Baby Striper

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

While this is 39lbs smaller than what Nathan is looking for, a baby fish is better than no fish! No worries, this fish has been set free to grow and mature for the next angler!

Lord God, thank You for the opportunity to fish in the rain. You do not call us to sunny and moderate conditions but You call us to evangelize and disciple in the midst of sinful humanity’s sin and brokenness. Lord God, teach us that what looks small if You are in it can grow beyond what we can even begin to think or comprehend.

Lord God, thank You for this reader! Thank You for their encouragement, support and kindness toward me. Lord God, fill this reader with the Peace of Your Presence. Stir their heart to call others and help others grow in Christ while there is still time. May we keep putting ourselves out in this world as salt and light even though the conditions and climate literally and metaphorically are getting more difficult. Thank You again Lord for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Love you, Kelly!

Kelly and I

On Monday October 4, 2021 Kelly arrived in Lancaster from Fort Worth, Texas. Kelly and I met in July 2010 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. From the moment that I met Kelly I was inspired and challenged by her unwavering love and devotion for Christ and others. Few people have had such an impact on my Jesus Journey as Kelly.

This is the longest that I have gone without seeing Kelly. From the beginning of the pandemic Kelly has worked in an ICU that strictly saw covid patients. The amount of suffering and death that Kelly has seen is beyond what I can comprehend. Kelly has one last shift left at her hospital and then she will be heading to the Dominican Republic in which she will serve the Lord through helping women and children with a Christian organization.

I praise God for friendship. I praise God for the opportunity to have spent time with Kelly. While I am deeply sad (and have tears running as I type this) that Kelly is on her way back to Fort Worth, I would not have traded this time with her for anything!

While she was here, we read 2 Peter together on Tuesday and yesterday we read Jude. It is amazing that God in His grace has given us these warnings of false prophets, false teachings so that we will not be led astray. Lies and manipulation are hallmarks of this world but for those who are in Christ we know that Christ is Light and Truth. May we continue to walk and shine Christ’s Light!

I am thankful for the meals Kelly and I were able to share with Nathan. It is beautiful to see how much Kelly and Nathan get along. Truth be told, when I first met Nathan I thought that he and Kelly would be really good together and they both said, “NO!” While I am NOT a camper, mountain climber like Nathan and Kelly, I am glad they can encourage each other in these shared experiences and interests. Kelly helps me to understand Nathan by giving me a different perspective.

What I love the most about my friendship with Kelly is that even though we have very different interests, our friendship is deeply rooted in our love and passion for Christ and others. I am also thankful and humbled that Kelly sees the love that I have for her and for Nathan. I am SO thankful for the opportunity to have hosted and served Kelly and in return, I am SO thankful for how Kelly brought love, joy and the fruit of the Spirit to encourage and bolster me!

Lord God, thank You for the incredible gift of friendship. Relationships are messy and I KNOW that I am not always an easy person to love so thank You for Your grace and mercy that You give to me and give to others who love, live and deal with me!

Lord God, thank You for Kelly. Thank You for her heart to visit Nathan and I before heading to the Dominican Republic. Lord God, prepare Kelly for the Dominican Republic and prepare the Dominican Republic for her. Lord God, prepare the family Kelly will be staying with for her and prepare Kelly for the family. Lord God, make Kelly’s efforts successful! Lord God, use this time to refresh, restore and renew Kelly. Lord, use Kelly to bring life to others as she brings life to me. Lord God, thank You for the friendship that You are cultivating between Kelly, Nathan and I. Thank You and praise You Lord that we all get along and that we love and care for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, may they have a friend who sticks closer than a brother. May they be a friend to others even when it is messy and difficult. Lord God, for the reader who may not want friends or does not have close friends, Lord God, send me, send a believer into this person’s life. You have NOT called us to do life alone. Lord God, for those of us who are bent more toward solitude convict our hearts that You have wired us for community.

Lord God, thank You again for Kelly! May Kelly be Your Hands and Feet no matter where she is, no matter what work she is doing. Lord God, help all of us to be more like Christ. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Fog Bank

Fog Bank on the Susquehanna River. 2 October 2021. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known (1 Cor 13:12 ESV).

Lord God, thank You that for those of us who are in Christ there will be a day when the veil will be removed and we will see You more clearly, glorifying and serving You forever.

Lord God, thank You that even when we are confused, facing a wall of darkness or a situation with no light ahead, thank You and praise You that we can move forward trusting in who You are. Lord, give this reader clarity where they are confused. Give this reader hope where there is darkness. Lord God, thank You that even though we don’t know what lies ahead, we know that You do.

Lord, in light of my scenery this morning, remind us that our lives are but a mist that is here for a time and then vanishes (Jas 4:14). In all things Lord may we seek to do Your will, making our mist matter to You and to others.

Thank You Lord for all the ways You use Your Creation to teach me spiritual truths and lessons! Thank You again for this reader! In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

October 2021 Prayer

“Sunroom in Autumn.” 1 October 2021; photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

Lord God, thank You for this new month. Lord sharpen our focus so that we will be effective watchmen and lookouts for You this month. Lord God, cause us to grow in spiritual discernment this month so that we will not be swayed or taken in by false shepherds/leaders, false prophets and false teachers. Lord God, weed out the false leaders, pastors and teachers in Your Body who are not meeting the needs of Your people but rather exploiting them for their own selfish gain. Lord God, for those who are being deceived by the NAR and the health and wealth prosperity gospel have their eyes opened to Your Truth. Lord God, thank You and praise You that there will be a day when You hold all these charlatans accountable for the harm that have done to Your Name.

Lord God, give us wisdom and humble hearts so that we will not be deceived by all the lies that surround us. Lord God, help us to focus on Your Truth. Lord, help us to hold all things that we read, hear and see up to Your Word. Lord God, help us to live by faith and not by sight and emotions. Lord God, remind my brothers and sisters in the faith today that the law always reflects the law giver and only Your Law gives life. Only Your Law and Your Rule is Just. May we not lose sight of that Lord.

Lord God, thank You that You are greater than we can even begin to imagine. Thank You that EVERYTHING You do has a purpose whether we understand it or like it. Lord, there are things that happen in this life that are difficult to reconcile. There is suffering in the world and may Christians not shy away from conversations on suffering but share how You, Jesus understand and identify with our sufferings. Jesus may we never, ever forget that You are fully God and fully Man. Lord, You do not require us to understand everything or know everything; but, You do require that we follow You in obedience.

Thank You Lord that faith in You is not a blind a blind faith, but a reasoned and orderly faith. Lord God, help us to grow this month in appreciating our salvation. Lord God, help us to remain faithful rather than compromising and losing heart.

Lord God, thank You for this reader! Lord God, it humbles me that You know the needs of each and every person. It humbles me Lord that there has never been, nor will there ever be a language on earth which You do not know. Lord God, as hostility towards You and Your people grows all over the world, thank You and praise You that we can come to You and converse with You anytime, anywhere and in any language. Lord God, help us grow this month is recognizing that we do NOT belong to ourselves or to our small little circles. We belong to You and to Your Body. Help us to seek out ways to do good to people in this new month.

Lord God, for the person reading this who does not know You or who is questioning the faith; may today be the day of salvation. Lord God, when unbelievers see the changing of the seasons, may this also be an avenue which points them to You. Thank You Lord that You are intimately and actively involved in Your Creation! Praise You Lord that You are still in the heart changing business! Thank You that NOTHING we do will merit our salvation, it is Your Work from beginning to end. Lord God, thank You for Your love and patience with us. Thank You for Your correction and discipline, even when it hurts.

Lord God, may our love, passion and prayers increase this month. May we seek to use our words (whether oral or written) to praise and glorify You, encourage believers and share the Gospel with the lost. Thank You again Lord for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Watchmen

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. 

“So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul” (Ezekiel 33:1-9 ESV).

In verse 2, Alter translates watchman (qal, participle, ms, absolute) as lookout and “the connotation is clearly military: he is the person posted in a tower on a height to look out for and warn the people of approaching armies, as the prophet sees and warns of impending disaster” (The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary vol 2, 2019, p. 1151).

The trumpet that is used to warn the people is the shofar or ram’s horn (v 3, see pictures above). The shofar was used to muster troops, warn of attacks and was also used in religious ceremonies to call the people of Israel together (for example: Ex 19:16; Lev 23:24; 25:9). The shofar is mentioned more than any other instrument in the Bible at 72 times. “It is the only instrument of ancient Israel which survives in its original form and is still used in Jewish liturgy” (W. Elwell and B. Beitzel, “Music and Musical Instruments” BEB, 1988, p. 1510).

For the person who failed to hear Ezekiel’s shofar blast of impending doom, their blood was on their own head. Had the person taken the lookout’s warning seriously, they would have saved their life (vv 4-5). This person’s death is solely upon that person, not the watchman!

Now, if the watchman/lookout sees calamity approaching and does not blow the shofar warning people, and that person dies in their sin, the blood of that person the Lord will require from the hand of the watchman (v 6). The Lord reminds Ezekiel again of his divine calling (see Eze 3:17) to warn the house of Israel (v 7) of the coming destruction of Jerusalem. Again, the Lord says that if he fails to warn people of the coming destruction “retribution will be extracted from him” (Alter, p. 1152).

The Lord says to Ezekiel again that if he warns the wicked person and they do not take heed to his warning, the person will die in their sins; however, Ezekiel will have delivered his soul (v 9). Ezekiel, the watchman/lookout is NOT responsible how the message is received, he is responsible to deliver it!

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have MUCH to warn others about today. As Cooper states, “Warning others of the consequences of judgment inherent in sin is never a popular assignment. Believers have a duty to be “watchmen” who warn those who are in the world and are without God of the destructive nature of sin and its final irrevocable result—death and hell (33:1–33). Our responsibility is to warn and proclaim as persuasively as possible, but how the message is received is beyond our control” (Ezekiel NAC, 1994, p. 294).

It is the responsibility of every believer to be diligent watchmen and lookouts. We live in an extraordinary time where end time events are beginning to unfold like never before. In a world that celebrates conformity, tolerance and acceptance of all kinds of evil; may we be watchmen and lookouts blowing the shofar that God’s Wrath and Judgment are coming and that unbelievers need to repent and be saved because sin itself will not spend eternity in hell, but rather unrepentant sinners.

Lord God, help us to keep watch, to be on the lookout and to warn sinners that You are real and that You will not be mocked. Lord God, help each believer to understand they are called to be a watchman and a lookout. This is a serious responsibility. While there are many things that we can blow the shofar about geopolitically, economically help us to not lose sight of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and that the Kingdom of God is at hand! Lord God, help us to love You and Your Word and Truth more than this world and its message of lies. Help us to conform to You and not this world. Thank You Lord for this reader! May our lives glorify You today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Psalm 119:73-80

Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

Yodh

73  Your hands have made and fashioned me; 

give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. 

74  Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, 

because I have hoped in your word. 

75  I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, 

and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. 

76  Let your steadfast love comfort me 

according to your promise to your servant. 

77  Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; 

for your law is my delight. 

78  Let the insolent be put to shame, 

because they have wronged me with falsehood; 

as for me, I will meditate on your precepts. 

79  Let those who fear you turn to me, 

that they may know your testimonies. 

80  May my heart be blameless in your statutes, 

that I may not be put to shame! 

ESV

The psalmist begins this stanza with a statement of confidence and trust. “As the Lord originally formed the first human (Gen 2:7), so the psalmist asserts that the Lord’s hands made and formed him…He wants to learn from the one who fashioned him and who knows him completely, so he calls on the Lord to give him understanding that will enable him to learn what he has commanded. He needs understanding from God if he is to learn God’s word” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 418).

The foundational truth of life, whether one likes it or not, is that God made us, God formed us, God established us. The psalmist is absolutely certain of this truth; thus, he prays asking the Lord to give him understanding (hiphil, imperative, 2ms with 1cs suffix). This is a verb of causation. The psalmist is asking the Lord to cause him to have understanding. God is the Agent causing this not the psalmist. Ross states, “[this] is a prayer for God to finish his work of creation: God made us for a purpose, and to fulfill that purpose we need spiritual understanding to learn God’s commandments…In the psalmist’s mind, since God made him, God must instruct him. And because of the crises that he faced in life, he realized his need for understanding was urgent if he was to live blamelessly (v. 80)” (A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 528).

Those who see the psalmist’s faith and hope in the Lord’s Word will rejoice (v 74). The psalmist is “confident that how he responds to the Lord will prompt others to praise the Lord as well” (Estes, p. 418). Often times the afflictions and sufferings that believers undergo are not for the person experiencing it but for those around the person to see the Lord. Like Job, may we seek to suffer well when the Lord has us in times of affliction, suffering and hardship so that others may see and praise Him.

In verse 75 the psalmist knows that Lord’s rules/judgments are right and that He is faithful in affliction (see verse 67). “The affliction he has been experiencing came from God, even though it was through arrogant oppressors…Nothing is said in this stanza about the affliction being a punishment for sin. While that may be a possibility, it is more likely the affliction was God’s way of testing him for obedience. Those who understand the ways of God know that ultimately it is his plan to exalt the righteous and destroy the wicked, but that in his wisdom he often humbles the righteous before exalting them” (Ross, p. 529).

The psalmist earnestly asks the Lord that His covenant faithfulness comfort him (v 76). The psalmist (as he has done throughout this psalm) refers to himself as servant and makes his appeal on the basis of the Lord’s promise (covenant). Next the psalmist petitions the Lord for His mercy to come to him, that he can live (v 77). The psalmist wants the Lord to end his affliction; however, “even in affliction the psalmist delights in God’s law—the divine test has proven his faith, and so now it is time for relief” (Ross, p. 531).

The psalmist asks for the arrogant/insolent people to be put to shame for the wrong they are causing him by speaking lies/falsehoods (v 78). “As the arrogant focus on speaking falsehoods against him, the psalmist focuses his attention on meditating on God’s truth. For the arrogant truth is dispensable, but for the psalmist it is indispensable because his life is shaped by God’s word as he assimilates it through the process of meditation…The psalmist longs for the Lord to give to the arrogant the shame they have attempted to inflict on him…” (Estes, p. 419).

The psalmist as he did in verse 74 asks the Lord for those who fear Him to see his faith and know the Lord’s testimonies (v 79). “Because the psalmist feels alone in adversity, he longs for others who like him revere the Lord to come alongside him in his time of affliction ([in v 63] the psalmist states that he is a friend of all who fear the Lord). This is fellowship built on shared commitment to the Lord and his word” (Estes, p. 419).

The psalmist ends this stanza asking for his heart to be blameless and that he not be put to shame (v 80). The psalmist wants his heart to be pure and blameless so that he may obey God. “Godly living throughout the Bible begins in the heart and works out into transformed behavior; it is not a cosmetic makeover that tries to produce the appearance of godliness through actions that are not prompted by a heart devoted to the Lord” (Estes, p. 419).

May we honor and obey the Lord by our walk matching our talk. May we be wholeheartedly devoted to obeying Christ rather than giving into fear of being put to shame for our hope and faith in Christ.

Lord God, Your Word never ceases to amaze me. Lord God, help us to know Your Word, to study Your Word and to apply Your Word. Lord God, may we never forget that good theology moves from the head, to the heart to the hand. Lord God, there is SO much deception in our world today, may we hold EVERYTHING we read, hear and see up to the light of Scripture!!!! Lord God, thank You that as You have made, formed and established this world, so have You made, formed and fashioned us! Lord God, cause us to understand Your Word. Holy Spirit, convict us and help us to understand and apply Your Word! Stir in us a desire to learn Your commandments!

Lord God, may those who come in contact with us rejoice in You. May we manifest the fruit of Your Spirit regardless of our circumstances. Lord God, as harassment and hatred for Christians increases, may we be like the early church counting it all joy to be worthy to suffer for Christ. I know this is easier said than done. Lord work on my heart to suffer well for You hoping in Your Word! Lord God, we know that affliction produces endurance, help us to depend on Your strength. Lord may we cling to Your hesed. May we hold fast to Your Covenant Faithfulness knowing that You will never do anything that violates who You are and how You work.

Lord God, may we be servants who comfort others as You have comforted us. Lord, thank You and praise You that Your Goodness and Mercy are never far from us. Lord, may we delight in Your Word until You call us home. May we never forget that vengeance is Yours. Thank You Lord that someday when You see fit You will hold all those who have persecuted Your people throughout time accountable. In the meantime, may we again be a people who show and tell about You to this dark and dying world. Lord God, may we choose to obey You. May we choose to be holy as You are holy. May we choose to keep our hearts pure for You, obeying You regardless of what it costs. May we fear being separated from You, disappointing You, not in a works based righteousness way, but because we love You and want to please You. Thank You Lord for this reader. Fill them with Your grace and truth today so that they may glorify You wherever You have them today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.