Ezekiel 29:1-30:26 + Hebrews 11:32-12:13 + Psalm 112:1-10 + Proverbs 27:17
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There are a lot of great teachings in today's readings! Particularly Hebrews is packed with good teachings! (and thus, get ready for a lengthy post here today... :) Are you ready to learn from Jesus today? And the Old Testament scrolls? Below is an image of Jesus teaching from the scrolls of the Old Testament in the Temple:
Old Testament - Ezekiel chapters 29 & 30 are fascinating in that we are seeing God lay out the plans for Egypt's transformation from being one of the most powerful nations in the world to one of the least powerful - but God does provide some redemption for Egypt after 40 years of hardship. However, God says that Egypt will never again reach the heights of power in the world that it had under the Pharaohs. Verse 14 in chapter 29 captures this: "I will restore the prosperity of Egypt and bring its people back to the land of Pathros in southern Egypt from which they came. But Egypt will remain an unimportant, minor kingdom." Very interesting to reflect on this.
Verse 7 in chapter 29 stands out as to why God is unhappy with Egypt (in part - idols are another reason...) - "Israel leaned on you, but like a cracked staff, you splintered and stabbed her in the armpit. When she put her weight on you, you gave way, and her back was thrown out of joint." God was not happy that Israel created an alliance with Egypt as we read earlier in Ezekiel - but at the same time, God was not happy with Egypt for bailing on the alliance when Babylon attacked Jerusalem. Think God likes for us to keep our promises in our life? Do you keep your promises in your life? Are you careful to never make empty promises?
The end of chapter 29 is fascinating in that God decides to allow Babylon to take plunder from Egypt in light of its war against Tyre (see yesterday's readings below). We continue to see that God is using King Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon for His purposes - for a time. We are reminded though at the end of this chapter in verse 21 - "And the day will come when I will cause the ancient glory of Israel to revive." God's still got the redemption of Israel in mind... Below is a map of how big the Babylonian empire is around this timeframe - (a map like this one below once again proves the amazing truth & history in God's words and prophecies in the Bible...)
New Testament - Hebrews chapter 11 verses today finish out this chapter on "faith" strongly! Please take a minute to re-read this entire chapter 11 if you can. It is an amazing chapter of our spiritual ancestor's faith. How does reading about our spiritual ancestor's faith speak into your life today? Are there areas of your life where you can better live with faith? Can you turn over your fears and anxieties to God, in faith? Knowing, in faith, God will ultimately provide and thus there is nothing to fear or worry about today?
Hebrews 11 verse 38 stands out to me today: "They were too good for this world." I think it is helpful to remember that this current world is not our ultimate eternal home. It is temporary. We're called to be saints and love others in this world. But, we should not become too attached to it or what it offers. God has a better home for us in mind at the end of our race - our journey through this life. This verse says that our spiritual ancestors were too good for this world - and hence, many of them suffered. But they suffered knowing it was temporary. Impermanent. I don't think that this verse should make us conceited or arrogant in any way - being "too good" for this world - but hopefully it helps us realize that this life is not necessarily going to be easy in this world if we are truly living in faith.... In fact, sometimes I wonder that if our life is really easy if we are really living our faith? I just hope we never get complacent and chill out and relax because "we are so saved".... There is a dying world out there that needs us! How are you truly living your life in faith these days?
Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1 is phenomenal to think about - "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress." I think sometimes we think that we are doing this Christian walk / faith thing alone. We think we are in this alone - just us & God. I think this verse helps remind us that there is a huge crowd of witnesses that are in this with us. I like to think of this cloud of witnesses cheering us on in our walk! They are rooting for us! So - in light of knowing we have these saints rooting for us, doesn't it make sense that we should strip away sin that hinders our walk? Is there sin your life that is hindering your walk? Will you allow Jesus to strip it away so that the cloud of witnesses can continue to cheer you on toward the finish line? Below is an image of some of the "crowd of witnesses" to our life of faith - Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samson, and David:
How do we run this race toward the finish line well? I think verse 2 tells us how - "We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish." Are your eyes on Jesus? Constantly? Does your faith depend solely on Jesus? Is your faith as fresh today as when you first came to faith in Jesus?
Verse 3 is a powerful reflection of Jesus' passion.... "Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don't become weary and give up." Think about what Jesus endured at the hands of the Roman guards. Think about Jesus' resolve. He was running the race toward the finish line. Can reflecting on Jesus' passion help us resist becoming weary and giving up? How often do you reflect on Jesus' passion?
Verses 5 & 6 quote Proverbs 3:11-12 and the following verses then go into explaining this wisdom of this Proverb - "My child, don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children." Do you believe this proverb to be true? Is the Lord perhaps disciplining you in some way today? Are you accepting or ignoring the discipline? Do you believe that the Lord disciplines those he loves? And that this "divine discipline" is ultimately good for you and everyone you come in contact with in your life?
Psalms - Psalm 112 is a great look at a godly person's life. Today in verse 1 we read: “Blessed is the person who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands.” Is fear of the Lord healthy? Why or why not? Is fear of the Lord the beginning of wisdom? Are you blessed if you fear the Lord? Do you find great delight in God’s commands? What are God’s commands?
Verse 4 stands out - "When darkness overtakes the godly, light will come bursting in." This is encouraging. When darkness overtakes us, if we stay true to God and Christ and faith, light will come "bursting in"! I like that... Know that the light is coming... Below is a fresco from 1517 by Raffaello of God separating the light from the darkness -
And verse 9 is a great reminder - "They give generously to those in need." Are you doing something in your life to serve the poorest of the poor? There are 1.2 billion people living in our world today on less than $1 per day. Is there something you can do to give generously to those in need? Below is an oil on canvas painting from 1611 by Bartolomeo Schedoni titled "The Charity" -
Proverbs - Today in Proverbs 27:17 we read: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” This is such a powerful proverb to memorize, meditate upon, and put into practice in our lives! Do you see the value in this proverb? Are you “iron” in someone else’s life? Is someone "iron" in your life? Are you being sharpened? Why would you want to be sharpened? Is there some dullness spiritually in your life today? How will you seek to sharpen that dullness? Will you seek to sharpen that dullness through involvement in a local church? Do you think that a church community can sharpen you? Do you think involvement in a weekly small group can sharpen you?
Worship Video: Our Hebrews 12:5-6 readings today about discipline and Psalm 112:4 reminded me of Josh Turner's fantastic song "Long Black Train." This song is basically a country & western worship tune! :) "There is victory in the Lord! Don't go riding on that long black train!"
Have you experienced victory in the Lord? Click here for Victory!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)
Prayer Point: Pray that you are running the race of life marked out for you, fixing your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. Pray in thanksgiving for the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds you in your race!
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you from today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
Grace, love, peace, and joy!
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