Tag Archives: Jesus

Jeremiah 50-51; 2 Peter 3

Did they scoff back then? When Jeremiah spoke a message from the Lord, who took him seriously? If he walked into a room today with this message, would anyone even care about what he said?

29 The earth trembles and writhes in pain,
    for everything the Lord has planned against Babylon stands unchanged.
Babylon will be left desolate without a single inhabitant.
30     Her mightiest warriors no longer fight.
They stay in their barracks, their courage gone.
    They have become like women.
The invaders have burned the houses
    and broken down the city gates.
31 The news is passed from one runner to the next
    as the messengers hurry to tell the king
    that his city has been captured.
32 All the escape routes are blocked.
    The marshes have been set aflame,
    and the army is in a panic.

33 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    the God of Israel, says:
“Babylon is like wheat on a threshing floor,
    about to be trampled.
In just a little while
    her harvest will begin.” (Jeremiah 51:29-33, NLT)

Peter cautions believers:

This is my second letter to you, dear friends, and in both of them I have tried to stimulate your wholesome thinking and refresh your memory. I want you to remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles.

Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed. (2 Peter 3:1-7, NLT)

And even with a warning, and even in the waiting, the day of the Lord’s return will come as unexpectedly as a thief (verse 10). The verses in these readings arrest me. Is there much difference in the people in the times of the holy prophets “long ago”, the people in the apostles’ day, the people today? It comes down to believing who God says he is and that he’ll do what he says he’ll do–but regardless of the belief, I think on that verse: for everything the Lord has planned (against Babylon) stands unchanged.

I imagine Jeremiah’s scroll, Peter’s letters, all the books of the Bible (oh, his very voice in the garden!)–at what point does one take God’s word to heart?

14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.

15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.

17 You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:14-18, NLT)

Lord, help me to grow in the grace and knowledge of you. May I not be found ignorant and unstable, twisting your word into a meaning that would lead to my destruction.

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 8-10; 2 Corinthians 11

If I were to sum up a theme in these readings, it would be a warning about false teachings.

You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. (2 Corinthians 11:4, NLT)

What of the false teacher? What is deceit’s disguise?

14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15, NLT)

A deceiver knows how to disguise and hide. Some disguised themselves as apostles of Christ. That’s tricky. Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. We are told this for a reason. Bad intentions can sport good appearances.

But what of truth? Shouldn’t truth have an easy road? After all, it is right and pure. If Paul’s story is any example of trying to bring truth to light, that road is far from comfortable. For example, he:

  • worked harder
  • was put in prison more often
  • was whipped times without number
  • faced death again and again
  • 5 different times the Jewish leaders gave him 39 lashes
  • 3 times he was beaten with rods
  • he was stoned
  • 3 times he was shipwrecked
  • he spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea
  • he traveled on many long journeys
  • he faced danger from rivers
  • he faced danger from from robbers
  • he faced danger from his own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles
  • he faced danger in the cities, and in the deserts, and on the seas
  • he faced danger from men who claimed to be believers but were not
  • he worked hard and long
  • he endured many sleepless nights
  • he was hungry and thirsty
  • he often went without food
  • he shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep him warm (from 2 Corinthians 11:23b-27, NLT)

I read the account again, and this time, I imagine standing next to him. Working. Whipped. Shipwrecked. Facing danger–again and again. Exhausted. Hungry. Thirsty. Cold. And when I read it again, I look into the eyes of other prisoners, assailants holding whips and rocks, intimidating authorities, forceful robbers, a shunning community, even the ones who claimed to be believers. Paul’s not telling a passing story of what he did over the weekend. He’s telling a story of how he faced the extreme pressure to abandon the truth and abolish his faith.

I am ever more grateful for these words in my hands. Grateful for all the people who came before me, speaking and preserving truth, so that I could know Jesus and live. I will never know all that it cost them. But I know if they hadn’t persevered, my ignorance would have cost me my life.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 60-63; 2 Corinthians 1

Paul’s words reach through the ages.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

To comfort.

For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. (2 Corinthians 1:5-6, NLT, emphasis added.)

To focus.

We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. (2 Corinthians 1:8b-11, NLT, emphasis added)

To embolden.

21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us … 24 But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 24, NLT, emphasis added)

Father God, I need your word every day. I am thankful for a brother in Paul to speak a strong word from the past to the present. You enable me to stand firm for Christ, and it is through my own faith. I write the words down where I can see them: It is by your own faith that you stand firm. Your word is living and active, and I am grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 11-13; Psalm 118; Matthew 27

As I read through the Isaiah chapters for today’s readings, they were filled with prophesy of Jesus’ coming.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-3) NIV

Psalm 118 also has words proclaiming Jesus–

22 The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad. (Psalm 118:22-24) NIV

The Israelites waited hundreds of years for this prophesy to come true. And yet, so many of them missed Him because of their expectations of what it would be like when He arrived. I wondered that about myself. How often do I miss Him because my idea of what being a follower of Jesus looks like is different than God’s?

Every day we are surrounded by the majesty of God in nature and creation. There are people in our lives who love us, walk through trials with us, cry with us, laugh with us, and are there through thick and thin. They are Jesus in the flesh to us. Of course, there are people who annoy us, criticize us, and commit heinous acts against us or our loved ones. Those are the times we have to gird up everything within us to be Jesus in the flesh for others. Those are the times I have to remember what Jesus went through for my sins to be forgiven.  That is what reminds me of what it is to be a true follower of Jesus.

Jesus came to this earth to show us who God the Father really is. He told us so many times that he only spoke what the Father wanted Him to say and do what the Father told Him to do. He taught us how to connect with our Creator and his act tore the veil that separated us.  It is finished.  Prophesy fulfilled.

I can’t imagine the concentration, focus, and fortitude it took to endure the cross and the mockery. Only total obedience to God the Father and the knowledge of knowing the purpose behind this crucifixion could have allowed the “Son of Man” to endure what was always the plan (Gen 3:15).

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. (Matt 27:38-44) NIV

Lord Jesus, may I never take for granted what you endured for me. One day I will see You face to face because of the cross. The Holy Spirit lives in me because of the cross. Nothing this life has thrown at me is worse than the agony you experienced. You were betrayed, denied, and mocked. You were tortured, beaten, and left to die in public humiliation. All for the Greatest Love anyone has ever shown humanity. All praises, honor, and glory to You forever and ever! Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

From the archives. Originally published August 21, 2018.

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Amos 7-9; Matthew 15

The Sovereign Lord showed me a vision … the chapters open and Amos shares what he saw. And I notice an intimacy between Amos and the Lord. The Lord shows him things. The Lord speaks to him and with him, “Amos, what do you see?”

***

12 Then Amaziah sent orders to Amos: “Get out of here, you prophet! Go on back to the land of Judah, and earn your living by prophesying there! 13 Don’t bother us with your prophecies here in Bethel. This is the king’s sanctuary and the national place of worship!”

14 But Amos replied, “I’m not a professional prophet, and I was never trained to be one. I’m just a shepherd, and I take care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the Lord called me away from my flock and told me, ‘Go and prophesy to my people in Israel.’ 16 Now then, listen to this message from the Lord …” (Amos 7:12-16, NLT)

Amos was just a regular guy, going to work, but the Lord called him with a special job, with a word that others didn’t want to hear. They told him, “Get out. Don’t bother us. This is not the place for that.”

***

I get an insight into the minds of Jesus’s followers, his disciples.

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” (Matthew 15:12, NLT)

Or regarding the Gentile woman …

23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

(… I imagine Jesus taking the stance the disciples would have at this time … sorry, you’re not one of us, no blessing for you, no time for you … did they see themselves in this interaction?)

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

( … We are the children, and you aren’t. You’re not worthy …)

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed. (Matthew 15:23-28, NLT, emphasis added)

The message behind the words Jesus speaks seems to demonstrate the attitudes the disciples felt. They were bothered by her. She was not one of them. She wasn’t worthy. “Make her go away.”

When Jesus walked this earth, he spoke honestly into situations, made people uncomfortable, offended, but spoke the truth. He showed his followers how to be merciful and honest, how to heal and feed. His words still exhort.

***

I was at the county fair the other day with my youngest. We were on our way to see the chicken exhibit. We walked past a woman who was leaving her booth, and I stopped to chat her briefly. We talked on a superficial topic when suddenly she looked at me and spoke purposefully, and her words filled my every space of my heart.

“God had us meet today on purpose,” she said as we shook hands and parted. And I left feeling encouraged and strong and relieved. I was refreshed by her honesty and bravery to speak a truth to me, a stranger.

***

Lord, you called Amos from his job with a word and a task, and he was obedient. I am grateful for truth. I am grateful for people who are brave and obedient. Thank you, Lord, for your word and your example and your great love.

Courtney (66books365)

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