I am stuck. I’m reading (powerful stuff too!) but I’m not “hearing”. My heart isn’t stirred, convicted, or impressed by what ‘m reading. So I take my que from David and I “wait patiently for my God.” He is here; I am here. He loves me; I love Him. He has plans for me; I want to follow His plans. So I wait in expectant faith…meditating on His word until He calls after me. I’ve been continually brought back to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
LOVE is patient: able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.
Being patient with others, patient with myself, patient with God is love and loving. Patience requires me to serve others with endurance from a posture of humility. Patience requires me to not consider myself greater than I am, but to consider others greater than myself. Patience requires me to not consider myself God, rather to recognize that God is God and my trust/obedience/faith are in Him/His timing/His ways and He “owes” me nothing.
This is my mediation today…Love is patient, Lord show me this is deeper and more full ways today.
“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;” 1 Timothy 2:8 -> me: Today’s passage was 1 Timothy 2:1-8. Paul really moves into the meat of this epistle to instruct Timothy in ways of Pastoral-ship. He starts with the importance that we should pray for everyone. The wide the subjects of our prayer time the larger our vision becomes. He then tells Timothy to pray for leaders and people in places of influence. It is easy for us to leave out city, state, national, and world leaders in our prayer life but Paul tells us that praying for these can bring peaceable living and an undisturbed life…well, that is definitely not what we have now but praying for our leaders is no less important as it is a way that we Christians can have a part in the movement of God’s hand across a nation and world. As we pray we develop godliness, reverence, and seriousness (holiness) and in stressful times like now these can be intensified. Ultimately our goal as Christians, in fellowship with Christ, is to do things that please God – in our prayer, worship, and service…not to earn our salvation or God’s love (not possible) but to put a smile on His face when He looks in our direction and sees His Son’s reflection in ours. The holy place of prayer is anywhere we are as long as we have the right attitude of mind, pure actions, and pure motives; these are essential in Christian worship.
Wrapped up Jonah today…Chapter 4 is full of lessons for us as Christ followers! Once Jonah saw the tenderness of God towards the repentant Ninevites he was angry. He told God, “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord, I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” God answers with a simple convicting question, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” God doesn’t tell Jonah all the reason he is wrong or pull the “I’m God” card…He gently asks is it right for you to be angry? Sometimes God is at work (perhaps in our country right now) but we are so blinded by our own experiences and expectations of “justice” that when God acts mercifully to save and to restore we are bitter and resentful yet it’s the gift He gave us to which we are deeply thankful for. Self-righteousness comes when we forget we are equal sinners to those we hate or despise. I am them. I am one of them. I am called to serve them not ask for God to wipe them off the face of the earth by quoting some scripture. God’s always for preserving life. Always. Why? Because it’s a chance at redemption! We all deserve death but we were given a chance at redemption! God sent Jesus to give “all men” a chance at redemption. Who am I not to grieve if that chance is lost for another?! I believe this is the heart I must have in order to truly “weep with those who weep” and to come bearing HOPE in order to “bind up the brokenhearted.” Jonah missed this completely. This also shows me that sometimes I miss God’s greater story in my life. I can be used by God in a miraculous way and because of my own heart miss the miracle. Jonah left to pout; God grew a plant outside his shelter to keep him shaded and to bring him relief from the blazing sun. Jonah was relieved. The next morning God sent a worm to eat through its root and the plant died. God sent a scorching sun which left Jonah so hot “death is certainly better than living like this!” God asks him again “is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?” Jonah misses the point again and says, “Yes, even angry enough to die!” The final recorded word to Jonah from God was “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But in Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” This is the perspective of God…we cry over endangered forests but not endangered babies. We don’t weep or rejoice fully at the work that God is doing when we “don’t agree” with the principle of the people being saved. For example, I’m hearing amazing reports from believers who are doing baptisms inside CHOP…we should be REJOICING at this news!! Salvations!! Changed lives!! But because we don’t “agree” with the destruction, their method of occupying, and their ideology we complain to God about “not doing something” to fix this issue. He IS doing something! He’s doing something through people who are looking past the pouting and offering to serve them in love then with the truth of the gospel. Which side will we be on? Which side will I be on? Marianne you have been crucified. You are Christs…do HIS work, not your own…He has plans of redemption here.
“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith” 1 Timothy 1:18-19 -> me: My reading today was only 3 verses ending chapter one of 1 Timothy. I became caught up primarily in Paul’s use of ‘shipwrecked’ as a way our faith is impacted when we ignore or reject a good conscience. In order for us to ‘wage good warfare’, faith and morals are inseparably linked and epitomize the spiritual side of the Christian warrior’s armor. The Greek verb used for ‘reject’ verse 19 is a strong one meaning a violent and deliberate rejection. The nautical imagery is interesting in that a ship usually has everything we need in it for our voyage but if we ignore the charts and essentially do what we want against our conscience, we become unstable and prone to ground ourselves or break up on the rocks. We become stuck in an unwanted place and we miss achieving our intended destination. Dictionary: CONSCIENCE -> an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior. This plays out in that fellow Christian who has deliberately chosen to entertain an enslaving sin, or reject the prodding of the Holy Spirit in their lives. We see their faith consistent bashing into the rocks of doubt, confusion, or progressive unbiblical movements. Ignoring a good conscience can be an open door to falling subject to false teaching. Paul ends this passage with the calling out of 2 individuals (Hymenaeus and Alexander) who have been ‘handed over to satan that they may learn not to blaspheme”. Because Paul used the word ‘learn’ here it means that the handing over is meant to win them back into church through reconciliation as they learn their lesson through the reaping of the desires of their flesh.
“…formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:13-14 -> me: Today my passage of study was 1 Timothy 1:12-17. These 2 verses above stood out to me for a couple of reasons. 1) The reflections of Paul on Christ’s enabling power only magnified his own sense of unworthiness. 2) God recognized in Saul of Tarsus a servant of mighty potential once he was enlightened. 3) Grace is an operative and formative force dominating both thought and action. 4) Grace is super-abundant in its ability to overwhelm any sin that has come or will be. I have felt this continual unveiling of my sin the closer I get to my Savior that Paul talks about. I have come to pray for it now; asking that the Lord, through His Holy Spirit, would reveal my tendencies toward sin so that I might act against it in His strength giving power. Acceptance of grace with just a simple faith leads to a life abiding in Jesus Christ where we receive an ability to love and grow our faith. This in turn becomes the evidence of that grace that started it all. I must allow myself to stay in this cyclical place – a vortex of peace, clear conscience, and hope to be with my Savior in heaven forever. What a gift God has given us in the ability to taste a little of heaven right here on earth in the here-and-now.
“…the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,” 1 Timothy 1:9-10 -> me: Today my reading was 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Paul is laying out the purposes of the law for the two classes of people. 1) Those who are in fellowship with Christ Jesus through the acceptance of Him through faith that He died on the cross to pay for all our sin. 2) Those who are rebellious against God and others. God created the Law before Jesus as way to give His children a way of identifying their sin. In fact that law served as a way to hold sinners captive to a judgement they were due because of their willingness to sin. In verse 8 Paul says ‘Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully’. What the heck does that mean??!!?? I have spent quite a bit of time today researching this through scripture and the help of scholars and I believe I now have a good grasp. Rather than talk about what the Law does for the non-believer lets talk about what we as Christians should do with the law. In Romans 3 Paul says “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” and then he says “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law”. So what do we do if the Law is good but we should no longer be slave to the Law? It means that the Law is no longer our means of justification. That justification comes through faith in Christ alone. So my focus, my whole being, should be to look first to Him for my salvation and justification…at the same time, the way I can use the law for the right purpose is to dwell on it (like it says in my life verses in Psalms 1:2) as a way to remember what Jesus has done for me. I cannot use the law to win my salvation but I can use what the law represented in who I was before I met Jesus and use that to glorify His wonderful gospel all the more. To remind myself of how much thanks and gratitude I owe Him for allowing me to die to that Law in order to live in HIS righteousness; a righteousness I did not earn and that I do not deserve.
Jonah 3:1-10…If I were to title this chapter it would be, “How we respond matters”. How Jonah responds to God’s request matters; how the people of Nineveh respond to Jonah’s message from the Lord matters. How WE respond to our world and God’s call on us matters. A LOT. Why? Our response reveals who “owns” us…who “calls the shots” in our lives. Jonah didn’t mind being a profit, until he was asked to do something he didn’t want to. In fact, it was the prophet, the one “closest to God”, who wouldn’t obey…not the violent and evil city of Nineveh. A great reminder that we make a choice daily to “take up our cross” and to lay down lordship of our lives.
When God asked Jonah to go into the city thankfully he obeyed this time. It took Jonah three days to proclaim throughout the city that in “40 days Nineveh will be destroyed” but as he did the people immediately believed; they created a fast and clothed themselves in burlap to lament for what they’d done. In fact, the king heard the message, got off his throne, took off his royal robed, dressed in burlap, and sat on a heap of ashes. He then sent out a decree to the whole city asking for every person and animal (!) to not eat or drink but instead to pray earnestly and to turn from violence and evil. God saw their response and spared the city. In His mercy He relented because of their sorrow. How we respond matters.
Look at our nation, crumbling (literally) into pieces. We are violent, stubborn, evil, sinful, and have turned our backs on God in a flagrant way. As His church am I too self-righteous to run into that fire in order to save others? Is my heart too full of condemnation and pride to believe that God could be merciful? Do I want Him to? This is the burden God asks me to bear…to weep with those who weep, to “bind up the brokenhearted”…it seems that there are brokenhearted people EVERYWHERE! What am I actively doing to “bind them up”? The hope isn’t in American and their ability to turn away from sin…the hope is Jesus and His power to work WITHIN the hearts. I need this word today…I need to pray faithfully on this truth and lay my life open to the Lord to speak into it, “get up and go…” To show me how to bind up the brokenhearted.
“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:3-5 -> me: At the encouragement of one of our pastors at church, I am taking a small break from Jeremiah to make my way through 1st and 2nd Timothy as well as Titus. Today was 1 Timothy 1:1-7. Here is my takeaway from today -> False teachers are more interested in their own intellectual satisfaction than what they should know by faith. The gospel and obedience to God’s work are all about FAITH. Most importantly, LOVE springs from faith. This love comes about through a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a sincere faith itself. Just like Timothy, I have a duty to protect my church from false teaching. By losing their Christian bearings, these false teachers drifted into a trackless waste. Without love they produce meaningless chatter…their focus is on their own people pleasing perception. The irrelevance of the content of a message is a hallmark of a false teacher. So what does this tell me – I must watch my own motives; first and foremost my heart is made pure by the word of God (John 15:3) and not only that but Jesus said that there is a special reward for those pure of heart —> They get to see God! My faith must be sincere, not just a pretense without a solid foundation. I must check my conscience (by listening to the Holy Spirit) that it is clear. Finally, I must act by ‘charging’ or ‘commanding’ those who are false teaching to cease. This is huge…and scary.
Jonah 2:1-10 – All forms of earthly disruption (storms of life, like we are currently in) are primarily spiritual disruptions born in the spiritual realm. They are, as Dr. Tony Evans calls them, Divine Disruptions. To make sense of these disruptions without addressing the issue spiritually makes no sense…the point IS spiritual. Same for Jonah. It wasn’t until after he fled, endured a violent storm, was plummeted into the deep almost dead, and swallowed by a “giant fish”, and sat there inside of the fish for three days and nights did he finally PRAY. Jonah 2:1, “Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God…” This is our human condition. This is our pride. This is our skewed belief that we will somehow out-wit the God who commands the sea and land. This reflects how we greatly we view ourselves and how small we view God. Jonah finally relents to God’s will and authority in his prayer and he states, “But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows, for my salvation comes from the LORD alone.” IMMEDIATELY Jonah is spit onto the shore. When we finally relent God’s response is immediate. God wasn’t just desiring to redeem Nineveh, He wanted to redeem the wayward heart of Jonah. God wants this from us too. In the process of God resolving our divine disruption He’s resolving heart issues in His people. God waists NOTHING. Everything is transformative. God doesn’t yell or condemn Jonah…He simply spits him out. He is so long-suffering. Grace is always at the front end of His behavior. God is holding us, His people, right now in the belly of the fish…in our chaos until our will is tamed and His will is received by us. He will not relent. He is God. This is His plan and it will come to pass. What should we do? Easy: 1. Pray. 2. Offer praise. 3. Commit our hearts to God’s will and not our own. Everything we might run to…God commands, created, and owns…to not align ourselves under His will and care is stubbornness. Jonah is a mirror of how much our heart can hate a people group…it can make us rebel and run from God, take us out of God’s will, cause spiritual disruptions, and bring us close to death before we choose to love like God loves. Just because we are His people doesn’t mean that we love like He does…only a heart continually laid out before Him will have the ability to do that.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”” Jeremiah 17:9-10 -> me: I was only able to get through 3 verses today. These verses are best summed up with the ‘Meaning’ written in my Tyndale Commentary -> ‘The sinful ways of individuals and the people as a whole will lead to disaster, because they have forgotten the Lord. Whatever is hidden in people’s hearts is not hidden from God. He will reveal the truth about every human being. This is true of the nation and also of individuals. The choice between God and the idols, truth and deceit, is ultimately a choice which will result in blessing or curse.’ When I live my life with the understanding that God sees the inner sanctum of my heart, mind, and thoughts, I am vigilant about crucifying my sin at every turn I get. As a sinner I strive to live an upright and righteous life, but I do this clinging to the perfection of my Savior Jesus Christ.