From Beginning to End

Malachi 1-4

            In the English Bible we’ve come to the last book of the Old Testament, but not for the Hebrew Bible. It’s the end of the Prophets and now the Writings start. In my Hebrew/English Bible the next page starts the Psalms then Proverbs…. The book of Malachi is filled with warnings and exhortations and many familiar and excellent verses for such a small book. He’s a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah.

            “The LORD is magnified beyond the border of Israel.” (1:5) Amen!  That’s for sure these days from those days.  Look how far from the borders of Israel He’s magnified. “If then I am the Father, where is my honor? And if I am Lord, where is my reverence?” (1:6) “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, my name shall be great among the Gentiles.” (1:11) “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” (2:10) Amen.

            “The LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce. For it covers one’s garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts.” (2:16) “Behold I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.” (3:1) “For I am the LORD, I do not change.” (3:6) Those are very simple and yet clear verses.

            “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed you? In tithe and offerings.” (3:8) This is a good question to ask children. I’ve asked some of our older kids before, and now I’m going to ask our younger children and see what response I get. 

            “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble, and the day which is coming shall burn them up,” says the LORD of hosts.” (4:1) This is certainly true, and, in some ways, THIS is the ultimate climate change and global warming some are talking about now that will one day take place.  God will purify and purge, and it won’t be by a flood the next time like he promised.

            The last two verses of Malachi 4:5,6 are quoted in Luke 1:17, when the angel told Zacharias about his son, “He will also go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.” So even though it’s not the end of the Hebrew Bible it still fits going into the English New Testament.  So does the end 2 Chronicles in Hebrew that goes into the New Testament, when Cyrus king of Persia was stirred by the LORD which says, “May the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!” (36:23) That also goes nicely with Matthew 1:23, which says, “the virgin will bear a son and call his name Immanuel, God is with us.” Same idea, God is with us and helping us (not God the flesh). “The LORD is magnified beyond the border of Israel.” (1:5) Amen! 

Stephanie Schlegel

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here – Malachi 1-4

Tomorrow we begin the NEW Testament, with Luke 1 and John 1:1-14. If you haven’t already, now would be a great time to commit to reading the New Testament before the New Year begins. Finish off 2020 strong in God’s Word. Below is the Bible reading plan we will be following with our daily devotions. Let’s seek God together!

A Family Reunion

1 Chronicles 1-2

1 Chronicles 2 1 NIV (1)

Right now family reunions look a little different as we face our current situation with Covid-19 and all that brings.  Yet there is still great joy in hearing that familiar voice on the phone or interacting with your family on Zoom or facetime.  Remember those family reunions with multiple generations where the old dusty photo albums are brought out to celebrate and learn about those who have gone before?

 

As we read the Chronicles we are reading a family reunion.

 

In our chronological Bible reading plan we have just begun the book of 2nd Samuel to read of David as king.  And, at the same time, we are reading various Psalms, many of which were written by David.  And, now, we are going to begin yet another book, 1st Chronicles, which will include several of the same stories as 2nd Samuel, and later 1st & 2nd Kings.

 

Why the overlap?

 

They were written for different people at different times, but both are still relevant to us.  The books of Samuel (originally one book) were written shortly after David’s son, Solomon’s, death, at a time when the kingdom of Israel was going to be fractured and face the tragedy of many evil kings which would ultimately lead to the downfall of their nation(s).  It was important at that time to preserve a record of how Israel became a nation with a king – and thus the book(s) of Samuel.

 

Many years later, after the Israelites had been conquered and in foreign captivity for generations, they would be preparing to return to Jerusalem and their homeland.  This was now a totally different people in a totally different situation.  They needed to be taught that they were indeed the people of God, and what that means.  They needed to be reminded of their roots.  They needed a good old family reunion.

 

Break out the photo albums, or – in this case – the genealogies!

 

I know, it’s not very exciting for us to read long lists of names, many of whom we have NO clue who they are or what they did or even how to pronounce their name.  But, if you count yourself among the people of God – this is your family tree, too!   And, you know what they say – every family tree has a few nuts.  So, indeed, this family tree has the good, the bad and the ugly.  They don’t have time or space to write of the stories for everyone, but several names bring to mind a picture of righteousness (Noah, Abraham, Joseph and David).  Other times the writer takes the time to remind his family reunion participants of the sad lessons learned from those who had strayed:

 

1st Chronicles 2:3 – “Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death.”

 

1st Chronicles 2:7 – “The son of Carmi: Achar, who brought trouble on Israel by violating the ban on taking devoted things.”

 

So, dig in – enjoy your little trip down the Israelite memory lane today – there will be more on Friday.  And, pause to think, just how do you fit into God’s family tree?

 

Also – now is a good time to reconnect with your more immediate family too (maybe 3-4 current generations, what about your church family, too)  Check in on them and share how God is blessing you today.  See what God is teaching them today.

 

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be found at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Chronicles+1-2&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be back in the Psalms (43-45, 49, 84-85, 87) – we will save more of the genealogies for Friday.  Continue on the journey with us by printing your own copy of our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan – and keep reading His Word to you.

God’s Presence and the Exile

 

Text: Ezekiel 11

Ezekiel 11 19

This week so far, we’ve talked about creation, the garden, and the tabernacle, exploring how they fit into the theme and story of God’s presence. Today I want to talk about exile, or that feeling you get when you know you aren’t home, and things aren’t right. It’s an ongoing theme for the Israelites. We see it when Adam and Eve are kicked out of the garden, we see it when the Israelites are held captive in Egypt, and now we’re going to see it again as Israel and Judah are given into the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians.

 

Let’s do a quick fly-by to bring us to this point from where we left off in history. Moses and the Israelites wander around in the desert for a while and eventually reach their promised land in Canaan. The Israelites capture the land under the leadership of Joshua. After Joshua, Israel is led by a series of Judges, people who get Israel out of a bind after they have been stupid over and over (and over) again. After that, Israel is brought together under the kingships of Saul, David, and Solomon. David, like Moses, receives plans for a temple from God, and his son, Solomon completes them, the difference being that Solomon’s temple was much more grand and permanent than Moses’s tent. Moving on, after Solomon’s death, the people divide into northern (Israel) and southern (Judah) kingdoms.

 

God’s people at this point have an ongoing problem. They aren’t following their covenant with God. They prostitute themselves to other gods. Even under dire warnings (Dt 29 and Jer 25, among many others), they continue to make their own way. They aren’t even getting along with each other, hence the divided kingdom. They simply do not get the point, and as a result, God, even while being slow to anger (Exo 34:6), has reached a point where he has to serve justice. And by that, I mean allow Assyrians and Babylonians to come clean house on them.

 

And clean house they do. Israel is pummeled and scattered by the Assyrians. Judah is taken by the Babylonians. King Nebuchadnezzar sieges Jerusalem in about 598 BC and 587 BC, taking the people of Judah into captivity. The second time, the temple of Solomon is destroyed, too. You can find a particularly devastating account of this siege in Jeremiah 52. It’s great bedtime reading for all the kids.

 

What. In. The. World. At this point, it would sure seem like God’s people are done for. They had a pretty good run, but this must be the end.

 

But not all is lost. In Ezekiel 11:16-20, God shows Ezekiel a glimmer of hope, and has him relay the message to the others who are in exile. Even though they are scattered and captive, God is still their sanctuary (or their temple, if you will). He is going to give them back their land, and turn their hearts of stone soft. They’re going to be his people, and he’s going to be their God. Yet, in verses 22 and 23, God shows Ezekiel that his presence is leaving the temple, in the form of a strange cherubim-driven chariot. So God’s not even in his temple anymore, but he’s still with a few of his faithful people who are in exile, sustaining them.

 

Through Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, among others, we see God making some pretty big promises about coming out of exile, a new temple, a messianic king, and a renewed rule (kingdom) of God, for starters. But for the time being, exile is the reality for God’s people.

 

The Persians eventually conquer the Babylonians in 539 BC, and Cyrus the Great allows the Israelites in exile to go home if they want. Only a small portion go back. Maybe now things will get better, back to the good old days. We can get a new king, build the temple again, and God will be with us. We’ll have rest from our enemies.

 

And they do rebuild the temple (see Ezra and Nehemiah about all of this), but it isn’t anything near what it used to be (Hag 2:3), and there is no indication that God’s presence ever fills it like the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple. Something is still not right. God’s people are back to their land, but it doesn’t really feel like home. They are struggling to find their identity again. They’re still not following God’s covenant. Where’s God? What is going on? It’s like the exile never really ended. And perhaps it still hasn’t ended. It has, at best, been replaced by new exiles into new Babylons over the centuries, and that’ll likely be what we continue to see until everything is restored.

 

If this whole thing makes you feel a little bummed, that’s just a taste of the exile feeling. The exile was massively painful for God’s people, and so much of scripture is dedicated to wrestling with the questions and emotions brought up by it. According to many, the narrative of scripture is shaped around it. And exile isn’t just the experience of Israel, it is a reality we share in, as well. While we give Caesar his due, really we are citizens of God’s dimension, heaven (Phil 3:20). So we remain faithful to our God, and hold on to a hope that there is something better just around the corner.

 

“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” -Malachi 4:2

 

I hope that verse made you smile as it made me smile. There’s hope and a new day. There is indeed a new temple for the Israelites, with the presence of God, even. But it’s not the kind they’re expecting. More on this tomorrow.

 

-Jay Laurent

Preparing for the King

_Let every heart prepare him room_

Yesterday we looked at how we should anticipate the King and His second advent just like the Wise Men anticipated His first advent. We now have our own “Star” to turn our eyes towards and to follow. Today we will look at how the Old Testament prepared the way for our Lord and how we now have the same opportunity to prepare the way for His second coming and how we need to be prepared and ready.

 

It’s Christmas Eve and we are almost to Christmas day, the day we have been preparing for at least the past month. Whether we are going out to buy that last minute gift, or we are getting food ready for Christmas day, we are all probably busy preparing in some way today. I am constantly reminded of the forefathers of our faith in the Old Testament who gave us a little glimpse of the coming Christ and helped to prepare the world for him.

 

Joseph, for example, was left for dead by his brothers and when given the opportunity to get his brothers back he had mercy on them, and then he gave credit to God, saying “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” –Gen 50:20.   Jesus was placed on a cross by the very people of whom He was supposed to be the King, yet during his pain and agony he said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34

 

Moses delivered the Israelites from pharaoh and his army. Likewise, Christ delivered the world from death and sin for those who choose to follow him. Abraham followed the commands of God and left his home country, and later was willing to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac.  God was willing to provide Jesus, His son, as a sacrifice for us. The list goes on and on, but the point of mentioning these patriarchs is to recognize that they were preparing the way for the Lord and showing us a glimpse of what was to come.

Christmas is a reminder to us also, that as we prepare for our celebration tomorrow, we also need to believe that Jesus will come back to this earth (maybe tomorrow) and in the same way prepare ourselves and our hearts for his coming and the great celebration. When I think of being prepared I am reminded of the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25.

1“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9“ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. Matthew 25:1-13

None of the ten knew when the bridegroom was coming, they only knew that he was coming. When he did come, five were wise and five were foolish. The only difference between the wise and foolish was in their preparation, or lack thereof. We have the same privilege as our patriarchs of knowing that Jesus is coming, yet it’s left up to each one of us to choose whether we will be prepared. I promise you that it’s a celebration you do not want to miss out on!

 

“Let every heart prepare Him room”.

 

-Luke Elwell

IN HIS WORD – The Prophets

2 peter 1 19

This week we are working our way through the Old Testament Bible divisions in order to get a clearer picture of God’s whole story unfolding.  I apologize for not getting it sent out every day as planned.  It’s been a full week getting ready for FUEL 2018!!   I can’t wait to see some of you very shortly!  But, for now – we will finish up our overview of the Old Testament Bible divisions.  5, 12, 5, 5, 12 comes in handy to remember the number of books in each division.

5 books of LAW – Beginnings…leading up to the Exodus, and the law

12 books of HISTORY – Israel’s history – into the Promised Land, kings, exile, and return

5 books of POETRY – Praising & trusting God, wisdom explained and other deep thoughts

5 books of MAJOR PROPHETS –  Speaking for God, even in difficult times

12 books of MINOR PROPHETS – Still speaking – Still important — but not as much written down .   (these books are just shorter than the major prophets)

So in this devotion we will take a look at the 17 books of prophecy.  Sometimes prophecy is understood as just foretelling the future.  These books do indeed do that.  But the whole definition of Prophet is larger than that – it is the act of someone speaking for – in this case – God Almighty.

Sometimes it is exciting speaking for God – especially when exciting things are coming.  It is exciting telling people that God is love and He sent His Son for our salvation and Jesus will come again to set up a Kingdom on Earth.  But, sometimes when God would have his prophets speak, there are some pretty big storm clouds rolling in – often because of the sinful disobedience of his people.  In many of these books of prophecy the chosen prophet has the job of warning the backsliding nation of destruction and exile coming their way because they did not repent and turn from their ungodly ways.  The prophet tells them the price that will be paid for their selfish and worldly decision.  AND – the prophet also often gets to tell what is beyond the storm clouds – what will happen to those who remain faithful or those who go through the exile – what blessings come after the storm.

In the New Testament Peter does a great job explaining the role of the prophet:  “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.  Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.   For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19-21).

So many times we think we want God to speak to us in an audible voice – if only we could hear what He wants us to do, we think.  And yet, we ignore what He has spoken through the prophets.  If you are ready to listen to God – open your Bible!  Here’s just a little bit about what you will find from God in the books of Prophecy.

 

5 Books of MAJOR PROPHETS

ISAIAH – A Coming Messiah Will Save from Sins

Called the 5th Gospel because it includes so much about the Coming Messiah – Jesus

JEREMIAH – God is Just and Must Punish Sin

Jeremiah (along with King Josiah) urged people to repent – he was persecuted under King Jehoiakim, then he witnessed fall of Jerusalem with King Zedekiah

LAMENTATIONS – Jeremiah Cries over Jerusalem’s Fall

The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, writes this poem as he watches Jerusalem be destroyed by the Babylonians – exactly as he had prophesied for God

EZEKIEL – Visions and Symbolism of a Sovereign God

Ezekiel was called to be a watchman – to warn of coming judgments, and then consolation – visions of the valley of dry bones

DANIEL –  Dare to be a Follower of God

Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego remain loyal to God while exiled in a foreign land – Final 6 chapters include “End Times” prophesies

 

12 Books of MINOR PROPHETS

HOSEA – God’s Undying Love and Faithfulness -Hosea marries Gomer the prostitute

JOEL – Plague of Locusts Warn of God’s Coming Judgment

AMOS – God’s Judgment on Injustice

OBADIAH – Edom will be Judged (only 21 verses)

JONAH – God’s Prophet Speaks to Ninevah – Eventually, after the help of a storm and great fish

MICAH – Idolatry and Injustice Will Bring Suffering

NAHUM – Ninevah Revisited

HABAKKUK – It’s Not Fair – But Have Faith – God Answers Habakkuk’s questions

ZEPHANIAH – Warnings and a Future Hope

HAGGAI – Put God’s Work First

ZECHARIAH – Rebuild and Get Ready for the Messiah

MALACHI – My Messenger

Many of the prophecies in these books have already come true – and some we can see taking shape today – and some are still in the future.  There are many prophecies in the Old Testament of a savior for the world – and a Coming Kingdom.  We can be sure this book (The whole Bible) is reliable and true and oh so worthy of our time, respect, study and love.  It is God speaking to you – and to me.  To love Him is to love His Words.   If you are ready to love God – get IN HIS WORD!

 

Marcia Railton

(Thank you for reading this week as we discussed the Old Testament.  This coming week we have the pleasure of having devotions with Aaron Winner on the theme for FUEL 2018 – MISSION.  After that, we will discuss an overview of the New Testament.  Stay in His Word!)

In His Word – HIS-STORY

2 sam 7 28a

History was always one of my favorite subjects in school.  So many stories, so many time periods, so many real characters who have lived through so many unique situations, and some who even grew through their experiences.  The things we can learn through a great history book are amazing.  And, just as amazing – the fact that through it ALL – there has been ONE God of this universe.  In every event everywhere and at every time – He has been there – and will be there.

 

And yet, there has been one special place, one special people that God has taken a very special interest in – and that is the land and people of Israel.  It is this history that was preserved for us and makes up the second division of the Old Testament – the 12 books of History – the history of God’s chosen people as a nation.

 

So much can still be learned today about God and mankind by reading these historical accounts.  Go ahead – pick a book and get a glimpse into His Story.

 

12 BOOKS OF OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY 

 

JOSHUA – The Lord Gives Victory in Canaan

Joshua leads Israel into the Promised Land – Rahab is saved, walls of Jericho, sun stands still

JUDGES – Israel Led by Judges

Cycles of sin and rebellion – enemies surround – Israel calls out to God – God sends a judge to save – people repent and serve God, until….cycle repeats.  Some of the judges were Samson, Gideon, Deborah, and Ehud.

RUTH – Faithful Daughter-in-Law – and Faithful God

Ruth, a Moabite, is loyal to Naomi her Jewish mother-in-law and God takes care of them

I & II SAMUEL – Samuel Anoints Israel’s 1st & 2nd King

Hannah’s son Samuel raised by the priest Eli – He anoints Saul, then David as kings – we also meet Goliath, Jonathan, Bathsheba and Nathan

I & II KINGS – Israel Splits and is Captured

King Solomon, kingdom divides (Northern Israel, Southern Judah), many bad kings (like Ahab),  some good kings (like Josiah), and God’s prophets (like Elijah)

I & II CHRONICLES – Judah’s Kings – Repeated

Retelling of Judah’s history – Adam to King David to Jerusalem’s destruction to King Cyrus permitting Jews to return to rebuild Jerusalem

EZRA – Exiles Rebuild Temple

Returning Jews rebuild Jerusalem’s temple and Ezra teaches them how to seek God

NEHEMIAH – Rebuilding City Walls

Nehemiah leads the Jews as they rebuild the walls of Jerusalem through much opposition

ESTHER – Jewish Girl Becomes Queen and Saves Jews

Brave, beautiful Esther, Cousin Mordecai, King Xerxes, evil Haman, 3 days of prayer and fasting, Jews are saved, new national holiday

 

 

Read some HIS-STORY today – the best is in God’s Word!

Marcia Railton

Living Words

Acts 7-8

acts_waterdrop

Wednesday, June 7

Stephen had an interesting life that was cut way too short.  I wonder what would have happened had he lived longer?  How many more people could he have reached?  I admire the way he knew his Old Testament history.  Beginning with Abraham leaving his country, Stephen then recounts stories of Isaac and Joseph and Moses.

 

In verse 38 of Chapter 7, it tells us of the living words Moses received to pass on to us.  These words are still being passed on to this day.  Even when people hear the living words, they have a choice of what to do.  Back in Moses’ day, these living words were rejected.  The people refused to obey and in their hearts turned back to Egypt (7:39).  How have you heard the living words and what has your response been?  Are you listening to these words or rejecting them?

 

I respect the courage Stephen had in saying what needed to be said even if it meant angering those who could kill him.  Even as he was being stoned, he was full of the Holy Spirit and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  Stephan prayed that the Lord Jesus would receive his spirit and he asked him to not hold this sin against them.  This is an example of an extremely dedicated and devoted man of God.  How many of us can praise God as Stephan did while being persecuted?

 

While Godly men buried Stephen, Saul began to destroy and persecute the church.  Tomorrow we will hear more about Saul and his stories.

 

-Jason Railton

 

 

 

Cease to do Evil – Learn to do Good

Isaiah 1-3

isaiah-1-18

Sunday, February 5

The Old Testament is split up into five major categories: (5) Law, (12) History, (5) Poetry, (5) Major Prophets, and (12) Minor Prophets. Isaiah is the first book of the Major Prophets.  The word “prophet” occurs 324 times in the Old Testament alone.  Therefore, it is no doubt that whatever a prophet is, it is important.  A prophet is simply someone who speaks on behalf of God.  Isaiah then is someone who spoke for God, so the word Isaiah spoke had authority.

Isaiah begins his writing by stating all the wickedness that is being done by the people of Israel, God’s chosen nation.  Verses 2-15 go into detail as to what they were doing.  However, I want to take note at verses 16 and 17 of the first chapter.  Verses 16 and 17 are Isaiah’s (really God’s) call to repentance.  There are two main steps to this call for repentance.  Step one found in verse 16: “cease to do evil.”  Step two found in verse 17: “learn to do good.”  These are the two fundamental steps to repentance that Isaiah pleads the Israelites pursue.  The Israelites need to rid themselves of all the wickedness they are doing as was stated in the first 15 verses.  However, this is just the first step to repentance.  After they rid themselves of evil, they must then learn to do good.  Once the evil is removed from one’s life, they must then fill it with something good.  If not, then they will fall into the same pattern of sin.  This is an oft neglected part of repentance.  This completely applies to us over 2,000 years later.  To repent, we must cease to do evil and learn to do good.  If we do this, then our sins, “shall be as white as snow,” (Isaiah 1:18).  What a beautiful reward.

Something that caught my eye in chapter two was the end of verse 9.  It clearly stated, “do not forgive them!”  What a bold statement that is from Isaiah (and again, really God), and a rather controversial one in modern Christianity.  Once again, Isaiah goes on about how the Israelites are sinning.  It appears as if they have not repented and continue in their wicked ways.  Isaiah then declares not to forgive them!  This is contrary to what many modern Christians think.  There is a nasty word floating around that is being connected to Christians nowadays with movements such as the LGBT.  That nasty word that people are throwing at Christians is “tolerate”.  Many believe that the duty of a Christian is to tolerate and “love”.  Nowhere in the Bible is this message of “toleration” found.  Rather, there are passages such as Isaiah 2:9 which state, “do not forgive them!”  These Israelites that Isaiah is describing are sinning without any signs of repentance.  Isaiah doesn’t go on to tell others to accept and tolerate them for who they are as idol worshippers.  Instead, he blatantly states to not forgive them.  It appears from this verse alone that we should not be tolerating other people who live a life of sin.  However, this is just one verse, and you should rely on the Bible as a whole to make decisions such as this.  Therefore, I encourage you to look more into this, and I just think you might be convinced that the message of “tolerate” is ridiculous.

I hope you all have a splendid week and I look forward to starting off the Major Prophets with you all!

-Kyle McClain

No “Works Cited” In Prayer!

Psalms 85-89

psalm86_11

Monday, January 9

Have you ever stopped to think about copyrighting? In our world, even words can be trademarked and copyrighted. For example, if I was going to start making a comic called “Superheroes of Scripture” (which would be awesome), I would be infringing on the trademarked word “superhero”, a trademark of Marvel and DC Comics. That’s pretty impressive that the word “superhero” can’t be used in a product that you desire to sell unless approved by Marvel/DC! Also, if I use someone else’s words or even information in a paper for school, it is considered stealing unless I cite my source. (I know my seniors doing research papers understand the pain of a “Works Cited” page.)
However, the authors of Scripture felt no such compunction to cite their sources or honor “copyrights” of previous authors. You’ll see tons of quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament, when you get there. But there will be parts without quotes that you may recognize were pulled out of the OT without a reference to the original author. The authors of Scripture quoted, summarized, paraphrased and referenced previous books of Scripture with abandon, because the books and words were part of how they thought.
A prime OT example of this is Psalm 86:15. The author (David, here) writes “But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth.” If you have been following along since August, you may catch what is being referenced. Know what it is? It is Exodus 34:6 – “Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: Yahweh—Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth…”  In this Psalm, David turns the narrative of Yahweh passing in front of Moses, hidden in the cleft, into a prayer. YOU, Yahweh, are compassionate and gracious, etc. David knew that this was written before, but he is not writing something new, he is not breaking ground, he is using what God has already said about Godself to speak to God.
We can do the same. Sometimes, we have no words to say about God or our words to God sound so small. I’ve been there; thinking that what can I say to God? If you don’t know where to begin to pray, one of the best places is to look to Scripture and use the words you find there to pray. We have permission to pray using the words of Scripture in the Psalms and the Psalms themselves are great passages to use. If your prayer life is struggling, or if you are wanting to grow closer to God, may using God’s own words bless you!
-Jake Ballard
Pastor Jake attended Atlanta Bible College, and has been a professor there in the past. He would like to encourage those who want to know more about the Bible, about leadership and about Christian Spirituality, to get in contact with the college. It is a wonderful opportunity, and if you are one of those juniors or seniors working on research papers, as you are applying to and investigating different college options, don’t forget ABC!
(Photo credit: http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/psalm86_11.html)