Vineyard Life Journal

An online forum for our church family to connect around our 2012 daily Bible reading plan using the S.O.A.P. method.

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Day 243

Friday, August 31, 2012

Welcome to Day 243 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezekiel 12; Ezekiel 13; Ezekiel 14; Revelation 5 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

Congratulations!

We are now at the 2/3 mark of our journey through the Bible together!

S cripture

The next dozen chapters of Ezekiel are explanations of judgment (12:1–24:27).

Ezekiel 12, “The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.”

(Having “ears to hear” is referenced in Revelation 2 and 3.)

Ezekiel 13:6, “They say, “The Lord declares,” when the Lord has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. 7 Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken?”

Ezekiel 14:13, “Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals, 14 even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves [20 nor their sons and daughters] by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

Revelation 5:5, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals. Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain… 13 “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

O bservation

Jesus is the only one who is worthy.

A pplication

Interesting that Jesus is the Lamb of God and the Lion of the tribe of Judah…

The Lion and the Lamb.

The worthy one who has all power and dominion, yet he emptied himself while on the earth, taking on the form of a human, not considering equality with God something to be grasped (Philippians 2:6).

He is worthy to open the scroll…

He is worthy of all glory and praise!

This is a very real glimpse of heaven itself. Of things that were, are and will be.

One of the greatest songs ever written comes right out of Revelation 5: “Revelation Song” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1X4UMYVDEkE

Worthy is the… Lamb who was slain… holy, holy is he.

P rayer

Jesus, you are worthy of all honor and glory and praise!

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2/3

Good morning everyone,

I’m sure you have already figured this out, but we are now at the 2/3 mark of our Life Journal journey together!

I hope you are getting as much out of this as I am!

God bless,

Scott

Bottom right image is 2/3. 😉

Day 242

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Welcome to Day 242 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezekiel 8; Ezekiel 9; Ezekiel 10; Ezekiel 11; Revelation 4 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Ezekiel 8-11, visions concerning abomination in the city and temple. The glory of the Lord departs…

Ezekiel 8:16, “He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east.”

Ezekiel 9:4, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it… Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. 6 Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark.”

Ezekiel 10:4, “Then the glory of the Lord rose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. The cloud filled the temple, and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the Lord.”

18 “Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim… 19b They stopped at the entrance to the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.”

“Each one went straight ahead.” (The implication is they left through the east gate of the Lord’s house.)

Ezekiel 11:18, “They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. 19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

Revelation 4:8, “Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever.”

O bservation

These passages from Ezekiel hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.

A pplication

How sad that those in the inner court of the temple had their back turned the temple and were worship the sun, not the Son…

Then, the glory departed.

BUT… God never leaves us without hope and his faithful promise (chapter 11). “They will return to it [v 17 the land of Israel] and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. 19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

Israel made their choice and received unto themselves the results of destruction and captivity.

All they had to do was trust the Lord and worship only him.

(Of course that sounds easy… doesn’t it…)

It all came down to the choices they made.

It’s so easy to have a divided heart. To know what is right… then the choice kicks in, to do it or not? To worship the God of Israel, or the god of my own choice, my own making…

God Presence (His Glory) is key… is my heart his home? Am I turned toward him, or is my back turned toward him. Do I choose his ways or my way?

(I took note of the creatures and cherubim in Ezekiel and Revelation, their similarities…)

John was given the opportunity to walk through a door, right into the throne room of God in Heaven, where worship was in progress. Elders and creatures worshiping… wow, what a scene!

I’ve always believed worship is our highest priority in life. Beyond singing songs, our very lives are to be offered as living sacrifices. As I have said before, we are both priest and sacrifice. We offer ourselves to him as living sacrifices! Then, when we take our final breath, we go to be in His Presence, and join in the worship with the elders, creatures and the saints who have gone before us…

The key, don’t turn away as they did in Ezekiel’s vision.

P rayer

Lord forgive me for the times when I have had my back to you…

Day 241

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Welcome to Day 241 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezekiel 4; Ezekiel 5; Ezekiel 6; Ezekiel 7; Revelation 3 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Ezekiel 4-7, judgment is proclaimed for Jerusalem.

Chapters 4 and 5 contain four symbolic parables portray Jerusalem’s fall. (Signs of a clay tile, the prophet lying on his side, eating polluted bread, prophet’s shave and haircut… six bits!)

Chapters 6 and 7 outline the devastation of the land. (Yet a remnant will be spared!)

Ezekiel 4:15, ““Very well,” he said, “I will let you bake your bread over cow dung instead of human excrement.”

Ezekiel 5:7, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You have been more unruly than the nations around you and have not followed my decrees or kept my laws. You have not even conformed to the standards of the nations around you.”

Ezekiel 6:8, “But I will spare some, for some of you will escape the sword when you are scattered among the lands and nations.”

11 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Strike your hands together and stamp your feet and cry out “Alas!” because of all the wicked and detestable practices of the people of Israel, for they will fall by the sword, famine and plague.”

Ezekiel 7, desolation described: social, military, economic and political disruption.

27 “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

Revelation 3

The Lord continues His letters to the churches in Asia, with this chapter containing those written to Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

The church in Sardis is rebuked for having a name that they are alive, when in reality they are dead. With their works not perfected before God, they are exhorted to be watchful and to strengthen the things which remain. They are also told to remember how they had received and heard in the past, to hold fast and repent. Otherwise, the Lord will come upon them as a thief in the night. Notice is taken, however, of a few in Sardis who had not defiled their garments and are still worthy, who are promised to walk with the Lord in white (1-6).

The church in Philadelphia is promised an open door that none can shut because they had kept the Lord’s word and not denied His name. Their enemies, those who claim to be Jews but are not, will be made to worship before them, and the church will be kept from the trial that was about to test those on the earth. With an announcement of His quick coming, they are exhorted to hold fast what they have that none take their crown (7-13).

The church of Laodicea is then described as lukewarm, for which the Lord threatens to spit them out of His mouth. While claiming to be rich, they are blind to their true condition. Therefore the Lord counsels them to buy from Him those things they truly need. His strong words are indicative of His love for them, and the fact that He stands ready to re-enter their hearts if they will open to Him (14-22).

As before, each letter ends with wonderful promises to those who overcome. In most cases, the manner in which the promises are to be fulfilled is illustrated in the visions to come.

Revelation 3:21 “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

Excerpts used with permission from Mark A. Copeland’s study of the Book of Revelation.

O bservation

God always leaves us with hope, whether Israel and Judah in captivity with the promise of a remnant restored, or the churches in Asia, with a promise to the victorious.

A pplication

God always, always leaves us with hope and a promise.

One of the most realistic verses in all the Bible is when Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.” John 16:33.

Difficulty and hardship are a part of life. Jobs come and go, kids act out, relationships are hard, even under the best of circumstances. But even in that, there is a promise, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” also John 16:33!

Difficulty and “trouble” don’t mean we have a lack of faith… it just means that it’s how life is. We all experience seasons of hardship, as well as seasons of blessing and abundance and fruitfulness.

This past weekend, Doug talked about pruning, in John 15 that we are pruned so that we can become more fruitful. Pruning is not fun, even painful, but our pain has a purpose.

Really what it comes down to is relationship. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Apart from him we can do nothing (of any lasting or eternal value.)

Revelation 3:20 is one of the classic verses in all the Bible. “Here I am! [Behold!] I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

Verse 19 just prior states, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.

I would say, “rebuke and discipline” = “pruning” yes?

Not fun, but necessary. When a tree is fruitful, it is pruned. That’s the good news!

When a branch is not fruitful, it is cut off…

Better to be pruned than cut off, right?

The thing is, it can feel the same… both are cut, just one is completely cut off, the other is merely cut back some.

The Lord is speaking to the seven churches… wanting them to thrive and be fruitful… and to have fellowship with him!

He wants the same for us!

P rayer

Lord, I have to admit, I’m not crazy about being pruned, but I trust you, to know and to do what is best, so that I may become more fruitful.

Day 240

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Welcome to Day 240 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezekiel 1; Ezekiel 2; Ezekiel 3; Revelation 2 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Ezekiel 1-3:15 records Ezekiel’s calling as a priest and a prophet, not unlike the calling of Isaiah in Isaiah 6.

The glory of the Lord, holiness and sovereignty are central themes in Ezekiel. (Not to mention Israel’s sinfulness and the necessity of God’s wrath in dealing with it. I thought we might get a break from this, but no such luck.)

28, “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

Ezekiel 2:3, “He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day.”

Ezekiel 3:10, “And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11 Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.”

17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.”

Revelation 2

The letters to four of the seven the churches in Asia, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos and Thyatira. (Revelation 3 records the remaining three letters to the churches in Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea). Each church is commended for what they are doing that is good or right, followed by words of condemnation (except for Smyrna) and related warning, an exhortation and a promise.

The church at Ephesus is commended for its steadfastness, especially against false apostles. But while standing for the truth, they had lost their first love. Exhorted to repent and be restored by doing the “first works”, they are warned that their “lampstand” would be removed if they did not repent (1-7).

The church at Smyrna is commended for being “rich” despite their tribulation and poverty. Unlike most churches, there are no words of condemnation directed toward it. While they would experience a little persecution, they are exhorted to remain faithful to death (8-11).

The church at Pergamos is also praised for its steadfastness, but faulted for allowing false teachers in their midst. The Lord threatens to come and fight with the sword of His mouth if there is no repentance (12-17).

The church at Thyatira is also commended, for their last works are more than their first. But they too have a false teacher and followers which jeopardize the condition of the church. Despite giving this “Jezebel” time to repent, she has not and so the Lord intends to make her and her followers an example before the other churches (18-29).

Click on picture to access the study guide pdf file.

I found a great study guide online for the Book of Revelation. The author’s name is Mark A. Copeland. Click here to see a pdf file of the study guide. (I emailed the author, but haven’t heard back yet.)

O bservation

As if trying to make sense out of Revelation wasn’t enough, now we have to digest the Book of Ezekiel, with all its imagery at the same time! lol

A pplication

I wonder what a letter to the Vineyard in Beavercreek might say?

“I know your good works and your heart for the poor, your earnest desire to worship me. Nevertheless I have this against you… _________________”

There is no perfect church. Keep in mind, the church itself was just getting off the ground when Revelation was recorded.. in the last decade of the first century, just a generation or two after Christ. It was still being established.

And it still is.

Two thousand years later, with tens of thousands of churches world-wide, the message of the Gospel is still spreading. (At this time, mostly south of the equator.)

I am convinced that the Lord could and will always have a word of rebuke or correction, for me, for us, for our church, our city, our nation…

Just like the rich young ruler, “I have kept all these from my youth… what do I lack?” in Matthew 19. Jesus could and will always have an answer for that question, because we never arrive.

That’s no excuse for not trying though…

We can always draw close again to our first love. We ought always keep on lookout for false teachers and remain faithful through persecution.

That’s why each letter closes with the admonition, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” This suggests the letters were not just for the personal benefit of the churches addressed, but for all who would hear those words as they were read. (Keep in mind, no one had personal copies of these letters or the books of the Bible until centuries later. There was no such thing as a pdf file easily downloaded… no podcast of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or of Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost. No YouTube interpretations of the Book of Revelation as one can easily find today.)

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

I wonder if I have ears to hear…

I think I do, but does that mean that I really do?

P rayer

Lord, I want to have ears to hear what you are saying, not just to the church, but to me…

Day 239

Monday, August 27, 2012

Welcome to Day 239 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Jeremiah 52; Revelation 1; Psalms 143; Psalms 144 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Jeremiah 52 is basically a big, “I told you so.” A review of the history of Jerusalem’s demise, ending on a hopeful note of how King Jehoiachin was treated kindly during the exile.

My heart kind of sank as I read about how they dismantled the temple and its articles of bronze, gold and silver. It was all carried off to Babylon.

19 “The basins, the firepans, the bowls, the pots, the lampstands, the spoons, and the cups, whatever was solid gold and whatever was solid silver, the captain of the guard took away. 20 The two pillars, one Sea, the twelve bronze bulls which were under it, and the carts, which King Solomon had made for the house of the Lord—the bronze of all these articles was beyond measure.”

Revelation 1

Unlike most books of the Bible, Revelation contains its own title: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1). “Revelation” (Gr., apokalupsis) means “an uncovering,” “an unveiling,” or “a disclosure.” In the NT, this word describes the unveiling of spiritual truth (Rom. 16:25Gal. 1:12Eph. 1:173:3), the revealing of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19), Christ’s incarnation (Luke 2:32), and His glorious appearing at His second coming (2 Thess. 1:71 Pet. 1:7). In all its uses, “revelation” refers to something or someone, once hidden, becoming visible. What this book reveals or unveils is Jesus Christ in glory. Truths about Him and His final victory, that the rest of Scripture merely allude to, become clearly visible through revelation about Jesus Christ (see Historical and Theological Themes). This revelation was given to Him by God the Father, and it was communicated to the Apostle John by an angel (1:1). www.gty.org

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Revelation 6.

I may approach Revelation a bit differently since most people are unfamiliar with it and even a little apprehensive about this particular book, how to interpret it.

Revelation stresses that though it comes in symbolic form, it is understandable. It is “revelation,” disclosing rather than hiding truth (v. 1). It is for “his servants,” not a special elite (v. 1). God expects Christians to “keep what is written,” to profit spiritually (v. 3). A blessing encourages people to read and hear (v. 3). RSB

5 To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

8 “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'”

10 “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

Psalm 143:9, “Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; In You I take shelter. 10 Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. 11 Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake!”

Psalm 144:3, “Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him? 4 Man is like a breath; His days are like a passing shadow.”

O bservation

Usually when someone asks about the SOAP, I describe the “O” as “what jumped out at you?”

Today, clearly, it was “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.”

A pplication

John is given a rare glimpse of the glorified Christ…

Keep in mind, he had been with Jesus post-crucifixion/resurrection. Remember in John 21? The disciples had been fishing all night and Jesus showed up on shore, gave them a miraculous catch, then, he cooked them breakfast…

But this is a different Christ that John is seeing, experiencing… 14 “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire.” 17, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid.”

Whoa!

This is some vision John is having, and it’s only getting started. Keep in mind, John was told by an angel to “write this down.” This vision is being given to Jesus, from the Father (v1) , and John is recording it as it is being revealed to Jesus from or by the Father!

Now, here’s the cool thing… a promise for all of us. “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”

Blessed is he who reads…

and those who hear…

and keep those things which are written in it…

for the time is near.

So, if you read or listen AND keep these things, you will be blessed!

In the coming days, first, we will read God’s letter to each of the seven churches in Asia (v 11).

This should be quite an adventure, adding a much-needed shot in the arm to the judgment, doom and gloom of Isaiah and Jeremiah. (Although I attempted to find the mercy and restoration along the way, the heaviness of those books, day in and day out has been weighing in me, personally, to the point at which it was difficult for me to press through even reading them…)

It’s important to keep in mind as we make our way through the next 21 chapters of Revelation, that it all ends well, just as in Isaiah and Jeremiah.

God ultimately restores all things, even a new heaven and a new earth, and the dwelling of God is with men!

P rayer

Lord give me wisdom, insight and understanding as I read Revelation and attempt to apply it to my life…

Day 238

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Welcome to Day 238 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Jeremiah 50; Jeremiah 51; 3 John 1 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Jeremiah 50:34, “Yet their Redeemer is strong; the Lord Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land, but unrest to those who live in Babylon. 35 “A sword against the Babylonians!” declares the Lord.”

Jeremiah 51:55, “The Lord will destroy Babylon; he will silence her noisy din.”

3 John 1:2, “I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (NKJV)

“I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (NIV)

O bservation

I love the language, “he will silence her noisy din” in reference to Babylon.

A pplication

Sin is often like that… a noisy din. Activists who fight for causes that go against God’s righteousness create a noisy din. Often when people are caught up in sin, they can’t hear God’s voice due to the din that is created by poor choices and the results. True for all of us…

The Gospel message can get lost in a din as well… when judgment is proclaimed, when the presentation is without love or mercy or grace, it becomes, as it is compared in 1 Corinthians 13, to “a clanging cymbal…” a din.

Not really sure that there is much more to say about this, except that I pray that the din is quieted in my life. That I am able to hear God’s still small voice amidst the noisy din of life around me…

Reminds me of when Goliath was defying the God of Israel day after day after day. 1 Samuel 17, “So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!”

45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

Lord, silence the din of the Goliaths in the world…

P rayer

Lord, that I would hear your still small voice… that I wouldn’t get caught up in the noisy din of sin.

I pray for all those reading along that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers!

Day 237

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Welcome to Day 237 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Jeremiah 37; Jeremiah 38; Jeremiah 39; Psalms 79; 2 John 1 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Jeremiah 37-39, These chapters recount Jeremiah’s last warnings before the fall of Jerusalem and his imprisonment for his unpopular message. His repeated advice to surrender to the Babylonians is ignored, and he remains imprisoned until the fall of Jerusalem. RSB

Jeremiah 39:18, “I will save you [Ebed-Melech the Cushite]; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the Lord.”

Psalm 79:1, “O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.”

2 John 1, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

O bservation

Funny how Jeremiah wrote about himself in third person, 37:4 “Now Jeremiah was free to come and go among the people, for he had not yet been put in prison.”

Jeremiah 39:18, “I will save you [Ebed-Melech the Cushite]; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the Lord.”

A pplication

Amidst the taking and destruction of Jerusalem, some find mercy because of their trust in the Lord.

Regardless of what is going on around me, that is (or should be) my focus, to trust in the Lord.

2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord range [search] throughout the earth to strengthen (show his great power in helping them.) those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

I believe this to always be the case, it’s always true, in any circumstance.

Jeremiah, who was thrown into prison asked the officials, “Where are those “prophets” who said Jerusalem would not be attacked? Why aren’t they in prison? Why am I??” Even in prison he stayed faithful and gave the word of the Lord as directed.

It’s amazing to me how many followers ended up in prison… most of them, undeserving!

I wonder how I would react?

Would I run the prison as Joseph did? Would I still give the word of the Lord as Jeremiah did? Would an angel rescue me as he did Peter? Would I worship in my chains as Paul did?

Would I be beheaded as John the Baptist? (Sorry, that’s not very encouraging, I know, but that was his outcome…)

When a tube of toothpaste is under pressure, what is inside eventually comes out.

The same is true for us… Under pressure, what I think, feel and believe will eventually come out.

Will I trust in the Lord? Or will I get angry at him for my circumstances?

When I read the Bible, I often will insert myself into the story, not just as a main character, but any character. I look to see myself, good or bad qualities…

I could be Jeremiah the prophet, imprisoned, or I could be Ebed-Melech the Cushite… trusting in the Lord while under siege? What would I say in those circumstances? Would I rise to the occasion or crumble under pressure?

I know this… All I can do is press into the Lord and trust him, daily. Set aside my own agenda for his… bring hope to the hopeless, pray for the sick, encourage those in need…

P rayer

Lord, I trust in you alone!

Day 236

Friday, August 24, 2012

Welcome to Day 236 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Jeremiah 33; Jeremiah 34; Psalms 74; 1 John 5 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Jeremiah 33:3, “This is what the Lord says…” “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

5 ‘They [the houses and royal palaces] will be filled with the dead bodies of the men I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness. 6 “‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”

14 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15 “‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.'”

Jeremiah 34:17, “Therefore, this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine.” (The most sarcastic prophecy ever?)

Psalm 74:1, “Why have you rejected us forever, O God? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture? 2 Remember the people you purchased of old, the tribe of your inheritance, whom you redeemed…”

1 John 5:21, “Dear children [“friends/brothers], keep yourselves from idols.”

O bservation

What an interesting way to end a letter/epistle… “Keep yourselves from idols.”

A pplication

Exodus 20:2, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Period.

This is a recurring topic throughout scripture, and certainly in this blog. This is the first of the Ten Commandments…

Interesting that John (it is commonly held that the Apostle John, who wrote the Gospel of John wrote 1 John, although the author is not identified within the context of the letter.) ends his epistle with “Keep yourselves from idols.”

Why??

Must have still been a struggle. It’s the only thing that makes sense… It’s like his one, final piece of advice. Almost a “by the way…” or “one last thing…”

Romans addresses similar topics in chapter 14 about eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols.

Most major cities (Rome, Ephesus, Athens) still offered many opportunities to worship idols.

If one thing is abundantly clear throughout scripture, God really doesn’t like idol worship. This one issue seems to really tweak him more than anything else.

Funny, in our culture, it seems so irrelevant… and people (especially pastors) love to make other “gods” a broader scope, including houses, cars and labels. Anything we put as more important that God himself.

And I get that, I do… but this is very specific… God is saying we should have no other “gods” before him… and to make no “graven images.”

This is clearly speaking of the gods of Egypt and other cultures. Baal, being one of the most prominent gods mentioned over and over. Molech, Astoreth, and there are plenty of others.

Having wrong priorities and focus, considering other things as more important is a different issue. And it’s very real… but it’s not idol worship. When the Bible speaks of having no other gods, it means what it says… gods are gods. They have a name… and people actually worship them. People make idols or “graven images” and bow down in worship to them.

Eventually, we will get to the book of Daniel, when he, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are faced with a decision… to bow down to the huge idol that Nebuchadnezzar had fashioned.

They refused.

The application question is really, “What do I bow down to?” “In what or who am putting my trust?”

(I love when the Bible says, “Why don’t you call out to those worthless idol you carved to save you?”)

It is possible to put my trust in my bank account or my own efforts…

But that’s not idol worship. That’s a different issue altogether.

P rayer

Lord, I will never bow down to any other god. I will put my trust in you and you alone! I will trust you to provide for all my needs. I will call out to you and worship only you!

Day 235

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Welcome to Day 235 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Jeremiah 31; Jeremiah 32; 1 John 4 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Jeremiah 31:31, ““The time is coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord. 33“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.

“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Jeremiah 32:42, ““This is what the Lord says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them.”

1 John 4:4, “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

16 “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

O bservation

How about this for a strong statement? “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.”

A pplication

“For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Have you noticed it’s easier to love some people? Others, not so easy…

These verses keep things in proper perspective. We can be a worshiper, pressing into God, vocal about our faith, going out, serving the community… say that we love God…

But if I hate my brother, the truth is not in me. (That is a broader use of “brother” than family/blood.)

Was talking with someone the other day about how it’s easy to love those not close to us. There’s no real investment or requirement to have to work through any issues. It’s when we get close to someone and begin to rub shoulders… or rub each other the wrong way… that’s where the rubber meets the road.

I always told my kids, “Hate is a very strong word.”

I hate broccoli.

I hate school.

I hate my life.

Hate is a very strong word…

Say, “I dislike broccoli.” or “I’m not crazy about broccoli.”

When we use the term “hate” in reference to another person, even internally, we are in trouble.

John says we can’t say we love God whom we have not seen, and hate our brother whom we have seen. It makes no sense and it’s not consistent.

If I really “hate” a person, I need to deal with it. We don’t have to be close to everyone, but we are called to love, not hate. If we hate, we are on a slippery slope.

How do I know if I really “hate” someone? When the sight of them makes daggers come out of my eyes… When anger starts to burn in my heart. When I avoid them at all costs. When I say to myself, “I hate that guy.”

I’m a pretty savvy Christian. I know what to say and not say. Better to say, “I love you.” Why? Because, “They will know we are Christians by our love for one another.”

But I want the real deal. I want genuine love, that’s based on relationship. I don’t like when people tell me they love me and they don’t even know me. That’s seems not very genuine. I think it makes them feel good about themselves because they feel like they are a more loving person.

Tell me you appreciate me. Tell me you like me! Tell me you think I’m a great guy! I can hear that. That goes deep. But an “I love you” from someone I have never had a meal with? (I think they are really saying all of the above, and that’s ok.)

But love comes with a cost. It’s easy to say, and not so easy to do.

If you say you love me, and we disagree on something, and you avoid me, that’s not love.

If you say you love me, and you start going to another church, and I never hear from you again, that’s not love.

If you say you love me, and you talk about me behind my back, that’s not love.

If you say you love me, can you overlook my shortcomings or my flaws?

Don’t pretend. Let’s keep it real.

Love works through issues, it doesn’t avoid them.

Yet, love isn’t petty… it doesn’t make mountains out of mole hills. It doesn’t keep score. (1 Corinthians 13)

Love is a choice… a commitment.

“Love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

P rayer

Thank you Lord that you are love… thank you for pouring your love into our hearts! Help me to become a more loving person.

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