The Bible passage selected for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of March 23-29, 2014 is the Book of 1 Samuel 15. The Book of 1 Samuel may be viewed as ancient, written between 630 and 540 BCE, to some; however, it reveals the struggle all people – even those chosen by God – have with sin. More importantly it looks at repentance. Repentance is a word avoided in today’s society because it acknowledges that Jesus truly lords your life. As you meditate, pray over, and reflect upon this Old Testament passage during the week – ask yourself this simply, yet difficult, question: Who Lords your life?
And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley. Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.
The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of April 6 - April 12, 2014, is Jeremiah 7:9-11. During this time in Judah, a godly king, Josiah was ruling. Josiah was restoring the Temple of the Lord and, in the process, discovered the Laws of Moses, including the Ten Commandments given by the Lord God. Josiah repentance and return to the Lord was heartfelt. He wanted to live a life pleasing to the Lord. As it is today, when a celebrity follows a new path, the masses follow along. Unfortunately, the masses were not sincere. They were simply pretending. As you meditate, pray, and reflect on this week's passage, consider if you are simply one of the masses or the celebrity leading the charge.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’ “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 7:1-11, ESV)
The masses came to the Temple of the Lord because it was the popular, yet their everyday actions did not change. They continued to make offerings to false gods, participate in religious activities related to worshipping these false gods, and commit acts that went against the Laws of the Lord. Yet they came to the Lord's Temple and sought forgiveness from the Lord. If they were truly repentant, their actions would change. The Israelites falsely believed that because they were in possession of the Lord's Temple, they could not be conquered. The Lord's Temple did not provide salvation or protection! To worship it as such was to treat it as a false god. The Lord provides salvation and protection! He is the One we are to worship!
How similar are we to the Israelites to which Jeremiah prophesized? Do you, or people you know, believe that they are saved because they go to church every week? Or that because they are saved they can live their life however they want? Not all false gods are statues of Baal. Today, many place money over worshipping the Lord. Some place sleep over worshipping the Lord. Others still place watching television, playing video games, surfing the internet, curling up with a book, etc. before worshipping the Lord. None of the aforementioned activities are bad individually, but when we place above the worship of our Lord and Savior, they become false gods. As you meditate, pray, and reflect on this week's passage, consider: Are you one of masses, following along with no real commitment? Or are like Josiah, willing to change everything to please the Lord?
The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of April 13 - 19, 2014, is Jeremiah 18:5-10.Judah is now ruled by an ungodly king, who does not listen to Jeremiah.The masses also refuse to follow the Lord, placing their faith in man.Destruction is coming.Before it does, God has a message, a lesson to teach Jeremiah, a lesson as applicable today as it was then.As you meditate, pray, and reflect on this week's passage, consider the Lord's power.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. (Jeremiah 18:5-10, ESV)
God is often referred to as the Potter.It is an apt description for God formed us from the dust of the ground.Clay also comes from the earth.He took something unsightly and patiently, lovingly, worked it, molded it, shaped it something magnificent.But even then, He is not finished.He continues to work, if we let Him.Unlike clay, we have the ability to refuse His changes in our lives.If we refuse Him in our lives, God also has the ability to destroy us, as happened to Israel.The choice is ours: allow God into our lives, our hearts and allow Him to work in them, or reject Him, like Israel, and face destruction.As you meditate, pray, and reflect over this week's passage, consider the changes God is working or trying to work in your life.Are you welcoming or rejecting?
The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of April 20 - April 26, 2014, is Mark 14:32-42.Jesus and His disciples have celebrated their final meal together, which included the first communion.Together, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane near Mount Olive.It was one of Jesus' favorite places, as He went there frequently.Today's passage describes Jesus' final hours before His arrest.
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”(Mark 14:32-42, ESV)
It was very late, possibly even the early hours of the next morning, when the group headed out to pray.The disciples were tired and unable to remain awake and pray.They did not fully comprehend what was coming.They did not realize how badly they needed to pray for strength and courage.In this passage, Jesus is portrayed as very human.He was fearful, sorrowful, grievous, and troubled, so much so that He sweat blood according to Luke.He could have used the prayers of His friends, instead they slept.
The disciples did not know the events that were rapidly going to enter and change their lives - neither do we!We never know when a test or a trial is going to come into our lives.We never know when our life is going to change.Jesus was not only encouraging us His disciples to stay awake and pray, He is encouraging us!When you decide to run a full marathon, you do not show up the day of the race without having run the previous weeks. You spend weeks training, strengthening and preparing your body.We must treat our spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ the same way.We must train to rely on Him and turn to Him in all circumstances.We must strengthen our relationship to learn when and how He is talking to us.We must be prepared to trust in Him when we face our trial. As you meditate, pray, and reflect on this week's verse, consider how do you show up on race day?
The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of April 27 - May 3, 2014, is Exodus 19:1-8.Moses has successfully led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.Exactly three months later, God summons them to Mount Sinai, where Moses is given the Law to pass on to the people of Israel.
On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. (Exodus 9:1-8, ESV)
This is the beginning of the Mosaic Covenant, which is a continuation and fulfillment of God's covenant with Abraham.God promised Abraham that He would make a nation out of Abraham's descendents.The Israelites who were led out of Egypt, had become their own nation, yet they were not like other nations.They were to worship the Lord God and obey the laws He was to set out before them.The Laws, which touched upon nearly every aspect of daily life, may appear at the surface to be a list of "dos and don'ts." However, the law is meant to be a reminder that the Israelites are set apart from other nations, chosen by the Lord.
As Christians, we too are set apart from the world.In worshipping the Lord, we should strive and want to act in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.Just as the Israelites' behavior was important to the Lord, so is ours.The Law was not given as a means of salvation, but so that the Israelites may know what is pleasing to the Lord.We have the Word of God, which includes the teaching of Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant.As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week's passage, consider your attitude towards your behavior.Do you take forgiveness of your sins for granted?How do you live your life?
The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of June 8-14, 2014, is Luke 12:41-48.Jesus is speaking in parables, encouraging those who follow Him to always be prepared.In the following parable, the household is God's household.We, Christians, are the servants.
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (Luke 12:41-48, ESV)
Servants who know more and have greater knowledge are given greater responsibilities.The same is true of us.As Christians, the more knowledge we have of God's Word, the greater our responsibilities.Is that not the same in life as well?The more you know, the more that is expected of you.Why should knowledge of God's Word be any different?Of course, that does not mean we should willful stay ignorant!We should strive to continue to learn and increase our knowledge so that we may better serve our Lord and Savior.As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week's reading, ask yourself if you are living up to your knowledge?What steps can you take to increase your knowledge?