Malachi or Chronicles?!

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I love the Bible that Jesus read (aka the Old Testament). I do not want to ruffle any feathers; however, the Bible that Jesus read, taught, lived and loved is not ordered the same way as our English translations.

The Hebrew Bible is arranged in three major parts, known by the acronym TaNaK.

The T stands for Torah (Pentateuch in Greek) which means either Law or Instruction. These are the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

The stands for Nevi’im which means Prophets.  This section is divided into the “Former Prophets” which consists of Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings (in English we call these “Historical Books”) and the “Latter Prophets” Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, The Twelve (which in English we call the “Minor Prophets”).

The K stands for Ketuvim which means Writings. This large section includes Psalms, Wisdom Literature (Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes) and Post-Exilic Writings (Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, 1-2 Chronicles).

(Please note in the Hebrew Bible: 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, Ezra-Nehemiah, 1-2 Chronicles are all one book, they are not separate books as presented in our English translations.)

Every year at Christmas we hear how Malachi ends with God’s promise to send a forerunner for the Messiah (Mal 4:6 ESV). We also hear how Malachi ends the OT and that for 400 years God did not speak until Matthew 1. However, when we look at the Hebrew order, it is not Malachi that closes the Hebrew Bible but, 1-2 Chronicles.

Why does this matter? 1-2 Chronicles begins with a long genealogy (nine chapters). The book (OT) ends with Cyrus’s decree to allow the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple. While the literal physical exile was coming to a close, Israel was still in “spiritual” exile. In Matthew, the New Testament opens, with the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the long awaited Davidic king. The genealogy of Jesus Christ found in Matthew 1 is the culmination of the genealogies of 1-2 Chronicles. When we read the Bible in this order, rather than in the order of our English translations, we will see the beauty, hope, anticipation and longing for Messiah. Ultimately, when we read the Hebrew Bible in this order, we read in the same order as Jesus Himself. God willing our English translations will follow the Hebrew order sooner rather than later!

Father God, thank You for Your Word! Thank You, Jesus, for all that You have done to end our captivity and exile both in this life and the next. Thank You for the gift of salvation. Lord regardless of what theological camp we may belong, may we be mindful that people do not roam around with big “E’s” on their forehead. May we be mindful to share and show Jesus to this dark and hurting world in a way that is authentic and bold; yet, brings glory and honor to Your Name. Lord God, help us to read Your Word as You originally intended. Lord God, thank You for the gift of communication, far too often we take this for granted. Lord God, thank You for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Vagabond

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Since getting married two years ago, I have been in a constant state of wandering. Nathan and I thought that God was moving us to Florida, listed the house for sale and off we went (the house sold the end of July 2019). Since moving back to PA (September 2019) we have been renting a place (which is nice do not get me wrong); however, it is not home. We have visited countless houses that are for sale. Multiple times a day I check the web to see if there are new listings in the area. I have also spoken with a contractor about building. So far, nothing has panned out.

I have to be honest, I really loved my house that I sold. I knew when Nathan and I got married that I would have to sell my house because, well, it was “my” house. I was critical of everything he did. I prided myself on having a clean and empty garage, that changed quickly! What I hold onto the most from my former house is the view. I was able to watch the sunrise every morning and there was a stream behind my house with weeping willow trees. I absolutely love willow trees. Try as I might to accept that this is a different time in life and that I needed to let go of that house and view, the loss still creeps in from time to time.

What makes this even more acute is that yesterday (January 14, 2020) I put an offer on a house, only to be told that another buyer offered more money. I refused to get in a bidding war and so my offer was not accepted. While to most people that may be a disappointment; however, I feel anger and discontentment rising in my being. Instead of lying or hiding this anger and discontentment, I will heed Tony Evan’s counsel, “tell the truth, shame the devil!”

I realize this post may sound really, really trivial. I know that God is growing and stretching my character. I have an ever greater appreciation for the Israelites 40 years of wandering. I am growing in my sensitivity that my desire and longing for home, will only be satisfied in Christ. I am so thankful that for those of us who know Christ we are never homeless (John 14:1-3). Peace is not a physical location, it is not a life free from conflict and struggle, peace is a Person and His Name is Jesus. I need that to be enough!

Father God, for anyone who is struggling and longing for home, may they come home to You. Thank You Father that You do not leave us on our own. Lord God, thank You that You give us community so that we do not have to do life alone, even if we feel alone. Lord God, draw us closer to Yourself. May we submit our longings, desires and weaknesses to You. Thank You Lord for this reader. Thank You for their care and encouragment. Lord God, fill us with the peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

 

Welcome, 2020!

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Happy New Year! Happy January! May the 2020s be filled with joy and contentment, regardless of our circumstances!

Father God, thank You for this New Year and this new decade. Lord God, prepare us for this New Year. Prepare us for the difficulties and challenges that we may face. Lord God, only You know what this next year and dedicate holds. Lord, strengthen Your people to stand for Truth. Father God, for those who wept and mourned in 2019, may this new year be one of joy. Lord God, thank You that You are ALWAYS with us. Thank You that You never waste a hurt. Lord God, I do not know what this reader is facing; however, I know that You are in their boat and will calm their winds, waves and fears. Lord God, may You flood Your people with the peace of Your presence.

Lord God, only You know what will happen amongst the nations in this next decade. Thank You Lord that You always leave a remnant. May we have the courage and confidence to endure whatever may come our way. Lord God, as You know, suffering is not easy. However, to be a child of yours includes some form of suffering. May we suffer well for Your Name’s sake and glory. Lord God, grow us more to be like Christ. May we treasure Your Word in our heart more this year. May we preach Your Word to ourselves in times when our courage and confidence lacks. Lord, prepare us to be used by You.

Thank You Lord for this reader. Thank You Lord for all the love and support that I have received from readers in 2019. Lord, I ask that You will use this blog to bring glory, honor and praise to You and to encourage and strengthen my brothers and sisters in Christ. Lord God, thank You for this reader. May they set spiritual goals that will bring them closer to You and transform them more into Christ’s image. Lord, Thank You for the gift of life! In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Christmas Prayer

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Sunrise, Lancaster, PA 25 December 2019. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Jesus, thank You for the opportunity to celebrate Your birth. Remind us that today is about You and what You have done. Jesus, Thank You for Your Incarnation. May we NEVER forget that for the first time in human history, when You were born was sinful man able to see God’s face and live. Thank You Jesus for coming and dwelling among us. May we give You the praise, glory, honor that is Yours, not just today but everyday.
Jesus, thank You that Your birth is the beginning of man’s reconciliation with God. Jesus, You are the Light of the World, may we never forget this Truth. May we be the light that You have called Your people to be, pointing others to You.

Triune God, thank You for the gift of salvation. Lord, for those who are hurting today, I ask that You will give them comfort. For those who are stressed by the consumerism and commercialism of this day, may they rest in knowing who You are. Lord, in all things may we be reminded that the baby in the manger, grew up, went to the cross and suffered and died for us and three days later rose from the grave defeating death, pain, sickness. Lord, this Christmas may we be reminded that Jesus’s presence is our greatest Christmas present. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Me Box

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I have been spending WAY too much time in my “me box” lately. The best way for me to define my “me box” is that life is all about me. The sun rises and sets on me and my disappointments, despair, frustrations, fears, anxieties, worries and lack of control. My “me box” focuses on my hurts, my needs, my wants, my desires, my problems.

What I hate the most about my “me box” is that I have no choice but to reek like its contents. When I was younger, I did not care how dirty my clothes were. I would wear my jeans for weeks at a time without washing them (praise God for curing me of this nastiness!). When I spend time in my “me box” I literally put on clothing that reek of irritation, anger, frustration, impatience, discord, disgust. The last thing I seek when I am spending time in my “me box” is putting on peace and unity. When I am asked, “how are you?” or “what’s new with you?” my “me box” dominates conversation. My “me box” truly kills joy and contentment. It produces spiritual depression rather than spiritual fruit. Instead of being a fragrant and pleasing aroma to God, I smell like the world which is perishing (2 Cor 2:15).

I absolutely know that the cure to my “me box” is to get outside of myself. I need to look around and help others. I know that I must decrease and our Triune God must increase (John 3:30). I also know that I need to change my clothes. Paul says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Col 3:12-15 ESV).

I cannot help but to view the clothing that Paul tells us to put on in Colossians 3 as undergarments that the Armor of God protects (Eph 6:10-18). I am so thankful that God through His Word and His people convicts me of my “me box.” I am thankful that God has preserved His Word so that His people know how to dress (character) and act (conduct) for His glory. As we give gifts and presents to our loved ones this Advent, may we give our “me boxes” to God in humility and surrender to Him.

Father God, thank You for this reader. Thank You Lord for convicting me of my “me box.” Lord, Your Word tells us that we can come boldly before Your throne and find grace, mercy and help when we need it most. Lord, help us to run to You rather than retreating to our “me boxes.” Lord, make us sensitive to when we start spending time in the “me box.” Lord, in regards to boxes, may we NEVER put You in a box. May we NEVER limit who You are and what You can and will do. Thank You Lord that YOU are God! Please prepare our hearts for Christmas. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Hi, December!

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Father God, thank You Lord for this new month. Lord, help us finish 2019 well. Lord, help us look over the past year and even in the midst of our hurt, pain, losses, frustrations, anger, misunderstandings, love, joy, peace, successes may we praise You. Lord, You have not called us to a life of ease, excess and comfort but to a life of faith, hope and love. Lord, help us to love and serve You and Your people well. Lord, prepare this reader for what You have in store for them this month and prepare this month for them! Thank You Lord for this reader!

Lord God, prepare us for Your Advent. Prepare our hearts for Christmas. Help us to do good to those who find the holidays to be a time of pain and loneliness. Lord, give us courage to invite someone who is alone to share Christmas with us. Help us to not buy into the hustle and busyness that this world loves to bombard us with. Thank You Lord for all that You have done, are doing, and will do. Thank You Jesus for understanding our humanity. Thank You Jesus that You came down from Heaven to be born of a Virgin and to dwell among sinful people to reconcile us to God. Triune God, may we spend more time meditating on what it means for You to dwell among us and thinking about You, instead of thinking about ourselves. Lord, prepare our hearts, mind and character for all that You have for us. Help us to have a greater appreciation that at that birth of Christ, this was the first time that people could truly see God and live. Lord, may we worship You with authentic love, joy, reverence and awe. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Slacktivism

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For the last four weeks my church has been doing a sermon series called “Slacktivism.” Truth be told, I thought this was a made up term. For those who are like me and never heard this before, the word “slacktivism” is defined as “The act of supporting a cause or desiring to see change but putting forth minimal effort, commitment or risk.” Slacktivism is also known as “armchair activism” and “clicktivism.”

The older I get the more I become a “slacktivist.” I am becoming overwhelmed by all the disorder, chaos and needs in this world. For me, when I hear about injustice, I become angry (not always righteous anger, I confess) and am compelled to do something. However, it does not take my (righteous) anger long to turn into despair because I do not know where to start. I do not know where to begin to “fix” the problem. So instead of doing something, I do nothing. I complain about the injustice, I am emotionally stirred to do something yet, my hand does not respond.

The Apostle Paul tells us to “not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Gal 6:9 ESV). We will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up doing good. This blessing is that we will grow closer to God. We will grow in character and favor as we live as God intends.

Three times Paul admonishes Titus to remind his congregants to “be ready for every good work”  (3:1,8,14). I do not know what slacktivism looks like in your life. All I know is that we are called to devote ourselves to good works (3:8) and to help those in need and to be productive and fruitful rather than unproductive (3:14).

I am humbled and challenged to be a genuine doer of the Word and not just a hearer or talker. It is easy for us to like, reblog or forward outrage or emotional stories; it is much harder when we actually step up and get involved.

May we fight the devil’s urge to keep us as slacktivists rather than activists!

Lord God, You know the needs around are great and growing everyday. Lord, regardless of what popular teaching states, this world is NOT getting better. You have not designed this world to be complete this side of heaven. Lord, give us strength to do good. Help us Lord to look around and see the need in our local communities. Help us look at where we can do good locally just as much as globally. Lord God, I do not know where this precious reader lives; however, I ask that You unite all Your people with a heart for doing good. Lord God, so often we want to do good, we just do not know how. Lord, strengthen and encourage those who are on the frontlines fighting sex trafficking, advocating for the falsely accused and wrongly imprisoned. Lord God, help all of us to care for widows and orphans in their distress. Lord, may each believer work to the level that You have given them. Lord, may we not use our fears and anxieties to justify our complacency. Thank You Lord for this precious reader! In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.