Tag Archives: Jesus

Zechariah 1:12-7:14

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”

Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”

Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.

The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.

“‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

Zechariah 3:3-9, NIV

Lord, the more I read your word, the more I learn about you, see your work in all its pages, grasp your great love. As I read this passage about the removal of the dirty clothes and the replacement with fine garments, I feel a relief and a gratitude. You don’t leave us as we are, but change us.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 41-43

Ezekiel’s vision of the new temple was God’s language of love to the Jews who had been exiled from Israel and whose glorious temple had been destroyed. The first thirty-eight chapters of the Book of Ezekiel were filled with visions condemning Israel for their faithlessness. Ezekiel’s latter prophecies were intended to bring hope to the Israelites still in exile – hope in God’s promise that He will return in all His glory to His people, His temple, and His land. Ezekiel’s earlier visions brought meaning to the suffering, but God was not done with Israel. Hope blazed anew with God’s measuring out the beautiful restoration of His dwelling place among Israel. Yet the temple painstakingly described by Ezekiel was never built.

I read an article by Dr. Solomon B. Freehof who pointed out that the Book of Ezekiel initiated acceptance of national and individual responsibility (social ethics) with ritual ceremony (Temple worship). He said, “Because it was Ezekiel who pioneered the principle that ritual and righteousness need not compete for the soul of the true worshiper of God, and that priest and prophet can teach together, one may well say that he, more than any other [Old Testament prophets], was responsible for the fact that at every Jewish public worship service, on every Sabbath and holiday, a reading from the prophets always follows the reading from the Torah.” Dr. Solomon B. Freehof, Author at My Jewish Learning(opens in a new tab)myjewishlearning.com/author/dr-solomon-b-freehof/

Not being Jewish, I cannot speak to the impact the Book of Ezekiel has on modern Jews of faith. However, I get the tension between addressing the suffering with social responsibility and giving all one’s devotion to spiritual matters. Some say that Christianity is a private matter that needs not be discussed outside of the Sunday church service. Others proclaim social responsibility and denounce the ‘pie in the sky’ focus. The great leveler, however, is when tribulation and adversity rains down, and they will – on all of us.

Then we look to the heavens and ask, “Why, God?! Why me? Why now?” If no answer comes, we may lose our faith, lose our hope, and neglect to worship God. Our focus is on fairness (is this not what we expect in being socially responsible) and frustration when we do not get our fair share. Disappointment thwarts our worship and spiritual devotion. At those times, we may need an Ezekiel to remind us that God is good and that His hand that stretches out to correct is also the hand that pulls us back to Him and the hope of His blessings. And not because of who we are or what we have done.

Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, we are always in Your hands. Our hope is in looking to You for rescue, restoration, and forgiveness. Through worship we understand Your faithfulness and Your mercy. For You alone are with us and for us. All for love. So, we sing Hallelujah.

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Jeremiah 51:11-52:34

Salvation is a term that has many layers of meaning. For instance, salvation means rescue or help when in danger or the danger of defeat. Other examples include being released from prison, saved from mistreatment, protected from threats, or even deserved suffering. The Greek verb sozo used in the New Testament, elevates the meaning of salvation to the spiritual realm, as well. The term refers to God’s power to deliver us from the bondage of sin, the future deliverance from the presence of sin (Romans 13:11), and the deliverance of Israel at the second advent of Christ (Luke 1:71). God does not forsake His chosen. Jeremiah 51:5 says, “For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God, the Lord of Hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.” And we who have become the children of God because Jesus Christ freely gave Himself on the Cross are also His chosen.

“Help me, Lord!” is probably my most spoken prayer. I seem to need saving on a regular basis. Maybe that is just my natural inclination toward chaos and crisis or perhaps my need is because of hypersensitivity to sin. I see potential danger around every corner – whether in my life, my family, co-workers, government, etcetera, etcetera. I want to call out like Jeremiah 51:9, 10 “Forsake [Babylon], and let us go everyone to his own country; for her judgment reaches to heaven and is lifted up to the skies. The Lord has revealed our righteousness. Come and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God.” Can we run away and hide together until God’s judgment destroys His enemies? Better yet, I want being saved to mean smooth sailing; no more drama; no worries; nothing to fear. In these moments, I recognize the child inside who wishes for the lazy days of summer, sitting on the porch swing, delicious smells of homemade bread baking and a whistling pressure cooker tenderizing a roast and vegetables, the soft humming of Jesus Loves Me on my aunt’s lips as she gently rocks the swing. Such a simple, peaceful time. I can also relate to the nod of restoration in Jeremiah 51:32-34. After Nebuchadnezzar died, his son Evil-Merodach became king and ruled two years. In his first year, he pardoned Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison. “He spoke kindly to him and gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon… [Jehoiachin] ate bread regularly before the king all the days of his life.”

Yet I am reminded of another’s prayer. Refusing to be saved from impending death, Jesus Christ as Savior declared this: “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” (John 12:27) We who are saved and being saved have reaped the benefit of Christ’s obedience to death. In all the chaos and suffering we are allowed to experience; we might look for the unseen benefit. Even the dark fall of Babylon had a silver lining; that is, a remnant of God’s chosen people survived Babylon’s destruction. We see later that Jehoiachin’s restoration was symbolic of the future restoration of Israel and Judah to their homeland.

Trials and difficulties force us to depend even more on the One and only God who can prevent, intervene, and/or restore what the enemy is intent on taking from us. Praying with faith storms the heavens and brings down salvation. And Christ Jesus promised saving grace that insures we will never be separated from Him. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

So, yes Lord. Conform us to Your image as we walk out our salvation. Intervene on our behalf. Grant us courage and determination to stand and testify to Your faithfulness. You are a present help. I will always cry out to You!

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Jeremiah 2:26-5:19

Jeremiah 3:1d “Yet return to Me,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 3:7 “And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’

Jeremiah 3:14,15 “Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord, “for I am married to you…I will give you shepherds who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

Repentance is not just Old Testament. Sometimes I forget this. And yes, I sin. As Paul said in Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Consider the cost. Christ suffered and died on a cross and was resurrected to set me free from the penalty of my sins. And consider the need. Romans 8:21, “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God…O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Still, the consequences of sinful behaviors do not go unnoticed by God. Jeremiah 5:18 illustrates that God will address the sins of His people. “Nevertheless, in those days,” says the Lord, “I will not make a complete end of you. And it will be when you say, ‘Why does the Lord our God do all these things to us?’ then you shall answer them…'” The Apostle Paul, too, wrote his response after chastising his flock in Corinth, “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner…For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted…What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!” II Corinthians 7:9

God has not changed His mind about me or man or sin in general. He always calls His bride to repentance. He offers mercy and grace to those who are called by His name. Will the Law require my death? Yes, but I don’t live under the Law. Thanks to Jesus Christ our Lord, I live under grace!Yet, as I walk out my salvation, I am convicted by the Holy Spirit (and reading Paul’s letters in the New Testament!) of my sins and am made sorrowful. I am driven to my knees in repentance knowing that “returning to the Lord” is sweet relief, blessed forgiveness, and deepening love for this merciful God. He is the One who calls me back, talks me down from the ledge, soothes my frayed nerves, and bursts forth His righteousness where mine failed. All because He loves me.

So, no going to God with fear of rejection or punishment, my soul. Remorse, yes. And mostly regret for forgetting that my Father in heaven is the One who loves my soul, speaks healing to my heart, and lifts up my face to see His infinite mercy. My soul is undone every time.

Lord Jesus, You alone make repentance an act of worship and solid hope. Hope knowing that I will be changed, freed, filled with knowledge and understanding. Worship in awe of how a Holy God would want to be in relationship with me. Let me, Your daughter in faith, always stand in Your presence and delight in Your love. Amen.

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2 Kings 14:11-17:18 

And the bronze altar that was before the LORD he removed from the front of the house, from the place between his altar and the house of the LORD, and put it on the north side of his altar. 15And King Ahaz commanded Uriah the priest, saying, “On the great altar burn the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering and the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. And throw on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice, but the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by.” ~ II Kings 16:14,15 ESV

Israel continues to slide further from God, each new king marking a new record low. Ahaz sacrificed his own children to false, foreign gods. He burned incense to them, he took money from the temple of the true God to pay for an alliance with an ungodly king. He sold himself out.

He also tried to hang on to the faith of David, a little. Taken with the model of an idol’s altar, he had one made just for him. He tried to “keep up with the Jones’s” and still keep God within reach. Moving the true altar to the side, he wanted to keep it on hand in case he ever had a question.

The power of the great I AM was unmistakable, but he wanted to retain the sacrifice part of  faith (hoping to gain victory in battle and direction in times of uncertainty) without having to worry about the obedience aspect of it.The rest of the time (the morning offering, the evening, the blood, the kind’s offering, the grain offering, etc.) he wanted to call the shots.

Our faith is not built on a pick and choose mentality. It’s all or nothing. It’s the pearl of great price. Jesus Christ needs to be our everything.

We cannot borrow models from the world’s design. God has laid out how we should live and a book that shows us who He is. I need to avoid temptation to add or take away from God’s character based on what sounds pleasant to my human mind.

God needs to stay the center of my focus. He can’t be just part of the picture, He needs to be the center, the guide, the lead, the driver, the instructor, the epicenter that everything else reverberates out from.

Dear Lord, I want You to always be my ultimate priority. Give me the strength and wisdom to perpetually keep You first in my life. I don’t want You to be my last resort, but rather my first defense. Help me to put a hedge around Your place in my life and not let anything infringe on that. Lord, I don’t want to pattern my life according to the world’s example, but rather to always look to Your instruction and standards even when my sinfulness threatens to pull me a different direction. Thank you for Your gracious forgiveness when I fall short and the graphic reminders in Scripture to keep me learning at Your feet. ~Amen

5intow (Erin)

From the archives. Originally published May 7, 2009.

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