QTVOTD: Whining with praise?

“But the LORD is with me as a dreaded warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me.  They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed.  Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.” Jeremiah 20:11 [ESV] -> me: Jeremiah is so overwhelmed with not only what God has asked of him , but also feeling like God put in a position of persecution, mockery, and shame.  He prays this lament to the Lord but then immediately follows it up with declaring Who God is by his side…a dreaded Warrior.  He knows that God will punish those who have scoffed Jeremiah and they will be put to shame when they see the Lord follow through with the destruction He is warning everyone about.  PERSONAL APPLICATION – Even in my lowest moments do I carry a trust of Who God is and what He has promised to do?  Do I reach out to Him with my concerns and sorrows but in the same breath praise Him for Who He is?  Is my faith deep enough to allow me to walk confidently in my conversation with One Who comforts AND defends?  I need to be bold and open in my heartache and petition for myself and others who are persecuted but at the same time have a deep trust that rests in a justice to come for those who are evil.

QTVOTD: Protection or Wrath…

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all its towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks, refusing to hear My words.” Jeremiah 19:15 [AMP] -> me: My reading today was the rest of Jeremiah 18 and all of 19.  This passage primarily consists of God telling Jeremiah to go buy a pot (probably a vessel to hold water) and then take several Priests and elders of the Judah and using the smashing of the pot as an example of what God is going to do to Judah if they don’t repent.  The pot broken so badly that it cannot be reassembled.  What stood out to me through these passages is that God warns and warns and warns…providing every opportunity for repentance; but Judah never responds in humility…they respond defiantly saying “It’s no use, we will continue with our own plans; each of us will follow the stubbornness of his own evil heart.”  WHAT?  It is so brazen and I can’t imagine the frustration of the Lord with everything He has promised them and delivered them out of.  So what do God do again, warns them….another time.  My takeaway is that this is the character of our God; His patience is unbelievable for the ones He loves.  What punishment one receives should never come as a surprise – all throughout God’s word He warns and the New Testament is no exception — ‘Accept the gift of Salvation through Christ or face God’s wrath’.  I am so thankful for God’s word that shows us not only His patience, but the destructive power of His punishment and wrath – you either accept the promise of his protection or accept His promise of coming judgement.

QTVOTD: Punishment will come, but its not too late to turn…

“And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy (set apart to the worship of God), as I commanded your fathers. Yet they would not listen and obey or incline their ears; but they stiffened their necks, that they might not hear and might not receive instruction.” Jeremiah 17:22-23 [AMP] -> me: Here the Lord is telling Jeremiah to go stand in the gates of the city of Jerusalem and warn everyone as they come and go, that they must honor the Sabbath by not carrying loads in and out of the city on that day; but to keep the Sabbath day holy….as I commanded your fathers.  What is crazy about this is that what is being said is that the people of Israel have never really kept the Sabbath holy.  The Lord is telling Jeremiah to go tell the people of Judah to start doing this now…think about the uphill battle this would be.  Generations before the current have never respected this day and now Jeremiah is being sent to tell this generation that if they don’t ‘an unquenchable fire will be sent to the gates of Jerusalem that will consume her fortresses’ Jer 17:27.  Doesn’t this feel relevant to today?  Application/Takeaway – just because you have not received swift consequences for disobedience, doesn’t mean the punishment won’t ever come.  Additionally, it is not too late to repent and turn away from something sinful you have been doing for even a long time.  Even though generation after generation has ‘stiffened’ its neck toward God’s commands, He is giving them a chance to change their hearts now.  Keeping the Sabbath as a day set apart for God is a sign of Israel’s commitment to the God who entered into a covenant with them. In the context of Jeremiah, it is not ‘just’ about keeping one commandment; it is about a whole lifestyle in which God is taken seriously. Those who trust in the LORD WILL follow his commandments.

QTVOTD: A heartfelt lament…

“I have not run away from being your shepherd, nor have I desired the day of sickness. You know what came out of my lips; it was before your face. Be not a terror to me; you are my refuge in the day of disaster.” Jeremiah 17:16-17 [ESV] -> me: Today I am back in Jeremiah after a good stint going through ‘The Pastorals’.  As I was reading this evening, these 2 verses jumped out at me.  Jeremiah was in a tough situation.  God had called him to be the single voice calling out for Judah to repent.  This is a great example of a lament.  It might sound like complaining but what Jeremiah says in verse 17 really brings home what is going on here…he feels like a failure but he laments that he has done everything God has asked him yet the people do not hear or receive what he has said.  Then Jeremiah follows this up with ‘Don’t be a terror to me, for You are my refuge in disaster’.  Jeremiah loves the Lord and leans into Him for his safety but he feels like he is letting the Lord down.  I just love the heart of this because it can be how I feel when a ‘witness opportunity’ goes awry.  God is ‘my’ refuge but I sometimes I feel like a failure in what He has called me to do.  Jeremiah’s prayer to God is an encouragement to stay true and steadfast but also to feel comfortable to tell God how I feel.  This was the case this morning when I led the church in prayer in first service.  I really botched it up and rushed it…but God was faithful to give me the courage in second services and give me His strength to communicate more thoroughly and in a way that allowed the congregation to participate.

QTVOTD: Got some work to do…

“This message is most trustworthy, and concerning these things I want you to insist steadfastly, so that those who have believed in (trusted in, relied on) God may be careful to apply themselves to honorable occupations and to doing good, for such things are [not only] excellent and right [in themselves], but [they are] good and profitable for the people.” Titus 3:8 [AMP] -> me: The ‘concerning these things’ Paul wants Titus to insist on is – being submissive to rulers and authorities, being obedient, ready for any honest work, speaking evil of no one, avoiding quarreling, being gentle, and showing perfect courtesy toward everyone.  So who is Paul telling Titus to say this to?  Christians!!  We can be jerks and Paul has to emphatically tell Titus to teach that followers of Jesus Christ must operate in this way so that when they apply themselves to their work or doing good work for others, there can be no hypocrisy cited.  It just struck me how much sin still has every opportunity take hold in a professing Christian, so we must devote ourselves to living out the values mentioned above.  This is not easy – it takes an active power of the Holy Spirit to help us see these failings so that we can adjust.  That power is activated through a continuous searching of God’s will in our lives through consistent prayer and being in the word of God (psst. Paul also teaches this a ton in his letters).  So, when I look at my own life, measured against these commands; I have work to do. 

QTVOTD: Only the Justified…

“when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 [ESV] Oh man!  I love these verses!  There is NOTHING we can do or could have done to have Jesus save us…NOTHING. It is through God’s mercy and grace alone we receive our salvation.  What about the ‘washing of regeneration’?  The other way to say this would be ‘cleansing through re-birth’ which points to the new creation we become through salvation.  Then we have ‘renewal of the Holy Spirit’. One points to the act of entering (re-birth), while the other marks the quality of the new life (renovation). Renewal points to the whole process of ‘making new’. Through the work of the Spirit we live on a higher plane than before.  God’s Holy Spirit has been POURED out on us RICHLY…THROUGH Jesus!…and then because we have been JUSTIFIED by His grace, we have HOPE!  The point of this reference to justification is that no-one who is not justified can hope for an inheritance…no matter what we do.  Justification is the only way to eternity with God and that Justification only comes through One Person -> Jesus Christ.

QTVOTD: Fellowship, not just a follower…

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14 [ESV] -> me: Uh whoa…Today, I had the gift of being able to spend time with my cousin talking about the wonderful journey the Lord has had us on. We feel so blessed to not only have each other, but to also have shared experiences of the outpouring of God’s blessing by showing us His glory (so much more on this topic that I don’t enough time to write about here). This passage is what it is all about to be ‘In Fellowship with Christ’.  The wording in these verses is so important.  Let me just call out a couple.  1) GRACE OF GOD has appeared -> Jesus, Jesus is the grace of God that brings Salvation. 2) TRAINING us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions -> this is our sanctification process.  Paul again using athlete themes to communicate his message.  3) WAITING FOR OUR BLESSED HOPE -> this is an anticipatory action, not a sit-back-and-wait message.  4) PURIFY FOR HIMSELF…FOR HIS OWN POSSESSION -> Its all about Him, not us.  We have been bought with a price and we are not our own.  5) ZEALOUS for good works -> fervent, ardent, devout, committed; these are some of the synonyms of zealous.  Good works should be our focus and drive in this present age. 

QTVOTD: I might be failing at being a small group leader…

“Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Titus 2:6-8 [ESV] -> me: As most of you know, Marianne and I lead a Young Marrieds Life Group. Today’s passage was very relevant to me as a biblical leader of a group and of course, the eldership candidacy program I am in is also teaching me the importance of the teaching in the Pastorals (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus).  I know I can do better in all the areas mentioned above -> 1) I could bringup the aspect of self-control more…especially in light of our ‘exposure/identity culture’. 2) I don’t think I can ‘check off’ the model of good works piece at all.  3) My teaching is sometimes prepared at the last minute with very little prayer and study beforehand.  This passage was very convicting for me today…I feel like there are ways that I am failing my men.  Lord God, help me through your Holy Spirit to have the strength and forethought to put in the necessary time, before you, when I prepare. Help me to see the places that I can be a better model for good works and bring to mind the subjects to start conversations that result in better self-control for those I am shepherding.

QTVOTD: Actions that bring honor and glory to GOD…

“…but he [Elder/Overseer] must be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Titus 1:8-9 [ESV] -> me:  The message yesterday on the Fruit of the Spirit sermon continues to stick in my mind as I contemplate the passage today here in Titus 1.  A couple of things I learned when studying these verses today.  I consider myself a hospitable person but hospitable here means ‘real devotion to the welfare of others’ not just opening up your home.  This area is going to require more focus for me moving forward.  “A lover of good”; the word good here pertains to persons as well as things.  The next set of attributes and instructions are also found in 1 Timothy 3 but 2 words appear here in Titus that do not appear there – 1) upright and 2) holy.  Doing some deeper reading, there were things about the society and culture in Crete (where Paul sent Titus to ‘fix things up’) than in Ephesus.  This begs that the qualities both here and 1 Timothy about the attributes of elders/overseers is not just these listed but that there are positive attributes (or ways of operating) in each culture that should be evaluated.  For us it might be that elders/overseers should not do anything that would support an accusation of racism, etc.  At the end of the day, God’s glory and honor are paramount.  As an overseer or elder, I must walk a line that first and foremost glorifies God, shows love to others, shepherds the flock, and protects the church.

Marianne’s Notes: How can we love the right way?

I John 4:9, “In this the love of God was manifested towards us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

Coming off of the verses from yesterday regarding love being our measuring stick for knowing and loving God (Canyon Hills Community Church Sermon on Fruit of the Spirit), John follows this logic up with reminding us that the SAME love that drove Jesus to leave His throne and come to the world to ultimately be separated (for the first time E V E R) from the Father, to die for people in the midst of their sin, is the SAME love that empowers us to LIVE through Himself. 

I get this all backwards most days…I look at myself and lament my unloving ways…why?  Because I’m trying to love in my own strength and supply.  This isn’t how God lays it out!!  Marianne, we live “through Him” My life of loving others well is directly connected to how I’m loving my Father.  Just as He stated to love Him above all things (step 1) then love others as yourself (step 2).  Step 2 can’t happen successfully without step 1 AND further to the point, what is the point of loving others if I don’t love God?!  True love is TOO hard to do without God or because of God.  You can be kind.  You can be sacrificial.  You can be faithful…but all of these attributes have a selfish counterpart.  Love will cause us to go the distance when there isn’t hope of any return on investment.  Why do we love like this?  Because we are lavished by His love for us.  That love is sinless.  That love is true.  That love satisfies all other needs in our feeble hearts. 

I love how God is pressing us through love & forgiveness together!