When Love is Absent

Job 6—8

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

AnimFireStarter

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

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.

 

Highway of Holiness

Mondays: The Prophets
Isaiah 35

Click or touch “Firestarter”
Nick reads the one-minute introduction.

This chapter concludes the first part of Isaiah, making a joyous ending to the judgments against those nations who refuse to follow the Lord’s way. Many verses will draw you into the feeling of Advent. The ending of God’s year of grace has strong similarity with its beginning; the theme “What Is Coming?” pervades them both.

Read these verses with faith knowing that God will protect you and give you prosperity, as long as he finds you responding to grace by being on the Highway of Holiness.

If you were to imagine the movement of your life as a journey down a road, how would you describe the road? What do you sense spiritually about what is coming? Are you cruising along the road or have you broken down on its shoulder, needing help?

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Being strong and not in fear v. 4
The lame leaping like a deer v. 6
Springs gushing in the desert v. 6
The Highway of Holiness v. 8

Click or touch the image for the version for children and families.

This is the eighth of thirteen weeks in Kingdomtide, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Mondays are dedicated to the Prophets; in this season, we continue reading Isaiah.

Image courtesy of http://www.hosanna-tod.com

Seven Appointments with Jesus

Fridays: The Gospels
Matthew 9

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


The wider context for last Sunday’s Gospel is before you. Jesus has returned to his home base, Capernaum. Beginning with the freeing of a paralytic, there are seven brief accounts, each no longer than eight verses. Four of these are healing stories, with remaining units reporting the call of Matthew, a comment by Jesus about fasting and the new wine, and a concluding statement about the profound compassion of Jesus.

You might divide the day and evening into seven parts, each one beginning with a meditation from this chapter. Among your appointments for the day, make seven brief ones with the Word of God. Surely even the busiest of days offers moments to read eight verses; it would only take a minute. If the Lord were to come up to you and ask, “May I have a minute of your time?” Would you deny him?

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
I take heart: sins forgiven. v. 2
Glory to God for such p’wer v. 8
New wine into fresh wineskins v. 17
“Take heart: your faith made you well.” v. 22

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the Second Week in Pentecost, Year A.(The first week occurred at the end of the season of Epiphany.)
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
We continue reading the Gospel of Matthew.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

Today’s image courtesy of http://www.outreach2day.org

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

Admonition

Thursdays: The New Testament
Romans 2:1—3:20

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


“Saint Peter Repentant” 1823-25, Goya

As though admonishing his readers down through the ages to resist the temptation to point fingers after reading chapter 1, Paul begins chapter 2 with a sharp rebuke about judgment. You will need to read slowly to catch the argumentation of his thought about the law and its relation to Jew and Gentile. However, the basic thought is clear: we are to mind our own business and examine our own selves. God gives a conscience to each person, whether Jew or Gentile, as the means to come to a basic understanding and reception of God and God’s ways.

Paul wants to loosen the Jewish Christians from any arrogance in their unique call through the ages. The heart needs to be circumcised—to respect and respond to God’s presence that is offered to every person.

Where in your life do you feel admonished in this reading?

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Lord, may I not pass judgment.2:1
Your kindness toward repentance. 2:4
Patiently doing the good 2:7
Show me, Lord, the path of peace 3:18

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the Second Week in Pentecost, Year A.(The first week occurred at the end of the season of Epiphany.)
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

Today’s image –

Thursdays: The New Testament
Romans 2:1—3:20

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


“Saint Peter Repentant” 1823-25, Goya

As though admonishing his readers down through the ages to resist the temptation to point fingers after reading chapter 1, Paul begins chapter 2 with a sharp rebuke about judgment. You will need to read slowly to catch the argumentation of his thought about the law and its relation to Jew and Gentile. However, the basic thought is clear: we are to mind our own business and examine our own selves. God gives a conscience to each person, whether Jew or Gentile, as the means to come to a basic understanding and reception of God and God’s ways.

Paul wants to loosen the Jewish Christians from any arrogance in their unique call through the ages. The heart needs to be circumcised—to respect and respond to God’s presence that is offered to every person.

Where in your life do you feel admonished in this reading?

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Lord, may I not pass judgment.2:1
Your kindness toward repentance. 2:4
Patiently doing the good 2:7
Show me, Lord, the path of peace 3:18

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the Second Week in Pentecost, Year A.(The first week occurred at the end of the season of Epiphany.)
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

Today’s image – “Saint Peter Repentant” 1823-25, Goya

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.


The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

A Beloved Psalm

Wednesdays: The Psalms
Psalm 23

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

This favorite psalm of countless persons over the ages is yours today. Millions know it from memory. If you need to refresh your memory, the task will be as sweet as the psalm itself if you link the images together. Be as the sheep in the first four verses. Sense the sequence of resting and movement. The word for comfort in verse 4 is nacham, making a sound, just as it does—the deep sighs of those receiving comfort, as well as those giving it.

Verse 5 shifts to the image of an army arrayed for battle. Victory is so assured by the Lord that the troops sit down to a banquet as the enemy looks on. The anointing for spiritual warfare takes place. The sixth and last verse combines the image of movement with rest again. Notice how right living causes goodness and mercy to pursue David.

Move through this prayer and you will be dwelling in the house of the Lord today, looking forward to forever.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
You lead beside still waters v. 2
In dark valleys You are there v. 4
You anoint my head with oil. v. 5
Dwelling with You forever v. 6

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the Second Week in Pentecost, Year A.(The first week occurred at the end of the season of Epiphany.)
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Wednesdays are dedicated to the Psalms,
one each week over the three-year cycle.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

Today’s image courtesy of http://www.faithgateway.com

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

My Will or God’s?

Mondays: The Prophets
Isaiah 14

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

The three examples of salvation in yesterday’s reading are contrasted with three doomed to destruction. Babylon, Assyria, and Philistia are singled out for their unique arrogance toward God that results in their downfall.

The outcome of these three countries is the result of what Mary sings in the Magnificat: “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly”(Luke 1:52). With the image of the beach ball pressed down for later release, the pride that seeks to puff itself up before others, actually results in their being pressed down to death.

In this context, the fall of Lucifer is described. Tradition has linked him to Satan. Ponder the five arrogant assertions in verses 13 and 14 that begin with the words “I will.” The one whose name means “light-bearer” is plummeted into darkness.

Which is it for you—your will or God’s?

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Rest from all pain and turmoil v. 3
What You design, You will do. v. 24
You lift my burden from me. v. 25
Needy find refuge in You v. 32

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the Second Week in Pentecost, Year A.(The first week occurred at the end of the season of Epiphany.)
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Mondays are dedicated to the Prophets; in this season, we continue reading Isaiah.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

Today’s image courtesy of http://pastorkylehuber.com

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.