you, on this city, and on every person living in it. For it is absolutely true that the Lord sent me to speak every word you have heard (Jeremiah 26:12-15, NLT).”

(Uriah also prophesied the same things as Jeremiah, and he was hunted down, captured and killed.)

Jeremiah (and Uriah) served the Lord. Jeremiah’s task intimidates me–the non-confrontational me. What will I do and who will I be when it comes to speaking truth and upholding values? I think long on the things that I value–when I am under pressure, do I trust God with the outcome? Even if I stand alone? (Below, Ahikam stands up for Jeremiah, and I am encouraged. And I remember the most unexpected times that the Lord has sent someone to stand with me in difficulties.)

24 Nevertheless, Ahikam son of Shaphan stood up for Jeremiah and persuaded the court not to turn him over to the mob to be killed (Jeremiah 26:24, NLT).

Lord, you have given me areas of influence and I want to honor you with my life, my words and my actions. Dear Lord, strengthen me in my weakness. Help me to speak truth over my fears.

Courtney (66books365)

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