Stability in Hard Times

Isaiah 33

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Jesus and Paul would echo the admonition at the beginning of this chapter: “Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged” (Matt. 7:2). “You will always reap what you sow” (Gal 6:7).

There are images of stability as verse 6. The Hebrew word for “times,” et, means “a particular time or season of life.” The “times” of your life are set against larger, ill-defined, hostile, “hard times” from the world. Enemy eras will not be able to cross the sacred boundaries of your soul, because you are finding stability through the Spirit’s gifts of wisdom and knowledge.

Jerusalem will be firm with strong stakes and cords to prevent her from being blown away by enemies from without. What do you need to do to set the stakes of your life’s tent more securely?


Mondays are dedicated to the Prophets
In the season of Kingdomtide this year, we read Isaiah chapters 28 to 39.

For the Firestarters and readings for everyday over the three-year cycle, see “Ebook and Paperback” in the menu options.   The ebook costs only $6.00.  I have it on my phone and can go right to the Firestarter for the day.  It’s a marvelous daily devotional and resource for Bible Study groups.  Pastors will find it an excellent resource as seeds for sermons. –Pastor Nick

Rock of Safety

Psalm 31

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Ingredients of David’s pain flow out from him with abandon, mingling with verses that celebrate the comfort he finds in the Lord’s protection. Be aware of the intimacy that David has with God—the tenderness in his pleas that need to sweeten your own petitions in prayer.

The verse for the day was on the lips of Jesus and Stephen at the moment of their deaths (Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59). From verse 9, there comes a series of statements that can be applied to the most abject of society through your intercessory prayer.

The Lord as a rock of safety is the first of the images of protection David uses. Find others with which your soul especially relates, writing them down on post-it notes to stick in places where you can see them in the course of the day; these will be places to rest on the rock of safety, which is the Lord.

Wednesdays are dedicated to the Psalms. For the Firestarters and readings for everyday over the three-year cycle, see “Ebook and Paperback” in the menu options.   The ebook costs only $6.00.  I have it on my phone and can go right to the Firestarter for the day.  It’s a marvelous daily devotional and resource for Bible Study groups.  Pastors will find it an excellent resource as seeds for sermons. –Pastor Nick

Fire-Seeds

Matthew 13:31—33; 44—52

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Jesus presents five images as ways to understand the Kingdom of Heaven. All of them, especially the first four, have something in common. What is it? A hint: Firestarters might be included in the list.

The first two illustrations are similar: something small becomes big over time. The flowers that are delighting your summer were once seeds in the ground. Each day they were stitched from within until their leaves and petals played in the sun. The persistence of planted seeds has something to do with the Kingdom of Heaven: it grows inside of you.

The time you spend with the Word each day is as a fire-seed for what can grow within you during the day, then day after day, until your whole life is bathed in the awareness that God is reigning, protecting, covering, and directing your life. What other words and images can you discover to express what the Kingdom means to you?


This plan on Sundays follows the Lectionary Gospels. For the Firestarters and readings for everyday over the three-year cycle, see “Ebook and Paperback” in the menu options.   The ebook costs only $6.00.  I have it on my phone and can go right to the Firestarter for the day.  It’s a marvelous daily devotional and resource for Bible Study groups.  Pastors will find it an excellent resource as seeds for sermons. –Pastor Nick

Spirit-Water

John 7:37-39

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In seasons of drought, there are strict limits on the use of water. Even then, extreme scarcity of water in affluent countries is non-existent. This is not the case for the Middle East in ancient times. For the Hebrew people, water was a blessing from God, especially manifest during the years of wandering in the desert when miracle-water from the rock flowed.

The great autumn festival of Tabernacles celebrates all these years of wandering. On the last day of this feast, the priest would walk about the altar with water freshly drawn. Today rabbis pray for rain at the close of this
festival.

Picture the Temple with Jesus standing amid the crowd as the ritual of water takes place. He has overturned the money tables in chapter 2 at the Passover Festival. Now he breaks in upon the singing crowd with the ear-piercing cry of verse 38. “Let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”


The above Firestarter was for Pentecost Sunday,  Year A. For the Firestarters and readings for every day over the three-year cycle, see “Ebook and Paperback” in the menu options.   The ebook costs only $6.00.  I have it on my phone and can go right to the Firestarter for the day.  It’s a marvelous daily devotional and resource for Bible Study groups.  –Pastor Nick

When Love is Absent

Job 6—8

God will yet fill your mouth with laughing,
and your lips with rejoicing. 8:21

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Though Job is filled with immense pain, anguish, and anger, there is beauty in the poetry that flows from his mouth.

Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 8:1 apply to the attitude of Job’s friends: “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” Love, not knowledge, is greater than evil. All the truth in the world, without love, amounts to nothing—amounts to evil. The absence of love allows evil to rush into the vacuum created. In all of Bildad’s judgmental words about Job and his wrongs, Bildad fails to see the arrogance of evil imbedded in his own loveless heart.

If you were to write or cry out the current “chapter” in your life just as Job does in his, how would the words flow? Will you trust the Lord and pour out your heart in prayer, sharing with the Lord how you feel about all aspects of your life?

The above Firestarter is from Tuesday of The Third Week in Lent, Year A. For the Firestarters and readings for every day over the three-year cycle, see “Ebook and Paperback” in the menu options.   The ebook costs only $6.00.  I have it on my phone and can go right to the Firestarter for the day.  It’s a marvelous daily devotional and resource for Bible Study groups.  –Nick

Face to Face

Jeremiah 1—3

“Return, O backsliding children,”
says the LORD, “for I am married to you.” 3:14

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Of all the feats that skiers do in the Olympics, no one has ever attempted to ski backwards. Yet this catches the essence of the Biblical concept of meshubah “backsliding.” Of the twelve times that the noun is used in the Bible, nine of them are found in Jeremiah.

When we turn our eyes away from the Lord, it is impossible not to fall—literally sliding down on one’s back, feet sprawled in mid-air. To repent means to turn back again, with eyes and life totally focused upon God.

The Lord will pound away at your heart through Jeremiah these Mondays of Lent, until you stop, pick yourself up, and turn back again, face to face with the Lord, the spouse of your soul. Listen with the same energy as Jeremiah speaking.

The above Firestarter is from Monday of The First Week in Lent, Year A. For the Firestarters and readings for every day over the three-year cycle, see “Ebook and Paperback” in the menu options.   The ebook costs only $6.00.  I have it on my phone and can go right to the Firestarter for the day.  It’s a marvelous daily devotional and resource for Bible Study groups.  –Nick

 

 

Your Nine-to-Five Job

For the Firestarters and readings for everyday over the three-year cycle, see “Ebook and Paperback” in the menu options.   The ebook costs only $6.00.  I have it on my phone and can go right to the Firestarter for the day.  It’s a marvelous daily devotional and resource for Bible Study groups. Below is a sample –Nick

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. vv. 22–23

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“Practical Applications for Life:” such is this third and final division of Paul’s letter to the churches in theprovince of Galatia. Freedom and bondage; life and death: these are the two polarities. Ask the Lord to show you whether you are clinging to the freedom the Lord Jesus gives, or are losing the grip, swept away and bound up in external legalism. The opening inspiration is meant to startle you.

In freedom, you do the clinging; in bondage, an outside force does the clinging to you. God welcomes us to cling to the cross of Jesus to protect us from the vicious tide of evil that seeks to sweep us away.
Here is your “nine-to-five job:” take one of the nine fruits of the Spirit for each hour. The Spirit will birth them in you, one hour at a time.