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.

 

 

The Spirit Breaks In

Joshua 6—8

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Do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout.
Then shout. 6:10

Jericho is taken, not by worldly strategies, but in the Lord’s unique way. It is time for what is “Jericho” in you to fall. Do some walking today in silence. Do not talk. It is Advent. Wait upon the Lord. Allow God to tell you when to make a move with your mouth. The decisive moment will come when God prompts you to speak
or shout, breaking in upon any lying spirit that may lurk within your heart behind walls that need to fall. Like the shout when a karate chop breaks wood, let the Spirit break open the stuck and stubborn stuff in your spirit.

The Israelites hoarded enemy treasures intended only for the Lord. They were powerless before their enemies until they repented and released these treasures. Is there anything that you are clinging to or hoarding that belongs to the Lord?

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. –Nick

Shock Treatment

Micah 1—2
I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob, I will gather the survivors of Israel;
I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture. 2:12

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Waves of judgment and compassion clash against each other throughout Micah’s prophecy. His poetry and personal gestures are as shock treatments. He walks through the streets naked to awaken people from the evil of idolatry. The English translation misses the impact of Micah’s word-plays on the names of cities. For example, Achzib means “Town of Deceit.”

The ultimate intent of God is that there be repentance and not punishment for the evils against the First Commandment. There is the promise intimated here and prophesied later more fully, of a Shepherd King that will come to redeem. With this image, God dismisses the charges against the people and instead, comes to their aid.

Is there anything that you are doing that you need to be shocked into undoing?

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. –Nick

From the Belly

Jonah 1—2

I called to the LORD out of my distress, and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 2:2

God’s heart is warm and tender to Nineveh—Jonah’s is not. God singles out for salvation, this pagan capital of the empire that wreaked havoc on the Israelites from the ninth to the seventh centuries B.C. Jonah flees to Spain—the ends of the earth—refusing to be involved with God’s mercy on a city Jonah hates. However, wherever he goes, Jonah brings faith in the God of the Hebrews. The Phoenician sailors cry out to God whom they have come to know by someone avoiding doing God’s will. Even the great fish obeys and throws up!

God’s patience with the prophet rivals God’s patience with Nineveh. Is there something that you know way down in your own belly that you are called to do and are avoiding? Even greater than flight away from God’s
will is God’s pursuit of you until you complete what God wants.

The Breath of God Upon the Ashes

This post is also posted on “Wesley Without Walls,” an internet Bible Study hosted by Google Groups.  If you wish to join this group, just write to me at njconnolly7@gmail.com, including how it is that you would like to be part of the group.  -Pastor Nick


 

At The Lakehurst United Methodist Church, there are two Bible study groups that meet to ponder  and discuss the Wednesday and Friday readings for Lent from The Bible Through the Seasons.  Below are the Firestarters and readings for  the Second Week in Lent which begins on Sunday, Feb. 21.

Psalm 131

Total Satisfaction

Does it stretch the imagination to link this quiet, intimate song with throngs of noisy people on the move to Jerusalem? Surely, in the crowd there is many a mother needing to pause by the roadside to nurse her baby. At that moment, no need to think about catching up with the rest. Time stops as she gazes down upon her child—mouth slightly open, lips still dripping with milk as the baby dozes off to sleep in total satisfaction.
    We typically need three meals a day to keep up our strength. Yet more than the food we eat is the nourishment we need from the Lord. Pause regularly in the journey of the day and the week to your Jerusalem. Be fed by the Lord. Rest. All that you need for total satisfaction is given to you right now.



John 12:1–10

Unbelief Is Blind

Do you find situations in your life where you just cannot win? Thus, it was for Jesus as he finds himself caught more and more in the web of the plot against his life. Here is Lazarus whom Jesus had raised to life. Nothing but love consumes the heart of Mary, fed by her joy in who Jesus is. Yet there is no room for joy in Judas; greed pushes it away. Evil poisons his heart.
    Do not miss the irony in verse 10. The chief priests think that they can put to death the One who has power over death. Hatred and unbelief are blind. As for those who are opposed to you: If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

I suggest that you download Questions for Bible Study These five questions are used as a guide for Bible study at the Lakehurst Church, and now, beyond its walls!  Another idea…keep a sheet of paper and pencil ready for you to jot down the words of verses that touch your heart and how come they do so. I recommend that you keep a journal to save your reflections.