Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31- Suffering Through A Siege

October 31, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Lamentation 4:1-5:22; Hebrews 2:1-18;
Psalm 103:1-22; Proverbs 26:23

Where is there beauty when you see deprivation and starvation? 
~Rosalind Russell

Lamentations 4:1-5:22

Starvation is a terrible way to die. This extreme form of malnutrition in humans will cause the organs to experience permanent damage.  Anyone experiencing starvation will lose muscle mass.  Vitamin deficiency can lead to anemia, beriberi, and scurvy.  In late stages, the weakness and lethargy of the body can lead a person to be too weak to sense thirst.  This can lead to dehydration.  As Jeremiah laments the conditions in Jerusalem, we get a description of what King Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem has caused.  This prosperous and golden city has lost its luster. The children are starving in the streets. Their parched tongues are sticking to the roof of their mouths.  There is nothing to eat.

Being unable to bring food in and out of the city has devastated a once prosperous people.  Can you imagine your brimming grocery store shelves being empty and desolate? Can you imagine an enemy preventing your whole city from getting any food?  This is the predicament in which God has placed Jerusalem. Jeremiah describes people's skin as being blackened from starvation and malnutrition.

Jeremiah is looking at a city whose inhabitants have survived a siege, the burning of their city, and the captivity of their noblemen. No ally was able to save the city. The king in charge was of no help.  He, too, was carted away. Jeremiah comforts himself with God's promise that the Jews will return to the land from exile.

The final chapter of Lamentations is a prayer to God to remember the people. Remember that their dancing has turned to mourning. Thier own sins have brought this disaster. Dim with tears, their hearts are sick and weary.  With humility, Jeremiah admits that they have caused their own suffering.

Once again, Jeremiah comforts himself with the truth that God remains the same forever. He is the King of the Universe and His throne does not get overthrown by an enemy. Jeremiah cries out for God to restore the people. His prayer is for the God who controls the universe to restore their joy. 

Do you ask God to change your circumstances?  He is able. The question that Jeremiah asks of God and we must ask is "Are You willing?" This takes humility.

Hebrews 2:1-18

Are you ready for a bucket load of logic and a wagon full of truth?  Here we go...

Speaking to the Jewish nation, who is well aware of their history of punishment by God and warnings from angels, the author entreats the Hebrews to listen carefully to the message of salvation announced by the Lord Himself. His message was verified by signs, miracles and the gift of the Holy Spirit, which now indwells believers. The question is raised, "Who can escape if we neglect such a great salvation?"  The answer is...no one will escape judgment for neglecting Jesus' offer of salvation.

The author reminds the readers that the future world will not be run or controlled by angels, but by the Son of God, who lowered himself to become a man.  They and we are reminded that mankind is a little lower than the angels in his humanity, but after his death is crowned with glory and honor.  After completing his work on earth, God will give the Son authority over all of the earth.

It is explained that presently Jesus has fulfilled the parts of Scripture that describe Him as a little lower than the angels and having been given a place of honor and glory.  Jesus is not yet ruling with complete authority on this earth.  For now, Satan is the prince of the air and the ruler of the earth. Christ's earthly reign will be in the future. In that day we will have no need of hospitals and jails.  Jesus will rule with perfection.  For now, Satan is allowed to run the capitals of this world without God.  Satan is a fallen angel attempting to rule this world. We can all see how this is working out. An angel is not designed to rule this world.  We learn in Genesis 1:28 that man is designed to have authority over the earth.  Adam was given authority, which was lost when he sinned in the Garden.  Jesus is the man that regains the authority over the earth that Adam squandered. Scripture reveals that God's plan is for a man of His choosing to rule the world in righteousness.  This man must have the qualifications to run this planet.

The book of Hebrews teaches that Jesus is fit to be that perfect leader because of his suffering. He was fit to bring salvation through His actions. Jesus is a Son of man, who is able to legitimately call us brothers and sisters.  He shares human DNA with us.  He is holy and yet not ashamed to call other humans his brothers and sisters. He had to be a human being in order to die.  He had to die to solve the problem of sin. Only his death could break the power of the devil, who had the power of death that he holds over mankind.  Jesus came to deliver people from the fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15 says,

"Because God's children are human beings-made of flesh and blood-the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying."

Jesus came to help all Hebrews who are descendants of Abraham.  He did not come to help angels. This is why God came down to earth Himself as a human being. As a human, Jesus is able to be a merciful High Priest, who acts an an intermediary between God and man. What sacrifice did Jesus offer as a Priest to take away sin?  His own body was the sacrifice.  He is also to able to help us with the temptation to sin, because in his own body Jesus was tempted and suffered from temptation.  Do you ever feel that you are literally suffering in your temptation?  Jesus can relate to that and rescue you.

What an amazing piece of Scripture.  Doesn't the truth of this just overwhelm you?  What an amazing story.  What a beautiful solution.  Thank you, God.

Psalm 103:1-22

Oh, recite this psalm to yourself out loud.  The truth of it will wash over you like a Spring rain.

Proverbs 26:23

Be wary of smooth words.  They can cover a wicked heart.

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October 30- The Dark Night Of The Soul

October 30, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Lamentations 3:1-66; Hebrews 1:1-14;
Psalm 102:1-28; Proverbs 26:21-22



Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great 
that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.
— Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979 


Lamentations 3:1-66

Depression is defined as severe despondency and dejection, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.  In a TIME magazine article in 2007, it was revealed that personal letters of Mother Teresa compiled over her 66 years of serving the poor in India show that Mother Teresa was depressed and hopeless for most of her ministry.  Contrary to her public persona, Mother Teresa was overwhelmed with doubt and felt no presence of God whatsoever. It appears that her feelings never abated.  While this is tragic, it is not rare for servants of God and prophets to feel depressed.  The difference is in whether or not genuine faith in God's truths are able to pull the person out of depression.  Jeremiah was depressed, but unlike Mother Teresa, Jeremiah had the tools to cope.  Although Jeremiah is overwhelmed with the suffering of his people and his own personal trials, Jeremiah is able to use the patterns found in the Scriptures of relying on the eternal attributes of God and the truth of God's Word to pull himself out of his dark night.

At this point in his writing Jeremiah compares the suffering of Jerusalem to his own personal suffering experienced as God's spokesman.  All prophets of God suffer.  Jeremiah cries out that God has brought him into deep darkness. The feeling is that God has turned against him. A heavy hand of oppression is aging him physically. He is walled in by his circumstances and feels as if he is weighed down by heavy chains. When he cries out, there seems to be a high wall blocking his prayers to God. From his perspective, God is shutting out his prayers. The road is winding and filled with detours. It is as if an arrow has been shot into Jeremiah's heart.  He endures mocking and derision.  He is suffering and homeless. And yet, although he will never forget this awful time in his life, Jeremiah dares to hope!

Jeremiah declares that the unfailing love of the Lord never ends (vs. 22)!  Here we see a key to coping with anxiety, fear, and depression through faith in God, even when you are overwhelmed with sorrow and trials.  Godly people turn their focus from inward, focusing on themselves and their troubles, to God and His faithfulness.   Do you remember to do this in your trials?  God does not mind your tears, but He is looking for your praise, even in the trials.  Turning to God is the key.  Jeremiah does this even though he feels that God is not hearing his prayers.  Learn from this!

"The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him."  This is Jeremiah's theme and his antidote for the dark night of the soul. Jeremiah reminds himself that God does not abandon people forever and He does not enjoy hurting them or causing them sorrow.  Jeremiah states that nothing can happen without the permission of God.  This is a statement about God's sovereignty.  Accepting God's sovereignty is key to learning how to be content in any and all situations.  Do you focus on God's control over in your life?

Notice that tears stream from Jeremiah's eyes when he looks at the destruction of Jerusalem.  Sorrow and hope are intermingled. Now, after feeling his emotions, rather than running from them Jeremiah feels that God is hearing his prayers. Jeremiah asks God to be his lawyer and plead his case!  This is what Jesus Christ does for us.  He is our advocate before the Father.  Jeremiah is showing faith in the coming Messiah. Jeremiah calls for God's justice to prevail.

Here are the stages that Jeremiah goes through as he copes with his dark night of the soul: 
  1. Admit you are depressed.
  2. Complain to God about your circumstances with honesty.
  3. Remind yourself of God's everlasting qualities and character.
  4. List out His attributes.
  5. Purpose to wait quietly on the Lord.
  6. Submit to God's yoke of discipline on your life. Accept your circumstances.
  7. Remember that God does not abandon His loved ones.
  8. Remember that God is in control.
  9. Feel your emotions.  Don't stuff them.
  10. Call upon God to rescue you from your circumstances and bring justice in this world.
  11. Expect God's answer.
Please notice that God does not abandon a person to these dark nights.  If you are a true believer in God, you will learn to rely on Him in sorrow and depression. This cycle is a cleansing cycle that restores and heals the soul. Do you do this when you are facing trials?  Try to practice this in your life when you are upset or depressed. Please note that clinically depressed, even suicidal people, can love God and not be able to use these techniques to overcome their chemical imbalance. This is for believers who do not have a chemical brain imbalance. Mother Teresa may have had a chemical imbalance that caused her severe depression and yet God used her mightily to love and help those around her who were in need.

Hebrews 1:1-14

Today, we start the tremendous book of Hebrews.  This book is written by a Hebrew Christian to the Hebrew people.  Many scholars believe that it is written by the Apostle Paul to the Jews.  We will deal with how this may be the case as we study the book. The point of this book is to show that Christ is superior and He is not only the High Priest of Israel, but the Son of God and the Son of man mentioned throughout the Old Testament.

To understand Christ's purpose in God's plan is to understand the keys to the eternity itself. Christ is the central character of the Bible.  Through Him all things are held together. At the time when Hebrews is written, which was more than likely before 70 A.D., the Jewish people had a 3600 year history of revelation from God.  After 400 years of silence, God sent His Son to provide the final words to God's story.  The book of Hebrews emphasizes the superiority of Christ's message.  For this reason, Hebrews gives us the breath of Heaven.

As the author begins this epistle, he emphasizes that long ago God spoke in a variety of ways to both the Jewish patriarchs and the prophets.  We may remember that God used dreams, pre-incarnate Christ visits, visions, laws, physical objects, etc. to reveal Himself to mankind in the Old Testament. The author tells us that in these final days, God has spoken through His Son.

Next, we learn that everything made in creation was made through God's Son. Here are some facts about the Son:
  • The Son reflects God's own glory. Vs. 3
  • The Son is the EXACT representation of God. Vs. 3
  • The Son sustains the universe with his power. Vs. 3
  • The Son died to cleanse us from sin and is now sitting at God's right hand, the place of honor. Vs. 3
It can be concluded that the Son is far greater than the angels.  Let's review how He is greater than the angels by looking at what God has revealed about His Son in the Old Testament writings:
  • He is greater because of the fact that God calls him Son in Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14,
  • The Son's throne will endure forever, his royal power is expressed in righteousness, he loves justice and because of this he has been anointed in  Psalm 45:6-7. Anointings are for priests and kings.
  • The Son (Lord) is the one who laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the works of his hands. The earth and heavens will wear out and end, but God's Son is eternal.  He will never stop existing. Psalm 102:25-27
  • God promises to allow the Son to sit at his right hand and will humble his enemies and make His enemies His footstool. Psalm 110:1, Psalm 2
Meanwhile, angels are described this way in the Hebrew Scriptures:
  • Angels are messengers that are swift as the wind and servants made of flaming fire. Psalm 104:4
  • Angels are merely servants sent by God to care for those who receive salvation. 
Did you realize that true angels of God are only sent to true believers?  Any other spirit that comes to someone who is not a Christian is a fallen angel, also known as a demon. 

But let's get back to the point.  The point is that God is not silent about the concept of sending His Son to the earth.  God is not silent about the Son's role in history on this earth.  Angels are created beings who serve God.  God's Son is the Creator of the universe.  There is a big difference.  A person should never be tempted to worship angels.  We are not to pray to angels.  We are not to think that we become angels.

The book of Hebrews teaches us this.  What do you think of angels?

Psalm 102:1-28

Jeremiah could easily recite this psalm in the midst of the dark night of his soul. Notice the pattern for dealing with depression that the psalmist employs.

Proverbs 26:21-22

Quarrelsome people start fights.  Remember how the Apostle Paul wrote so many letters encouraging believers to not be quarrelsome?

What are you learning?  Do you feel the benefits of studying God's Word?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton


Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 29- The Silent Streets

October 29, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Lamentations 1:1-2:22; Philemon 1-25;
Psalm 101:1-8; Proverbs 26:20

There are times when silence has the loudest voice. 
~Leroy Brownlow

Lamentations 1:1-2:22

"Jerusalem's streets, once bustling with people, are now silent."  After 9/11, when the twin towers had fallen and the plumes of dust and smoke had cleared, the streets of New York City near the site of the tragedy were eerily silent. Devastation and destruction have a solemn and lonely feel to them.  Today, Jeremiah gives us a poetic song of sorrow to contemplate what has happened to Jerusalem.  In this book we see the heart of God as He mourns over His jewel.  Why does God love Jerusalem?  We don't know.  The Bible indicates that God chooses what He chooses and His ways are higher than our ways.  The name Jerusalem means "place of peace" or "abode of God" and one day, God will create a New Jerusalem (city of peace), where those who are deemed worthy to inherit eternal life will live in peace. But for now Jerusalem is pictured as a widow broken with grief as she sits alone in mourning.  The queen of the nations is now a slave to Babylon.  It is a dramatic picture.

We learn that this has happened because the Lord is punishing Jerusalem for her many sins.  Verse 14 describes it this way, "He wove my sins into ropes to hitch me to a yoke of captivity."  Wow.  This is powerful imagery.  Do you have sins that God has woven together in your life and allowed to hitch you into trials?  Do you realize that your own actions can eventually take you captive?  Certainly anyone who has ever struggled with an addiction can attest to the fact that our sins can end up enslaving us.  This is what has happened to the people of Judah and Jerusalem.  They have no one but themselves to blame for the tragedy that has befallen them. God is loving.  He disciplines those that He loves.  We learn here that part of that discipline can be allowing tragedy to result from sinful lifestyles.

Verse 20 begins a part of the song that admits fault on the part of the people of Jerusalem.  With sorrow, Jeremiah asks for the day when Israel's enemies will be punished.

We learn that if the truth were known, it is the Lord, not really Babylon, who has vanquished Israel.  God must get credit for what has happened.  Remember, the Bible gives us God's perspective on what He highlights in His story about earth.  Jeremiah is giving us God's perspective that He is the one who punished Jerusalem and burned down the Temple. He is the one who made careful plans for her destruction (chap 2 vs. 8).

Jeremiah is not a man who runs from his feelings or emotions.  He embraces his emotions.  Some people might say that he is in touch with his feminine side.  Well, you tell me what poet isn't in touch with his feminine side?  Jeremiah weeps and mourns.  He accepts his emotional devastation over the destruction of the city he loves.  His is the heart of God.  Jeremiah looks back at the destruction of Jerusalem and weeps.  This is a shadow of Jesus Christ, who entered Jerusalem and wept at her future destruction by Rome.  Christ might also have been weeping at a future time at the end of time when Jerusalem will once again be under attack.  At that point, Christ, alone, will save his precious jewel.

God wants the people of Jerusalem to use this time of sorrow to reflect on why this tragedy has occurred.  He is using this trial to cause the people to mourn over their sins.  His hope is to see repentance and a turning to God in this devastation. 

Do you turn to God when you are going through a trial?  Do you realize that sometimes God brings trials into our lives to get us to turn to Him and turn away from our sins?   Learn from this story in the Bible.

Philemon 1-25

This letter is a personal letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to a wealthy Christian convert in the city of Colossae in modern day Turkey.  This city no longer exists.  Philemon probably was converted in Ephesus, where Paul taught for two years in the school of Tyrannus. Philemon was a wealthy businessman.

In the times of the Roman Empire slavery was an accepted institution.  There were probably sixty million slaves in the Roman Empire.  Slaves were treated worse than one's enemy.  Philemon owned a slave named Onesimus, who ran away from his master in Colossae to Rome.  As God would have it, Onesimus meets Paul, is converted to the gospel of Christ, and begins to understand the real meaning of slavery and freedom.

Paul opens his letter by describing himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ.  This is no mistake.  Paul is bound to his master Jesus.  Although Rome has imprisoned him, Paul understands that God is the one who controls our destinies.  It is God who has imprisoned Paul for a good purpose.

Philemon has a church that meets in his home.  Apparently, his wife is also a Christian and helps to host the church in Colossae. May I point out again that women are mentioned as key players in the early church. Paul addresses the letter to the people who are part of their house church also. The purpose of Paul's letter is to ask Philemon to be reconciled to his slave, Onesimus, and accept him back into his home.  I would imagine that this runaway slave has begun to realize that freedom is not an easy proposition.  In Philemon's home Onesimus would have been clothed, fed, and sheltered.  Freedom can be a slavery of sorts and slavery can be a freedom of sorts.  Many people are slaves to their freedom.  Some people are slaves to money or addictions.  Paul is hoping that Philemon will accept Onesimus as a brother in Christ.

The Holy Spirit transforms lives.  Old rivalries and enemies can be reconciled through the power of God. Paul asks that Philemon treat Onesimus as if Paul himself were coming to visit.  Paul promises to repay anything that Onesimus may have stolen. Isn't this offer just like Christ?  Doesn't Christ repay what we have stolen?  Isn't He the one who covers our debts?

I love that Paul puts a little Jewish guilt in the end of the letter by reminding Philemon that he owes Paul his very soul.  Awesome!

You and I owe Jesus our very souls.  We, too, should reconcile with Christians with whom we have had conflict.  This is an object lesson for you and me.

Psalm 101:1-8

"I will be careful to live a blameless life."  Vs. 2  This is what Paul has been encouraging the Church to do!  Can you hear Paul reading this psalm to Philemon?

Proverbs 26:20

Quarrels disappear when gossip stops.  How true this is.  God, keep us from gossiping.

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Friday, October 28, 2011

October 28- An Empire Fallen

October 28, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 51:1-52:34; Titus 3:1-15;
Psalm 100:1-5; Proverbs 26:18-19

Jeremiah 51:1-52:34

Imagine, if you will, that a prophet comes and writes a book that says that the United States of America will be devastated, defeated, and will fall.  As part of the prophecy, the man says that the country will be so destroyed that it will become a deserted wasteland.  Perhaps some of you remember the movie The Planet of the Apes.  In this movie, astronauts land on a planet in the distant future where apes are the dominant species and humans are mute animals wearing animal skins. The shocker at the end of the movie is the realization that the planet overtaken by the apes is the earth.  How do we discover this?  The charred remnants of the Statue of Liberty are seen half submerged on the beach at the end of the movie.  The implication is that this new society is a result of a global nuclear war.  Today, Jeremiah writes the future of the great Babylonian empire and it includes the fact that God is going to make Babylon a deserted wasteland, devastated by a war.

Jeremiah gives his prophecy about Babylon's destruction to King Zedekiah during the fourth year of his reign.  We know that King Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon and eventually after a long siege of Jerusalem, the Babylonians broke through the walls of the city and captured the king and the royals.  Zedekiah was forced to watch as his sons and royal officials were killed.  Zedekiah had his eyes gouged out and was bound in bronze chains to be led away to Babylon. Just as predicted, the city and the Temple were burned down and all of the wealth that had been accumulated by David and Solomon were carted away to Babylon.  There is a description of the majestic nature of the bronze pillars in the Temple and the large bronze sea that sat in one section of the Temple. We see that a prediction that Isaiah gave came true as these precious objects are taken by the conquerors. Remember that King Hezekiah had shown the ambassadors from Babylon many years before the great wealth in his treasury.  God told Hezekiah that this would result in future problems for Jerusalem.  Hezekiah was only concerned about his own life at the time. God's predictions were accurate.

The book of Jeremiah ends with a description of what happens to the royal line of David.  This is important to God because of his promises to the nation of Israel.  God has promised that a son of David will rule on the throne in Jerusalem forever. Although God does not intend to allow any descendant of King Jehoiachin to reign in Israel, God in His wisdom has Mary, Jesus' mother, come from the line of Nathan, rather than from the line of Solomon.  Jehoiachin is from Solomon.  God is able to fulfill both prophecies in the end.  Jeremiah records how this is fulfilled during the Babylonian captivity.

God is intimately involved in His Story on earth.  Does this surprise you?  Do you believe that God is intimately involved in your story too?  He is a detailed-oriented Being.  The details of your life and mine matter to God.

Titus 3:1-15

As Paul continues his instructions to Titus, he gives Titus topics on which to teach.  Today, he reminds Titus to emphasize to the body of believers that they should obey the government. They should be ready to do good for others and avoid quarreling. If you are gentle and humble, your life will not be marked by arguing with others.  How are you doing in this department?

If you hate others and they hate you, you are living a life of disobedience and foolishness. God shows us His kindness and love.  This is out of His character of mercy. He also pours out his Spirit upon those He has forgiven and promises the gift of eternal life. This is the message that should motivate people to do good works and live lives that please God. What motivates you to do good works for others?

The final reminder from Paul is that people should not fight about spiritual pedigree or Jewish laws.  This would have been a problem among Jewish believers at that time.

What would the Apostle Paul tell your local pastor to speak to you about in your church?  What areas need to be exhorted and taught to you?

Psalm 100:1-5

We are His sheep and we enter His gate (Jesus Christ) with thanksgiving.  Read this psalm in light of what the Apostle Paul was saying to Titus today.

Proverbs 26:18-19

Wow.  Don't lie to your friend and then act like you were only joking.  Not a good plan...

What did you read that was of interest today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 27- The Golden Cup

October 27, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 51:1-53; Titus 2:1-15;
Psalm 99:1-9; Proverbs 26:17

Jeremiah 51:1-53

Do you have a favorite coffee mug?  Over the years I have had a series of favorite cups.  Whenever it was time to have coffee or tea, I would grab the mug my friend gave me on my birthday or the tea cup I received one year at a tea party.   Somehow drinking out of my favorite cup made the whole experience better.  In our reading today world empires are likened to favorite cups and God changes his mind about which empire is his favorite cup.  For a period of time He made the Babylonian Empire His golden cup of favor.  He used this nation/city to conquer the whole world.  As a matter of fact, the whole known world at that time had to drink from this golden cup and get drunk on her system.  Those days are about to end.  God is warning that He intends to smash that golden cup for reasons that tie back to the nation of Israel.

If you read secular history you will learn various facts as to how and why the Medes and Persians defeated the Babylonians.  The Bible gives us God's interpretation of the events of history.  From His perspective, God used Babylon to punish Israel for her rebellion against God and to punish her surrounding neighbors for idol worship and their treatment of Israel, but now, God is going to turn around and punish Babylon for her treatment of Israel.  Babylon is also punished for worshipping false gods.

We see that God mentions the lifestyle of the Babylonians, which includes much drunkenness and feasting. God specifically mentions that He is going to punish their god, Bel.  Does this surprise you?  These people were worshipping demons who are under God's control and will be judged and punished in the future. Do you think the Babylonians realized that their gods were demons?  Probably not.  God holds people accountable for their choices.

Do you rest in God's sovereignty?  Do you realize that God has a spiritual purpose for secular history?  Do you realize that you will be held accountable for your choices? His story is not over yet.

Titus 2:1-15

The teaching that Titus gives to the people of Crete should result in changed lives and changed behavior.  Here is what Paul is hoping for:  He would like for the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely.  In our day and age it is a shame to see older men chasing after younger women and having affairs.  It was the same back then.

The older women are not to become gossips, spreading evil words against others.  They are also cautioned not to be heavy drinkers.  In our day and age, wine is a big deal to many women.  They rely on it for comfort and the coolness factor.  God wants women to be noticed for helping younger women learn to love their husbands and children. Women should also be revered for living pure lives. Alcohol can be a trap that ruins a person's effectiveness.  Women need to be warned of this and careful that they do not become lushes. In this way shame is not brought upon God's word through bad behavior.

The young men should be wise and follow Titus' example of good deeds.  Titus' teaching must be strong.  All Christians are encouraged to live with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God.

Paul reminds Titus that he has authority from God as the pastor over these people to teach these things.

Are you concerned with your life style?  Does it reflect well on God?  Do you drink too much wine?

Psalm 99:1-9

God is backing up His statements in Jeremiah with this psalm.  His message is consistent.

Proverbs 26:17

Wow.  I guess the message is to butt out.

What did you learn as you read today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October 26- Make It So!

October 26, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 49:23-50:46; Titus 1:1-16;
Psalm 97:1-98:9; Proverbs 26:13-16

Make it so!  
~Daddy Warbucks  from Annie

Jeremiah 49:23-50:46

Here are the kids in their costumes.
When the children were little, there was a group of families that would produce musicals on people's driveways in the summertime.  It was great fun to have the kids try out for the various productions and be part of the fun atmosphere of putting on an outdoor play. One year, the musical was Annie.  Fortunately, both kids got a part.  My son played Daddy Warbucks and my daughter played his secretary, Grace.  We have a film of the play and we all get a good laugh from the fact that the kids voices are so high that they sound like little mice saying their lines.  Inside of themselves they felt so mature, but the video does not lie.  They were just little munchkins up there acting their hearts out.  My son had a line from the play that he relished.  At one point he would thrust his pointer finger in the air and shout, "Make it so!"  Daddy Warbucks was an industrial tycoon.  Anything that man wanted done was done.  Today, God is like Daddy Warbucks.  Anything He wills to happen is going to occur.  If God wants to judge a nation, all He has to do is say, "Make it so!"


As Jeremiah prophesies, God gives him messages for Damascus, Kedar and Hazor.  These places are in God's cross hairs of judgment.  God will use Nebuchadnezzar to punish these nations for their rebellion against God and their relationship to His chosen people, the Israelites. Damascus claims to be the oldest city on earth that is still in existence.  They could be correct in their claim.  Although the city has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, it still is the capital of Syria.  This is not the case for the other places mentioned in this prophecy.


Next, Babylon is up for judgment.  We see that God had a good purpose for Babylon.  He allowed Babylon to rise and be the first great world empire.  Remember that the tower of Babel was in this area.  But, having served her purpose as an instrument of judgment upon Israel and her neighbors, God now predicts the demise of Babylon. 

Israel is described as a group of lost sheep who were led astray by their shepherds.  God intends to find His lost sheep and bring them home. They are to flee Babylon in the future and return home. God describes Babylon as becoming the least of the nations.  It will be a dry and desolate land. People who visit the ancient ruins of Babylon today can see that God fulfilled this promise.  One of the greatest empires the world has ever known is simply a desert wasteland.

We see mention of times in the far future, "no sin will be found in Israel or in Judah, for I will forgive the remnant I preserve."  Obviously, there is sin in Israel in our present day.  This part of the prophecy has not been fulfilled.  It behooves us to understand that just as Babylon was indeed defeated, the day when the remnant in Israel will have no sin is also going to occur.  How?  By the power of God.

God mentions that he will punish Babylon for their many sins which include worshipping the gods Bel and Marduk.  Here we go again with idol worship.  The ancient world was familiar with the God of Israel.  It was CNN Headline news when 1 million people left Egypt after the plagues.  No person had any excuse to be following pagan idols.  God makes His invisible qualities known through His creation.  Therefore, God is justified in judging the Babylonians.

The other picture that God wants to paint for us is His role as Israel's redeemer and rescuer.  Although He sent Israel into captivity to punish her for her rebellion against God, He must also fulfill His role as her redeemer.  Remember, God is our redeemer, also.  He rescues His children from the Babylon of this world system.  It is through His death that we are redeemed from our sins and the world system that fuels itself on pride. When God promised Adam and Eve that He would solve the problem of sin with a child who would save the world, the prophesies that we are reading about in Jeremiah are part of the process of bringing us to that solution.

Babylon will be defeated by the Medes and the Persians.  This is ancient history to you and me.  When Jeremiah wrote this this prediction seemed unlikely.  If God wants to, He can "Make it so!"

Do you rely on God's promises and prophesies?  Do you believe future events will happen that God has laid out for us in the Bible?  Have you studied God's Word enough to know what He says about the future?  Keep reading, my friends.  We will be talking about all of this!


Titus 1:1-16

Once again, Paul is writing a pastoral letter to a man named Titus.  We just finished reading his letters to Timothy.  Timothy was Jewish and was a pastor to the church in Ephesus.  He was younger and needed encouragement to stick to a strong message with a church that was surrounded by goddess worship. 

The Isle of Crete as it looks today.
Titus is a Gentile.  He is pastoring on the isle of Crete.  We see that Paul is not all that impressed with the character of the people on this island.  He spends most of his time in this letter to Titus emphasizing the need to set up a proper organization for the church.

Paul begins his letter by calling himself a bond servant of Christ and by establishing his authority and position as an apostle of Christ. You know that the position of apostle is limited and unique.  The church is founded on the testimony and teaching of the apostles.  Paul knows his purpose and is clear that he has been sent to bring faith to those whom God has chosen to be His and to teach them how to live godly lives that reflect God's truth.

Titus is called Paul's true child in the faith.  Both Timothy and Titus are Paul's spiritual children who do not fall from their faith.


Paul instructs Titus to appoint elders in the various towns of Crete. Again, just as we discussed in the letters to Timothy, elders must be a certain kind of man.  He should be married to one wife, have raised children who did not rebel, he should not be arrogant or quick tempered.  He cannot be a heavy drinker, violent or greedy about money.  He should be hospitable and live self-disciplined life.  He must be able to encourage others in their faith.

We learn that the people of Crete have a reputation of being liars who are like cruel animals and gluttons.  Not a good portrayal, in my estimation.  Paul does not refute this reputation, but encourages Titus to rebuke the people sternly when necessary. Again, Paul warns against false teachers who attempt to ruin peoples faith with rules like insistence upon circumcision.

Do you think the modern church sticks to these strict standards for picking elders? 

Psalm 97:1-98:9

Here is a psalm with a wondrous God who controls the lightning and has power over heaven and earth.  Sing Him a new song!

Proverbs 26:13-16


Have you seen people on this earth who are so lazy that they won't do any work to earn money to feed themselves?  We must be wary of promoting this sort of behavior.  The Bible does not condone this or condone supporting people who behave this way.

What did you learn?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 25- God Will Judge The Earth

October 25, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 48:1-49:22; 2 Timothy 4:1-22;
Psalm 95:1-96:13; Proverbs 26:9-12

Jeremiah 48:1-49:22

For years the Israelites dealt with certain enemies.  They were influenced by these people and came to worship their demon gods named Chemosh, Molech, and Baal.  Many Israelite children were sacrificed in the fire of these idols.  Now, God's day of judgment is coming upon these nations. Today, Jeremiah is given a word on Moab, Ammon, and Edom.

Moab:

First, God warns through Jeremiah that the people of Moab will be destroyed.  They are described as a bottle that will be smashed.  The people of the god of Chemosh will be no more. You may remember that the Moabites come from Lot and his daughter.  Do you remember that when Lot fled from Sodom and Gomorrah, his wife was turned into a pillar of salt after she looked back at the cities being destroyed?  Lot and his daughters escaped to a cave where Lot slept with both of his daughters. Moab was his son from his oldest daughter.

The Moabites are the people who hired Balaam to curse Israel.  David's grandmother, Ruth, was also a Moabite.  God is proclaiming that their time is up.  He has endured the false religion of the Moabites long enough. Their sons and daughters will be carted away to captivity.  Interestingly, God promises to restore the Moabites one day.

Ammon:

The Ammonites also descended from Lot.  Ammon was the son of Lot and his younger daughter. The Ammonites refused to let the Israelites pass through their land in the Exodus. They also worked with Eglon in the book of Judges against the Israelites. 

They worshipped a demon god called Molech.  Very similar to Chemosh, Molech also required child sacrifice.  The Israelites fell into worshipping Molech, too. God describes the Ammonites being pursued and overtaken in the future, but once again, He promises to restore their fortunes.

Edom:

The Edomites come from Esau, who was Jacob's twin brother.  You probably remember that Jacob deceived Esua out of both his birthright and his blessing.  The brothers eventually reconciled, but Esua's descendants were a thorn in the side of the Israelites, who were Jacob's descendants. Edom also did not allow the Israelites to pass through their territory on the way to the Promised Land. God promises destruction for Edom and punishment for their past sins against Israel.

2 Timothy 4:1-22:

Paul reminds Timothy that Jesus will one day judge the living and the dead.  With this in mind, Paul admonishes Timothy to preach the Word of God. Be persistent in this, even if the timing does not seem right. A teacher is to patiently rebuke, correct, and encourage people. Paul warns that in a future day, people will be very hard to teach.

He encourages Timothy to be prepared for suffering. Don't be afraid of it. Work at bringing people to Christ.

We see Paul's swan song.  His life has been poured out as a drink offering to God. What a beautiful picture of humility and surrender.  Paul knows he has fought the good fight. He has finished the race and has remained faithful. Paul is looking forward to a reward for a life lived by faith. Paul is showing up til the last minute of his life.  This is how one should look to Christ for hope.

Paul says that Luke is with him.  He asks Timothy to bring his coat, books, and his papers. Here is a true and honest relationship. We learn that Paul has felt alone in some of his trials in Rome. He says that only the Lord stood with him. Paul confirms that it is the Lord who is going to successfully bring Paul into His Kingdom.

This is the hope of all Christians.  Have you ever felt alone in a trial?  Have you ever felt abandoned by people who should have supported you?  Paul shows us that Christ is always near.  He is faithful and true.  Ultimately, it is only Christ who will bring you into eternity and His Kingdom.  We all face death alone.  Nobody walks through that door with us, except Christ. This gives us proper perspective in life.  Once we understand what will happen in death, we are better prepared to face life.

Psalm 95:1-96:13

Here is a song of praise for God and His salvation. Here is verse 13, "For the Lord is coming! He is coming to judge the earth.  He will judge the world with righteousness and all the nations with His truth."

Our reading today confirms this.

Proverbs 26:9-12

More poetic comments about fools.  This helps as we deal with fools in our lives.

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24- A Series Of Messages

October 24, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 44:24-47:7; 2 Timothy 2:22-3:17;
Psalm 94:1-23; Proverbs 26:6-8

Jeremiah 44:24-47:7

Here are a series of messages that the Lord has for various people and nations. 

To the Jews in Egypt:

Although they felt that they could flee to Egypt and escape the hand of the Babylonians, they will not be able to run from Nebuchadnezzar. In addition, because they have not given up their devotion to the Queen of Heaven, God will use the Babylonians to punish the Israelites.  Only a few will survive the mayhem that will come upon the land of Egypt.

To Baruch (Jeremiah's friend and assistant):

Although he is not going to have an easy life because of the judgment God is bringing upon his people in Judah, Baruch's life will be preserved. God is going to be with Baruch, even in the midst of his sighing.

To Egypt:

Although Egypt likes to suppose that her army will overflow the land like a flood from the Nile in Springtime and she and her allies will defeat all enemies, in reality Egypt will be defeated by Babylon. 

About King Nebuchadnezzar's attack on Egypt: 

The Pharaoh is a loudmouth who missed his opportunity. The city of Memphis will be destroyed without a single survivor left. Egypt's famous mercenaries will turn and flee from the Babylonians. The Babylonians will come with axes and cut down the people like trees. Egypt will be humiliated and handed over to men from the north.

To Amon (the god of Thebes):

God will punish the idol gods of Egypt. He will also punish the rulers and the Pharaoh for trusting these gods.

To Israel:

God will bring Israel home again from distant lands in the future. They will have peace and quiet one day and will not have anything to fear. God will destroy the nations to which the Israelites have been exiled.  First, God must discipline Israel. God cannot let them go unpunished.

To the Philistines:

The Philistines will be destroyed.  Their time is up.  An army from the north will come and destroy them. The city of Gaza will be demolished. The city of Ashkelon and the people living by the sea must be destroyed by the sword of the Lord.

What do you think about God being able to tell the future in advance and more importantly, His willingness to tell us the future in advance?  What does this tell you about Him?

2 Timothy 2:22-3:17

How must a person who is going to be a Christian leader and teacher behave?  The first thing Paul suggests to Timothy is to RUN from anything that stimulates youthful lust!  How many leaders have been destroyed by a sex scandal?  Way too many have.  But FOLLOW anything that makes you want to do what is right.

Here are other suggestions to Timothy from Paul:
  • Pursue faith, love, and peace.
  • Be a companion of those with pure hearts.
  • Don't get involved with foolish arguments.
  • Be kind to people.
  • Teach effectively and be patient with difficult people.
  • Know that in the last days there will be difficult times.
  • People will only love themselves and money.
  • They will be disrespectful to parents.
  • They will consider nothing sacred.
  • They will be unloving and unforgiving and given to slandering others.
  • They will have no self-control.
  • They will act as if they are religious, but have no power in their faith.
  • Stay away from these sorts of people.
Paul sets himself as an example to Timothy of true faith and confirmed purpose from God. Suffering is part of the program.  Did you hear this, people? Persecution should be expected. Everyone who lives a godly life will suffer. At the same time, it will appear that the evil will flourish.

Do you realize this as you come up against problems?  Do you take these words to heart? Can you take Paul's suggestions to Timothy and apply them to your life?  How?

Rely on the truth found in the Scriptures. 
"Scripture is inspired by God (God breathed) and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
True dat! This is why consistent Bible reading and study can transform your life.

Psalm 94:1-23

This psalm speaks of God eventually judging the earth and making all things right. What a relief!

Proverbs 26:6-8

Don't trust a fool.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 23- Stay Or Face The Consequences

October 23, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 42:1-44:23; 2 Timothy 2:1-21;
Psalm 92:1-93:5; Proverbs 26:3-5

Jeremiah 42:1-44:23

Today we are reading about the remnant of people who were left behind when the majority of the people of Judah were carted away to the land of Babylon.  The people who remain in Jerusalem want to flee to Egypt to prevent any further conflict with Nebuchadnezzar.  The leaders come to Jeremiah to ask him to pray to the Lord for direction on this.

After ten days, the Lord answers Jeremiah and specifically tells the people NOT to go down to the land of Egypt.  The Lord tells this group that He intends to punish Egypt and if they go down there, they will not avoid war, famine, and disease. After hearing this warning, the proud men who were leading the remnant shout that Jeremiah is lying in order to get them killed.  The large crowd including Jeremiah and Baruch end up going down to Egypt because they refused to obey the Lord.

They get as far as the city of Tahpanes in Egypt and the Lord gives Jeremiah another message. In this message the Lord confirms that He is going to send Nebuchadnezzar to Egypt to punish Egypt for their idolatry.  The people of Judah who live in Egypt when this occurs will suffer the consequences.

It is revealed that the Judeans feel that since they have stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven (Ashtoreth), they have fallen upon these hard times.  Jeremiah rebukes them saying that God's judgment has come upon them precisely because they were burning incense to the Queen of Heaven.  Note that the women/wives are blamed for promoting this kind of worship.  It seems to be led by females.  It is interesting to see that the women claim that their husbands willingly followed their lead on this.  Very Adam and Eveish, if you ask me.  Please note that the tendency in our modern Roman Catholic Church to venerate Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and pray to her is treading in the same waters that these early Judeans were swimming in.  It is also what the Apostle Paul was having to deal with in the early church because goddess worship and praying to the Queen of Heaven was still being an issue.  Paul wanted women to be silent in the church to prevent this situation from occurring again.

I must spend a moment discussing that this concept of the Queen of Heaven is a distortion of the promise given in the Bible that the Redeemer Child would come through a woman (Genesis 3:15).  Mankind began to worship the idea of this woman who would bring forth the Savior.  Eventually, people wrongly worshipped this woman as a provider for all fertility and productivity (including crops) on the earth.  God is not pleased with this distortion of truth.  He, alone, is to be worshipped.

Do you see that Mother Earth worship is once again making a comeback in our day?  It behooves Christians to understand the history of what man desires to put before the one true God of the Universe.

2 Timothy 2:1-21

Timothy is called to be a good soldier serving in active duty to God. Paul entreats Timothy to follow God's rules, just as an athlete must follow rules in order to not be disqualified in a competition.

One key thing that Timothy must teach is that Jesus was a man born through the line of King David and that he was raised from the dead. Paul is imprisoned for teaching this. The Good News is that God's Word cannot be put in chains. Paul reminds Timothy that if we die with Christ, we will also live with Him. If we endure hardship, we will also reign in the millennium. If we deny him, he will deny us.

As a pastor Timothy must work hard to show himself approved by God. He is to be a good worker, who is not ashamed and can correctly explain the Word of Truth to others.   Paul feels that he should avoid godless, pointless discussions. Paul is discouraged by two men who have misled people by saying that the resurrection of the dead, which will occur when Christ comes to receive His Church, has already occurred. 

Paul comforts himself by reminding Timothy that the Lord knows those who are His own. Timothy must live a clean life, so that he is a pure utensil that can be used for God's purposes.  In this day and age of sexual promiscuity by our leaders, Paul's advice is a breath of fresh air.

Have you been a good enough workman in the Scriptures to be able to explain God's story to someone else?

Psalm 92:1-93:5

Here is a good song to sing to the Lord!

Proverbs 26:3-5

Love this..."Guide a horse with a whip, a donkey with a bridle, and a fool with a rod to his back!"

What did you notice as you read?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October 22- Time's Up!

October 22, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 39:1-41:18; 2 Timothy 1:1-18;
Psalm 90:1-91:16; Proverbs 26:1-2

Jeremiah 39:1-41:18

Well, you can't say that they weren't warned...  Today, Jeremiah's prophecies come true.  As the reading begins, the Babylonian troops return to Jerusalem and break through the walls. As the Babylonian army sits in triumph, King Zedekiah and his royal guard flee the city at night.  What a coward!  The Babylonians chase Zedekiah and capture him.  When he is brought before King Nebuchadnezzar judgment is pronounced upon him and he is forced to watch all of his sons killed, along with all of the nobles of his land. Zedekiah's eyes are gouged out and he is bound in chains and led away to exile in Babylon.  All that Jeremiah prophesied came true.

Meanwhile, King Nebuchadnezzar is aware of Jeremiah and wants him protected.  He is allowed to live wherever he would like.  Jeremiah chooses to stay in Jerusalem with the other poor people who are left to work the land. Jeremiah stays with the newly appointed governor of the land named Gedaliah.  Life is never easy and we learn that this new governor has enemies in a group of Judean guerrillas.  He is eventually assassinated by the lead guerrilla named Ishmael. This causes a group of the remnant who stayed in Jerusalem to want to escape to Egypt.

Today's passage confirms that God is true to His Word.  He controls history and uses all things to work for His good purposes.  Do you see His hand in your life?  Do you trust that He is involved in the details of your existence?

2 Timothy 1:1-18

Today we begin Paul's final letter written prior to his death by beheading in Rome in the year 68 A.D.  It is a letter tinged with sadness.  Many references are made to the people who were part of Paul's ministry on earth. Advice is given to his spiritual son, Timothy, with emphasis being put on proving himself to be a workman approved by God.

Paul expresses his love for Timothy and his desire to see him again.  There is complete trust in Timothy's faith in the Lord and his heritage of faith passed on from his mother and grandmother.  What a beautiful example of how important a mother can be in the life of an individual. Paul encourages Timothy to never be ashamed to tell others about the Lord.  He also ask that he not be ashamed of his association with Paul, who is facing death. Paul even asks Timothy to be willing to suffer with him for the Good News.

Paul explains that it was God's plan from long ago to send Christ as the Redeemer who would provide everlasting life and redemption.  This is the Good News for which Paul is in prison. Paul states that he knows the One that he trusts, and he is sure that that One is able to guard what he has entrusted to him, namely, his soul.

The Holy Spirit has been entrusted to Timothy and Paul encourages Timothy to be trustworthy with the Holy Spirit by living a godly life. Paul mentions that some of the Asian Christians have deserted him, but Onesiphorus and his family have visited him and encouraged him. Paul hopes that God will reward them when He returns to earth. 

What will God reward you for when He returns to rule on this earth?

Psalm 90:1-91:16

Moses is wise in asking the Lord to teach us to number our days, so we may develop hearts of wisdom.  This is my prayer.

Proverbs 26:1-2

Fools don't receive honor from the Lord.

What did you notice as you read today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Friday, October 21, 2011

October 21- Pinhead Or Patriot?

October 21, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 37:1-38:28; 1 Timothy 6:1-21;
Psalm 89:38-52; Proverbs 25:28

Are you a pinhead or a patriot?  
~Bill O'Reilly

Jeremiah 37:1-38:28

Bill O'Reilly is a famous talking head in America.  As the host of the nightly Bill O'Reilly Show, Bill claims that his show is fair and balanced.  One line he uses is "The spin stops here."  Another segment on his show is called "Pinheads and Patriots."  In this segment, Bill decides if the actions of a person were detrimental or helpful to the country as a whole.  If Bill decides a person is a pinhead, that person has done something that is bad for America.  If the person is a patriot, the person has done or said something that benefits American society. 

Today, the people of Jerusalem have their own opinions as to whether or not the prophet Jeremiah is a pinhead or a patriot.  It just so happens that because Jeremiah has been advocating for Jerusalem and Judah to surrender to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to avoid captivity, Jeremiah is considered a traitor.  Had Bill O'Reilly had a television show in ancient Jerusalem, he would very likely have followed the crowd and called Jeremiah a pinhead.

King Zedekiah is on the throne of Jerusalem.  He is secretly asking for Jeremiah to pray about the national situation. The Egyptians are helping Judah by coming to the southern border and scaring off the Babylonians.  God tells Jeremiah to inform Zedekiah that the Egyptians cannot be trusted as an ally and they will leave.  The Babylonians are going to return and capture the city. 

When the Babylonians leave temporarily, Jeremiah decides to go look at the property in the land of Benjamin that the Lord told him to buy.  As he is leaving the city, he is arrested for abandonment to the Babylonians.  Because of all that he has been saying about surrendering to the Babylonians, Jeremiah is considered a traitor by some people. He is flogged and thrown into the dungeon of Jonathan, the secretary.

King Zedekiah secretly asks for a meeting with Jeremiah to confirm what God says will happen.  With honesty, Jeremiah states God's plans. Jeremiah requests to not be sent back to the dungeon.  The king allows Jeremiah to be imprisoned in the palace courtyard. Jeremiah continues to tell people to surrender.  Court officials consider this treason and feel that Jeremiah is undermining the soldiers' morale.  They get permission to deal with him from the king.  These officials lower Jeremiah into a muddy cistern.  He sinks down into the mud and risks starving to death at the bottom of an abandoned well.

An Ethiopian named Ebed-melech thinks Jeremiah is a patriot for trying to save Judah through God's prophesies.  He begs the king to let him save Jeremiah.  The king allows it. It takes thirty men to pull Jeremiah out of the well. Once again, the king requests to see Jeremiah.  Jeremiah is faithful to his message and recommends surrender.  The king admits that he is scared to surrender to King Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah tries to convince Zedekiah that his life will be spared only if he will listen to God.

Zedekiah has Jeremiah promise to not tell anyone what they have spoken about.  Jeremiah honors the king's request.

Do you sometimes think people feel you are a pinhead for listening to and obeying God?  Do you face trials like being thrown in a well for your Biblical stands?

1 Timothy 6:1-21

Paul encourages Timothy to teach the truths that Paul has laid out in his letter.  He is encouraging Timothy to do this in the face of possibly appearing to be a pinhead!  Paul reminds Timothy that people who quibble over little things and stir up trouble are often using religion to get rich.  Boy, do we have this happening in our day.  Many ministries are started by people who are hoping to profit off of the good will of others.

Paul explains that true religion that is marked by contentment is the best kind of wealth.  Here is a wise statement from Paul, "After all, we didn't bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die."  Because of this, we should be content if we have enough food to eat and enough clothing to wear.  This truth really hit home for me when my mother passed away.  It was sobering to go through her belongings realizing that she left this world and the belongings she had acquired were useless to her in the next world. Many of the items she had were given away to others. She was unable to take any possessions with her as she crossed over.

Paul explains that those who long to be rich get themselves into all kinds of temptations and troubles in the pursuit of money. The love of money is the root of all evil.  Please note that money itself is not evil.  It is the love of it that is bad. The love of money can lead to sinful behaviors done in order to get that money.

Timothy is encouraged not to be that kind of person.  He is to pursue a godly life with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. He is encouraged to fight to hold onto the eternal life, which is given to those who believe in God. Paul reminds Timothy that one day Christ will return to earth as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Christ, alone, can never die. Christ lives in a brilliant light.  Remember, we receive eternal life by having Christ's Spirit that can never die inside of  us.  The implication is that those who do not have God's Spirit will experience the second death that ends their existence. This should speed us to be obedience, living a life of contentment. Money should be used for good works. This stores up treasures in the coming world that lasts forever.

Timothy is encouraged to not waste his time in idle discussions with those who have no intention of following God.

Do you waste your time talking to people who despise God?  Do you love money and constantly think about how many more things you can acquire? Would you describe yourself as content?

Psalm 89:38-52

Vs. 47 says, "Remember how short my life is, how empty and futile this human existence!"

Proverbs 25:28

You put yourself at risk if you do not have self-control.

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 20- Little Strips of Rebellion

October 20, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 35:1-36:32; 1 Timothy 5:1-25;
Psalm 89:14-37; Proverbs 25:25-27

"Maw, I found an old dusty thing high upon the shelf. Just look."
"Why, that's a Bible, Tommy dear, be careful.  That's God's book."
"God's book?" the young one said, "Then, Maw, before we lose it
We'd better send it back to God, 'cause you know we never use it."
~Anonymous

Jeremiah 35:1-36:32

I've known people over the years who take certain parts of the Bible and refuse to deal with what it says. They profess to love God and be Christians, but if the truth were told, they want to believe in God on their own terms and with their own ideas intact. They essentially take parts of the Bible, cut them out, and throw them into the trash. Today, King Jehoakim demonstrates this very attitude towards God's Word.

Jeremiah is told to begin with all that God has told him from the time of King Josiah through to the time of King Jehoakim about Judah and Jerusalem and God's coming judgment.  God wants all of the punishments that will come upon Jerusalem and Judah to be spelled out in hopes that the people will repent and avoid judgment.  Jeremiah dictates all of the prophesies and judgments to a man named Baruch.  Because of his imprisonment, Jeremiah asks Baruch to read these words from the scroll to the people in the Temple in Jerusalem.  It happens to be a holy time when people will be coming to the Temple.  Baruch faithfully reads the scroll publicly. 

When certain leaders and advisers to the king hear the prophesies and coming judgments, they ask for a private reading of the scroll.  Baruch obliges and the leaders are very frightened at the revelation from God in the scrolls.  They insist that the scrolls be brought to the king and  read in his presence.  A man named Jehudi is given this assignment.  As Jehudi reads the scroll, after each three or four column section, King Jehoakim takes his knife, slices the parchment, and throws the slices of the scroll into the fire. He does this section by section until the whole scroll is burned up.  Little by little, his disrespect for God's Word is revealed.  Jehoakim is boldly unrepentant in the face of his nation's sins.

The king commands that Jeremiah and Baruch be arrested, but they are hidden away, having anticipated the king's reaction. Jeremiah is told by God to re-dictate the whole scroll and add even more information.  King Jehoakim is given the prophecy that he will die a dishonorable death and will never have heirs sit on the throne of David.  This prophecy came true.  Jesus is not a descendant of Jehoakim.  He is a descendant of Nathan, not Solomon.

Do you ever act like Jehoakim by mentally burning sections of Scripture so that you do not have to listen to what God says?  Are there sections of the Bible that you refuse to believe?  Learn from the story of Jehoakim, be repentant rather than rebellious.

1 Timothy 5:1-25

We are in a gigantic financial mess in the United States because of the way we spend the money our government collects in taxes.  One of the issues facing our country is how to fund and administer programs designed to help the poor.  Initially, Social Security was set up to help widows and orphans.  It eventually expanded to include a retirement pension for every person over 55 years of age in the United States who had contributed in the work force.  Medicare/Medicaid and Obamacare are programs designed to help with medical costs for citizens of the United States. But are these programs biblical?  Today, we get a glimpse into God's ideas of who to help and how to help those in need.

Paul is advising Timothy on how to shepherd a group of Christians.  Part of leading a group is dealing with the financial needs of some of the people within the church.  This is a tricky situation, as churches are often the first place people go when they get in financial trouble.  What is the obligation of the local church to the poor?  What is God's vision for how society is to deal with those in need?

The first thing Paul mentions to Timothy is that all people should be treated with respect.  With regard to widows, here are the stipulations:
  • The church should care for the widows who have no other family to support them. Vs. 3
  • If the woman has family including children or grandchildren, it is their responsibility to care for her first. Vs. 4
  • The widow must be godly in her behavior in order to receive help from the church.  This would include having been a faithful wife, with no cheating, and she must be at least sixty years old. Vs. 9
  • She must be well respected because of the good that she has done. Vs. 10
  • She should have been kind to strangers, raised her children well, served humbly, helped others, and always been ready to do good. Vs. 10
  •  Younger widows should remarry and not be supported by the church. Vs. 11
  • The church can only care for widows who are truly alone. Vs. 16
We learn through this passage that God intends for the family unit to be the primary unit for support of individual needs.  The church is to supplement where there is no family.  Throughout this passage, Paul describes God being pleased when families care for their own and displeased when this responsibility is shirked. 

In light of this, do you think it is Biblical for the government to be supporting all of these individuals through social programs?  Is this God's best plan?  Why do you think God prefers for the family to be independent and self-sufficient?  Why do you think behavior is a key to receiving support from the Church which represents God?

Do we owe our money to the ungodly?  Is giving money to others a legitimate witnessing/missions tool according to Paul? Are you tempted to treat this part of Scripture by cutting it out and throwing it in the fire?  If you ignore these truths, you are doing just that.

Psalm 89:14-37

Read this psalm and picture Christ being an earthly ruler during a time of peace and prosperity on earth.

Proverbs 25:25-27

Compromise is not good and having correct and humble thinking is important.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 19- Spoiler Alert!

October 19, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 33:1-34:22; 1 Timothy 4:1-16;
Psalm 89:1-13; Proverbs 25:23-24

Jeremiah 33:1-34:22

As our reading begins, Jeremiah is still in prison.  Nebuchadnezzar is going to overtake the city of Jerusalem, and Jeremiah has trusted and obeyed the Lord and bought a piece of property in the area, even though he has been told of the future destruction of Jerusalem.  Jeremiah is a man who is honest with God.  He is able to ask "why?" God gives Jeremiah a spoiler on how the story ends.  In answer to his question, God tells Jeremiah that He intends to bring the people of Israel back to the Promised Land in the future, and He is going to fulfill His promise to King David in 2 Samuel 7.  One of David's descendants is going to rule from the throne in Jerusalem. 

Who is this descendant who will rule?  Well, it is not the corrupt King Zedekiah.  We learn in today's reading that Zedekiah is going to be captured by King Nebuchadnezzar and carted away to Babylon.  God explains that another reason for Judah's captivity is their practice of enslaving their own people.  Slavery of fellow Israelites was allowed under the condition that the person was freed from slavery on the seventh year.  The Israelites were violating this covenant. God is anticipating a day in the future when a ruler will rule in Jerusalem with righteousness.  No covenants will be violated.  Who will this be? David's descendant is none other than Jesus Christ, who is alive and seated at the right hand of God the Father.  He will rule on this earth in the millennium and fulfill His promise to the nation of Israel.  God keeps reminding us in Scripture that God controls history.  This is His Story of redemption and restoration.  We are part of this story.  Jeremiah's prophesies were not only for the Jews of that day, but for all of mankind, who anticipate God's work on this earth.

The prophets in the Old Testament are given glimpses of the future.  God reveals that His promises will be fulfilled.  It is easy to see why the people of Jesus' day were anticipating this earthly rule of Christ on earth.  They conveniently ignored Isaiah's book about a suffering and bruised Savior.  They fast- forward to the triumphant son of David, who will rule in righteousness.  From our perspective, it is easy to only focus on Christ who died on the cross and saved us from our sins.  We, too, must look to Scripture to understand the end of the story.  We must have faith in the coming King.  We must realize that our future is a future where Christ rules in an earthly kingdom for one thousand years.  He fulfills His promise to be an earthly ruler. 

What do you think of this?  Do you look forward to having an earthly ruler who is actually just and righteous?  Can you imagine a system where fairness reigns?

1 Timothy 4:1-16

As we look to the letter to Timothy, we see that the Apostle Paul is having to warn Timothy that we are not in the perfect reign of Christ just yet.  Paul warns Timothy that in the end times the Church will accept false teachings and will become apostate.  To be apostate is to have professed faith in Christ and then turn from the truth of the teachings of Christ.  There have always been false teachers in the Church. 

Paul describes these teachers as hypocrites and liars. They claim that marriage is wrong and eating certain foods is wrong.  This attempt to have spirituality determined by these man made rules infuriates Paul. He encourages Timothy to explain the truth to the brothers and sisters in the church in Ephesus, where Timothy is the pastor.

Paul likens spending time learning about God as spiritual exercise.  Just as physical exercise is good for the body and keeps you healthy, time spent in spiritual exercise helps you become fit for eternity.  The spiritual work you do on this earth is not time wasted.  Your growth will impact how you spend the rest of your time with God in eternity.  This is mind boggling.  You should all be happy that you have committed to studying the Bible this year.  You have developed nice spiritual muscles for eternity!

Timothy is encouraged to be an example of a strong Christian, even though he is a young person. This is an encouragement to all young people that they do not have to live lives of rebellion.  Even young people can have a mighty impact for the Lord. His life must reflect holiness and love. How should he pastor?  According to verse 13, Timothy should read the Holy Scriptures to the church, encourage believers, and teach them.  Our churches today would be good to get back to basics and focus on this.

Paul tells Timothy to throw himself into this work.  Always monitor your own progress.  Do you do this as a Christian?  Do you throw yourself into the study of God's Word? 

Psalm 89:1-13

This psalm focuses on the promise made to David that his descendant will be on the throne forever.  This is what God was explaining to Jeremiah today.

Proverbs 25:23-24

Contentious women are intolerable.  So are gossips.

What did you see as you read today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18- Putting The Law In Your Mind

October 18, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 31:27-32:44; 1 Timothy 3:1-16;
Psalm 88:1-18; Proverbs 25:20-22

Jeremiah 31:27-32:44

My husband went to law school.  I am proud to say that he graduated 14th in his class and had the distinction of being named to the Order of the Coif.  That is an elite group of honor students.  It would be nice if this honor came with great ease, but the truth of the matter is that although my husband is very smart, he had to work many hours to become proficient in the law.  Hours and hours of study resulted in the law being firmly planted in his brain.  Today, God promises the people of Israel that in that future day when they are reconciled to Him, He will put the laws of God in their minds and will write them on their hearts automatically.  They will not even have to teach their children about God, because everyone will know Him intimately.  

Today, Jeremiah has to trust God with the future. In chapter 32, Jeremiah is told by God to buy a field from his cousin, Hananmel.  At this time, Jeremiah is in prison having been jailed by King Zedekiah.  King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has breached the walls of Jerusalem and is prepared to conquer the city.  It is a dark time for Israel, and yet, the Lord is encouraging Jeremiah to purchase property.
This may seem like a strange thing for God to ask Jeremiah to do, but Jeremiah puts his trust in God and purchases the field.  The deed is put into a pottery jar for safe keeping and God declares that someday people will again own property in this land. 
Jeremiah cries out to God questioning the wisdom of buying property when God has declared that Babylon will conquer Jerusalem and take the people into captivity. We can all learn from Jeremiah’s faith and his honesty with God.  We can believe in God and yet cry out to Him with questions and concerns.
God responds that nothing is too hard for Him. Jerusalem will fall as a result of God’s punishment of the Israelites, but God will surely bring His people back to the land from all the countries where He scattered them. It is then that the law will be in their hearts and minds.  They will follow Him with one heart and one mind in the future.
Jeremiah is reassured by God that purchasing the field was no mistake.  Not only will a remnant of Israel be gathered back into the Promised Land in seventy years, they will one day be gathered back permanently to live with God in peace. What steps of faith have you taken based on God’s promises?
1 Timothy 3:16
Today we get more instruction from the Apostle Paul on how the Church should conduct itself.  Good leadership is the key to success in our endeavors here on this earth.  God inspires Paul to list the qualities that an elder of the Church must possess. This word is translated “bishop,” which means overseer.  This could also be called a shepherd, pastor, or minister.  This title was always meant as one who served the body of Christ, rather than one who was to rule over the church. 
Here are what qualifies someone to be a pastor/elder:
·        The husband of one wife. Polygamy was common in this day, but was not to be practiced by Christian leaders.
·        He must exhibit self-control, be serious about his position and have a good reputation in the community.
·        He is to be hospitable, able and willing to invite people into his home.
·        He must have the gift of being able to teach the Word of God to people.
·        He must not be a heavy drinker.  No need to explain this.
·        He must be gentle and oriented towards peace with others.
·        He must not love money and rely on it as an idol in his life.
·        He must be able to manage his own family well.  This shows wisdom and discernment. A man cannot serve the house of God if he cannot serve his own house well.
·        He should not be a new Christian.  Leadership would lead to pride in this case. 
Next, we have qualifications to be a deacon.  Deacon means servant or worker. These people deal with the practical and material concerns of the Church, but should also be spiritual in their qualifications. Here are the qualifications for a deacon:
·        A person who is respected and has integrity.  They must be honest in nature.
·        Should not be heavy drinkers.
·        Should not be greedy for money.
·        Should be committed to the truth of Christ and live lives of clear conscience.
·        Have proven their trustworthiness through other service to the Church.
·        Wives/families should not be gossips and speak evil of others.
·        They should be faithful to spouses and faithful in all things.
Paul reminds Timothy that everyone’s faith must rest on the mystery that Christ appeared in the flesh, was righteous by the Holy Spirit, was seen by angels and the nations, was believed and taken up into Heaven.  This is what leaders in the Church must believe.
Do you believe this?
Psalm 88:1-18
Read this as if you are hearing Christ in His death. These are the words of the God who died for our sins.
Proverbs 25:20-22
We are to care for our enemies according to the Bible.  This goes against human nature.

What did you notice as you read today?
Blessings,
Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton