Psalm 94:16 "Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?"
I use to want to, at some point in my past. I'm sure I must have. In my naive younger days, I know I had grandiose plans for my future. I was going to be like the apostles who turned the world upside-down. But then those days passed and other, less happy days came. Finally I was at a discouraging, all-time low.
I have been taught all my life that God is a good God, rewarding those who love Him with blessings that abound. He loves to give His good things to His good children.
But I thought maybe I had somehow fallen off the grid, because I looked at all the wicked people, and I genuinely wanted what they had! They lived long lives, full of robust health. They invested wisely and knew just when to cash out.
I mean, they had good fortune and they knew it, never passing up an opportunity to lord their successes over others' heads. Nothing bad ever happened to them, causing them to push the boundaries and break a few skulls to acquire more materialism. They had so much, they literally had "more than heart could wish".
This week I will finish Philippians and Colossians. Saturday starts December 1, and I would like to go through Proverbs, so I picked a book that has only one chapter for the last day in November.
Sunday--Philippians 4. My pastor extols people who have "steady as she goes" attitudes. That's what I thought of when I read "Let your moderation be known unto all men." I know for a fact I didn't use to be a moderate person. Every time I read a chapter, I feel God slowly bending my heart into the shape He wants it.
Monday--Colossians 1. Twice Paul says that the gospel was preached to every creature. I thought about that a minute. As far as I can tell, three times in history has every single person on earth known about God and the gospel: Creation, the Flood, and when the disciples turned the world upside-down. Now, not everyone has heard. How sad that three times Christians dropped the ball.
Tuesday--Colossians 2. I think every day this month, the word thanksgiving (or a variation of it) has been in every chapter I've read. I am so glad the reminder has been there. I am thankful I can read the Bible every day. I am thankful we can tell others about the Bible. I'm also thankful that Paul was so thankful and that he was faithful to remind us to be, also.
Wednesday--Colossians 3. Heaven-minded. Speaking truth. Merciful. Kind. Humble. Meek. Long suffering. Forgiving. Charitable. Peaceable. Thankful. Learning and teaching the Bible. Song in the heart. Too many to just remember without writing down.
Thursday--Colossians 4. I wonder if Paul was naturally good with names or if Tychicus and Onesimus had to remind him. Either way, it's an example that a good leader knows who he's leading. I would imagine that those people, hearing their names being mentioned by Paul, would be encouraged to keep doing good, and that it would make them want to encourage others to also do good.
Friday--Jude (the whole book!). Hm, everyone knows these two verses, "And of some have compassion, making a difference, and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." It seems like all that the "wise" people I know can talk about is how important compassion is and if you don't have compassion on people, you will never win them because they have to see you care first. And while I totally see their point, I know my personal preference is not to have compassion, so naturally I question their all-inclusive approach. According to Jude, you should not have compassion on everyone. So my question is, why do all the "spiritual" people I know only see this verse, and much more importantly, how will I know when to have compassion and when to "save with fear"?
Saturday I'm starting a new thing with Proverbs. Stay tuned next week to see Proverbs 1-8.
Sunday--Ephesians 3. The Ephesians' were distressed at Paul's tribulations, but all Paul could say about it was that they needed to not faint. He was more concerned that they keep their testimony than of his own persecution.
Monday--Ephesians 4. This is the perfect chapter to let you know how you should act at your job--"walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" and the entire rest of the chapter goes on to describe what your attitude should be. As a stay-at-home mom, how I do my job is very important. Seeing these qualities, meekness, love, peace, longsuffering, kindness, lived out in his mother's life will go a long way toward my son developing these qualities in his own life.
Tuesday--Ephesians 5. A lot of instruction here about how wives are supposed to be. As I read it, I kept thinking, "but I don't struggle with any of this" (and by struggle, I don't mean I am the perfect wife with the perfect husband. I mean that with as good of a leader as I have, it's easier to submit and follow). I know people who do struggle, and I remember back in college when I first got an idea to write a book on submission. I bet if I try to write a book about submission, in all my in-depth studying that will take place I will be faced with the harsh reality that I am sorely lacking.
Wednesday--Ephesians 6. Today I drove on several interstates. Traffic was worse than I thought it would be (day before Thanksgiving, duh!). I needed to read about having on armor. I know this armor isn't physically protective, but I could still feel God's protection around me (my car) as crazy people broke the law all around me--only by a miracle am I still alive!
Thursday--Philippians 1. It being the thankful month, in the back of my mind I kept wondering where this verse was: "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." I didn't wonder enough to look it up, though. Isn't it amazing how, on Thanksgiving Day, I read this verse? So much good advice in this chapter, but this was a nice reminder that God knows my thoughts even better than I do.
Friday--Philippians 2. This chapter is all about thinking about others first. I think I've gotten too caught up in doing what is best for number 1. I mean, my intentions are good for other people, I just don't use all the brain cells I have left to go that next step and ask, What will the consequences be? I need to read this chapter several more times over the next couple of days.
Saturday--Philippians 3. The word "forgiveness" is not once mentioned in this chapter, but I feel it. We should not be concerned with what we've lost, because that means we have that much more to gain for Jesus. We need to leave the past behind us--how are we supposed to do that if we haven't asked forgiveness for it?
Sunday--Galatians 2. I love how Paul was able to talk to other apostles and they decided that the others would go to the Jews and Paul would go to the heathen. I wonder why Paul went to the heathen when you would think with all his excellent training that he would be the perfect person to convince Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.
Monday--Galatians 3. I know as Christians we are God's people, but the last verse in this chapter seems to take it one more step. Paul said if we are Christ's, then we are Abraham's seed. That makes me feel so special!
Tuesday--Galatians 4. This chapter has the "adoption of sons" verses in it, but that's not what stuck out at me today. I noticed, in particular, verses 15-16. These people loved Paul so much that they would have given him their eyeballs, but he says one thing they don't like and he's suddenly the enemy? I wonder how many times I love someone until they tell me something I don't want to hear...I wonder how many people love me until I tell them something they don't want to hear.
Wednesday--Galatians 5. The fruit of the Spirit. It seems like they are listed in order of difficulty. The hardest thing of all is to love someone, truly love like Jesus loves us. Isn't it easier to be gentle and patient with someone we love? If we can keep joy and peace in our heart, won't it be so much easier to exercise temperance?
Thursday--Galatians 6. I think it's interesting that after six short chapters, Paul directs the Galatians' attention to the huge letter that he just wrote to them. It's interesting because didn't he just write two books, one with 13 chapters and one with 16, to the Corinthians? Whyever does he think 6 chapters is long? Maybe he's referring more to the content...the Corinthians needed to be woken up to the bad things they were doing. The Galatians received more doctrine to grow with.
Friday--Ephesians 1. Wow, I didn't get very far before words jumped off the page! Verse 3--spiritual blessings. During this month of giving thanks for all things, I think I get too caught up in physical blessings. Having things, going places, doing activities. This is good stuff, but when I look over my list of things I'm thankful for, more items are physical than spiritual. I need to be more thankful for my spiritual blessings. Aren't they the ones that really matter, anyway?
Saturday--Ephesians 2. I love verse 4. Every time I read it, I feel God's arms around me. The preceding verses talk about how bad I used to be, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us," forgave me! I looked up both words, grace and mercy, and I wrote down their definitions, because I can never remember which is which. Mercy is not getting what I deserve. I don't understand how He could love me so much, but I am so thankful!
This week I will finish Ezekiel. It seems like I've been reading it for forever, but the book only has 48 chapters. I am definitely ready for New Testament again, though. I will read through "guys eat pop corn" next. Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. But first, the rest of Ezekiel:
Sunday--Ezekiel 43. "The earth shined with his glory." God came to earth, and the earth shined with His glory. Appropriate verse after the message this morning about worshiping God.
Monday--Ezekiel 44. I know I have read this whole chapter together before, but I never saw this before (isn't it neat that we can read the same thing multiple times and get new things out of it continually?). Verses 20-22 tell what a priest should and shouldn't do: don't shave his head or grow his hair long, but keep it cut short; no drinking wine; no marrying anyone but a virgin or a widow of another priest (because she would have been a virgin then). My husband uses this verse about the hair to show what God approves of in "how long is too long". I have heard people argue back that this requirement was only for the priests, and no where does God command ordinary citizens to abide by this. But then you read verse 24: "And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean." The reason that the laws for the priests were so "strict" was because the priests were to be the example. If you want to know what something clean looks like so you can replicate it, it won't do much good looking at something that is slightly dirty. Even if you can't be as clean as the clean thing is, if your goal is "slightly dirty" you will NEVER be clean. God doesn't want us to strive to be "slightly dirty". "Be ye holy, as I am holy." Although in our sinful states we cannot actually attain unto the holiness that God is, if we don't even try, we definitely won't come anywhere close. 'Shew that was long!
Everyone knows the verse, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." There are two other verses close by this one that I also know, "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" and the long, "Whatsoever things are true" etc. So I can never remember the order these three verses go in. One is verse 9, one is 11, and one is 13. I should memorize verses 10 and 12, or maybe that will make it even more confusing. Okay, so I just looked them up, and the whatsoever verse isn't verse 9, it's actually verse 8. (I do know verse 9, though, because it is a Mr. E song.) I also know verse 12, and this is what I want to talk about.
Everyone turn in your Bibles to Philippians 4:11-13. Just kidding. I will tell you them:
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Verses 12 and 13 are sung by the Hitchcock family, of which we have a 90 minute CD. I made an OT CD and a NT CD for our car, but I prefer Mr. E to the Hitchcocks, so I filled the car CDs with Mr. E songs and only included the longer verses by the Hitchcocks to fill up the CDs to the full 80 minutes. These verses are on the car CD. The CD is 80 minutes, as I said, and you would think that would last a long time, but living 20 minutes from church means we go through the whole CD in two trips. I put the CD in there about a month or so ago, so if you assume we only drive the car to and from church, that means I've listened to this song 7 or 8 times in the past month. Yesterday was the first time something hit me about these verses.
I have always, always thought "I can do all things..." was a super general verse, written for anyone facing a difficult task. Which I'm sure it still is. But as I sang the words to verse 12, how to be abased, how to abound, to be full, to be hungry, to abound, to suffer need...Those are some difficult things to do, not to mention doing them all at the same time! (And if you remember from verse 11, these are the situations we need to be content in.)
I don't know about you, but I HATE to speak in public. Only with Christ's strength am I ever able to actually speak in public. As much as I need His strength for that, though, I think that I need His strength so many times more to be content in an abased, hungry, and "in need" state. Isn't that really the hardest thing our sinful souls could be asked to do? Be content no matter what? So out of all the commands in the entire Bible, isn't it interesting that God chose here to place His promise of Christ's strength?
I used to not like Paul, because I felt that he was over-preached, but I'm beginning to see that he had some pure gold nuggets. In my devotions starting this Saturday (tomorrow), I will be reading through Galatians to Colossians, and I will be keeping my eyes (and heart) peeled for more treasures like this one.
Sunday--Ezekiel 36. Israel has not done what is right, but God restores her. He makes it very clear, however, that He does it for His own name's sake, not for Israel. When God gives me good things to enjoy in life, I need to remember that He does it so others can see He is the Lord, not because I deserve it in any way.
Monday--Ezekiel 37. I love this phrase from verse 23: "I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God." After everything Israel and Judah have done, God still loves them and wants them as His! What a calm it is to me to know that He loves me just as much.
Tuesday--Ezekiel 38. God brought destruction to Gog so Israel would know He is God. God shows Himself in everything. I need to keep my eyes peeled.
Wednesday--Ezekiel 39. This chapter is chock full of words. I mean, not just words, but cool, funny words. "Stop the noses of the passengers" and "all of them fatlings". It reminds me that just because you're talking about serious stuff doesn't mean you can't be creative with your words. Not uber-spiritual, but I consider this God's way of helping me with certain aspects of my writing.
Thursday--Ezekiel 40. Part one in the description of all the measuring. He was so precise in it all. He measured the south everything, even if it looked the same size as the north, but he measured it just to make sure. After making a project without measuring first, I can look at my crooked pockets and realize how important it is. I am so glad God is not haphazard in even the little things.
Friday--Ezekiel 41. What struck me today is that God is crafty, not like, a nice word for pyscho, but rather does crafts, like me! I think it would take someone creative to think to make cherubs have two faces, and to arrange palm trees just so everywhere. I'm glad God made me crafty.
Saturday--Ezekiel 42. God's most holy place. I never really wondered before why the outer court was so large. I guess I figured so a lot of people could be in there at once. With a nation as large as Israel, it would take a super long time to get everyone through if the court were small. The very last phrase of this chapter reveals a new reason: "to make a separation between the sanctuary and the profane place." Now that's something to think about for a few minutes.
Sunday--Ezekiel 29. How many times am I tempted to claim something that I haven't done? Well, maybe not as much anymore, what with all of our President's claims to things that aren't his and all the facebook pictures and cartoons condemning him for it. But isn't making people think I'm one way when I'm really another just as bad? I fear I am guilty of this. God destroyed Egypt for it.
Monday--Ezekiel 30. By the time God is finished with the different countries, it is amazing that anyone could not believe in Him! Everything that happens to everyone happens so people may know that God is the Lord. This seems to be a theme running through the book.
Tuesday--Ezekiel 31. There is probably a reason the sweetest people, who seem the closest to God, have some superficial flaw--they aren't very pretty, or they have health problems, or something. The Assyrians were seemingly perfect. They were the biggest, prettiest, best tree in the garden, and they were proud of it. And God cut them down for their pride.
Wednesday--Ezekiel 32. There is a lot of going down into pits being slain with swords in this chapter. From what I can tell, most of it is to show Pharaoh a lesson. Maybe instead of ignoring, laughing, or judging wicked people whose lives are destroyed, I should pay attention to see if I can learn anything from it--even if it's what not to do.
Thursday--Ezekiel 33. This chapter has the watchman verse in it. In college, our "sororities/fraternities", if you will, were four groups with sort-of biblical names. Several of my friends were in the Watchmen league. Their shirts were blue. I'm sure if I had been in that league, this paragraph would probably be a little different, but either way, whenever I read this verse, all I can think of is how blue it is.
Friday--Ezekiel 34. Wow, I knew the phrase "showers of blessings" was in the Bible, I just never expected it to be in the middle of all the doom and gloom prophesies in Ezekiel! That was a pleasant surprise to read.
Saturday--Ezekiel 35. Ezekiel is prophesying against a mountain in this chapter. A mountain! Kinda strikes me as funny, but when I think about it, the trees clap their hands and the rocks cry out, the wind and sea obey Jesus. Maybe it's not so crazy that a mountain shouldn't be judged.
Sunday--Ezekiel 22. We all know this verse at the end of the chapter, "And I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none." For some reason, listening to all the sermons I've heard on this verse, I thought that it was saying that God needed someone important, someone like Ezekiel in a leadership position, to stand up and make a difference. But that's not what this verse is saying at all! God just wanted someone, anyone, to stand up and say, "I will do what's right." I'm basically a nobody, but I can determine to do what's right!
Monday--Ezekiel 23. Two interesting phrases in the middle of the chapter: first, because of her wickedness, it says of Jerusalem that "her mind was alienated from them [the wickedness]." Isn't it amazing how we can start off enjoying bad things, but eventually we can't stand to actually think about the bad stuff, even though we still do it? And the second phrase: talking about God, "then my mind was alienated from her." Even if we don't like to do bad stuff, if we still do it, God isn't going to want to dwell His thoughts upon us.
Tuesday--Ezekiel 24. So there's another reason God didn't call me to be a prophet. "So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded." Similar to martyrs--I don't know if I could do that, have that much trust in God. I would hope so.
Wednesday--Ezekiel 25. Poor Ammonites...wouldn't want to be them...
Thursday--Ezekiel 26. It's always so neat when scientists find ancient cities underground or underwater. We learn so much from them. I wonder why here, God said no one would ever find this city again.
Friday--Ezekiel 27. Tyrus sounds so wonderful. Its outside was amazing, with all the colors, and the cities round about praising it. But God destroyed them because of their inside. I know it's not wrong to look nice on the outside, but I don't ever want to get so caught up in making my outside more than presentable that I forget about my inside.
Saturday--Ezekiel 28. God talks so beautifully of Tyrus, and other cities, then BAM! they're dead. And you almost want to feel sad for them, but then the last verses of the chapter melt away any soft feelings you may have had for these other cities. God so eloquently speaks of Israel, and how safe she can be now. In my mind I see parents doting over their sleeping baby, making plans to keep her safe her whole life. God loves His children!
Who am I, you ask?
In 2006 I had a stroke, and every day my husband encourages me to use my remaining brain cells to the best of my ability. I love to organize, make crafts, and go on adventures (safe ones). I hope that through my blog posts, you will be encouraged to accept and make the best of challenges God throws at your life.