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

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

 

 

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.