July 2021 Prayer

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Lord God, thank You for this new month. Lord God, You are revealing minds, hearts and actions and we, Your Bride are lacking. Lord God, the tide of scandals, apostasy and hypocrisy abound. Lord God, remind Your people that You hate plagiarism! Lord God, impress on us that while only You are the keeper of the faith, the keeper of Your Word, that we are to cite and quote Your Word and others work properly.

Lord God, instill in Your people a desire to bring You glory rather than division. Lord God, in this new month help us to live more for You and less for ourselves. Lord God, Satan’s lies are like the tide. Help us Lord to discern Satan’s lies so that we will not get caught in the under current of sin and drag others under with us.

Lord God, thank You that Your mercies are new each morning. May we begin each day this month thanking and praising You for Your grace and mercy. Lord God, may we come to love and serve You more this month. May we be a people who let their light shine before people because Jesus is the Light of the World.

Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, use this reader to bring You glory. Lord God, for the reader who does not know Christ, Lord may they come to know You while there is still time. Lord God, for our family members and loved ones who are uninterested in hearing the Gospel from us, stir in us a need to pray, sending others in their lives whom they may hear. Now more than ever Lord do we need to be about Your business rather than the world’s business.

Lord God, thank You again for this reader. Fill this reader with the peace of Your Presence. Lord God, manifest Your Fruit in this reader’s life more this month. In Jesus’s Awesome, Holy and Powerful name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:17-24

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Gimel

17  Deal bountifully with your servant, 

that I may live and keep your word. 

18  Open my eyes, that I may behold 

wondrous things out of your law. 

19  I am a sojourner on the earth; 

hide not your commandments from me! 

20  My soul is consumed with longing 

for your rules at all times. 

21  You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, 

who wander from your commandments. 

22  Take away from me scorn and contempt, 

for I have kept your testimonies. 

23  Even though princes sit plotting against me, 

your servant will meditate on your statutes. 

24  Your testimonies are my delight; 

they are my counselors (ESV). 

 In the last stanza the psalmist referred to himself as the Lord’s student and in the opening of this stanza he refers to himself as the Lord’s servant. The psalmist “does not accept God’s blessing and then proceed to do as he pleases, but he humbly takes his place before the Lord, his Master, whom he asks to deal [bountifully] with him. His reasonable response to the Lord’s goodness is obedience that keeps his word” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 406).

Verses 17-18 each begin with prayers in the form of imperatives followed by purpose clauses. The first imperative is deal bountifully. In the Psalter, bounty has the “connotation of deliverance” (A. Ross, Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 483). When the psalmist here prays that the Lord will deal bountifully with him it is so that he can live and keep the Lord’s Word (purpose clause).

The second prayer is for God to open his eyes. “In both the OT and the NT, sight is a frequent metaphor for understanding (see Gen 3:5; Eph 1:17–18). Apart from divine revelation and illumination, humans are blind, but the psalmist calls on the Lord to open his eyes so that he would be able to see the extraordinary things in his instruction” (Estes, p. 406).  No one will ever out know God’s law/instruction and it is important to remember “…not everyone who reads God’s word has the spiritual understanding to appropriate it correctly (see Matt. 6:22–23; 7:3–5; John 9:39–41)” (Ross, pp. 483-484).

The psalmist moves from calling himself servant to sojourner (v. 19). In the Ancient Near East (ANE) the poor, widow, orphan, sojourner/foreigner were “especially vulnerable and in need of protection” (Estes, p. 406). The psalmist knows that the Lord cares for the poor, widows, orphans and sojourners (Deut 10:18). “In this context, in which the psalmist lives among those who do not share his godly values and commitments, he needs direction from the Lord, so he asks the Lord to make his commands clear to him” (Estes, p. 407). 

In verse 20 the psalmist refers to his soul (nefesh). In Hebrew nefesh derives from the word for neck and it means life source, whole inner being. The psalmist here is saying that his life source, his entire inner being is consumed with loving God’s rules/just decrees. “It is evident that he passionately desires God’s direction for his life” (Estes, p. 407).

The psalmist compares his obedience (v. 22) to the disobedience of the insolent (v. 21). “Even though he has obeyed the Lord, he has received contempt from his wicked oppressors because living by God’s word is not a guarantee of a pain-free life in a sinful world. He is confident, however, that the Lord can thwart those who threaten him, and he entrusts his plight into God’s hands” (Estes, p. 407).

Even though princes (magistrates) plot against the psalmist, he as the Lord’s servant will meditate and delight in His Word because they are his counselors (vv. 23-24).

God’s Word gives comfort and guidance in times of difficulty and distress. Believers today need God’s wisdom and discernment now more than ever; testing and holding everything we read and hear up to the light of God’s Word. May our nefesh be completely consumed in desiring God and His Word.

Lord God, thank You that You reveal Yourself to us through Your Word. Thank You that Your Word brings life and not death for those who believe the Good News of Jesus Christ. Lord, for the reader who does not know You Lord, may they seek You today while there is still time. Lord God, may we follow the example of this psalmist desiring and meditating on Your Word to help us in these darkening and difficult times. Lord God, help us to be a people whose entire being is consumed with You and Your Word rather than being consumed with the things of this world. Lord God, thank You for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Psalm 119:9-16

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Beth

How can a young man keep his way pure? 

By guarding it according to your word. 

10  With my whole heart I seek you; 

let me not wander from your commandments! 

11  I have stored up your word in my heart, 

that I might not sin against you. 

12  Blessed are you, O Lord; 

teach me your statutes! 

13  With my lips I declare 

all the rules of your mouth. 

14  In the way of your testimonies I delight 

as much as in all riches. 

15  I will meditate on your precepts 

and fix my eyes on your ways. 

16  I will delight in your statutes; 

I will not forget your word (ESV).

In language similar to Wisdom Literature, “the ‘young man’ is the disciple, also known as ‘my son’ in Proverbs” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 862). This matter of purity “does not only concern a young man, but any concerned disciple” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-159) KEL, 2016, p. 476).

Purity was vital to Israel’s existence. The question of “how can a man keep his way pure?” encompasses all areas and activities of a person’s life. The answer is that he will keep his way pure by “guarding” the Lord’s Word (v 9). Guard here is the same as in Genesis 3:24 where the cherubim and flaming sword “guard the way to the tree of life” (emphasis mine). The psalmist is to guard his way with the same ferocity as the cherubim and flaming sword guard the way to the tree of life.

By asking how to “keep his way pure?” the psalmist acknowledges (as in previous verses) that he is prone to temptation and folly’s invitation (see Proverbs 9:13-18). It is worth mentioning the psalmist does not ask, “why does a young man need to keep his way pure?” The psalmist already knows why, “blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord” (Ps 119:1). The psalmist does not lament the effort that he has to give in actively keeping and guarding his way. Today, Christians often lament, whine and complain about the hardship and drudgery of obeying God and keeping pure (see Old Testament Israel for further thoughts).

It is only fitting that with this perspective the psalmist would seek the Lord with his whole being and store His word in his heart so as to not sin against Him (vv 10-11). “Because the word of God has penetrated to his [“heart”], the core of his life that includes his thinking, his feelings, and his choices (cf. v. 2), it keeps him from missing the mark of God’s holy standard expressed in his word” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 405).

The psalmist calls the Lord blessed and then cries out for the Lord to teach him His statutes (v 12). “The point of the verse is the desire to learn more of God’s law, but a teachable spirit begins with a proper regard for God—hence, the praise for the teacher” (Ross, p. 478). In verse 13 the psalmist declares his learning “publicly because he views himself as the channel of God’s instruction to others” (Estes, p. 405). The psalmist delights in the Lord’s Word “as much as in all riches” (v 14). In verses 15-16 the psalmist actively chooses to meditate on His precepts because he loves Him and wants to obey Him. Because the Lord’s ways lead to life, he will fix his eyes on them. By delighting in the Lord’s statutes, he will not forget His Word.

Lord God, help us to be a people who choose to keep their way pure. Help us to be agents and ambassadors of light and not debauchery and darkness. Lord God, help us to guard Your Word as You have guarded us from finding Eden and the Tree of Life. Lord help us to keep our way pure as we share Jesus with the lost. Lord God, help us to be a people who seek You with their whole being. Lord God, may our times of wandering from Your Way become less and may we become quicker at recognizing when we have strayed. Lord God, as society becomes more and more hostile to Your Word, may we learn Your Word, storing it in our hearts. Lord God, thank You that You will teach us Your Word when we are sincere in obeying it. Remind Your people Lord that You never teach us anything to keep it to ourselves. You teach us so that we may strengthen and encourage Your Body! Thank You Lord for this reader and help them to not forget Your Word. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Psalm 119:1-8

ESV
Aleph

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! 

2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, 

3 who also do no wrong, but walk in      his ways! 

4 You have commanded your precepts 
to be kept diligently. 

5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast 
in keeping your statutes! 

6 Then I shall not be put to shame, 
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. 

7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. 

8 I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me! 
CSB
א Aleph

1 How happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk according to the LORD’s instruction!

2 Happy are those who keep his decrees and seek him with all their heart.

3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. 

4 You have commanded that your precepts be diligently kept. 

5 If only my ways were committed to keeping your statutes!

6 Then I would not be ashamed when I think about all your commands. 

7 I will praise you with an upright heart when I learn your righteous judgments. 

8 I will keep your statutes; never             abandon me.

ʾašrê (אַשְׁרֵי) can be translated in English as either blessed or happy (vv 1-2) and I absolutely LOVE how this psalm opens “on a note exclaiming the happiness of those who walk according to the Lord’s instruction” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 402).

There are many similarities to the opening of Psalm 119 and the opening of the Book of Psalms itself, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps 1:1-2 ESV, emphasis mine). Jesus also begins each Beatitude (Matt 5:3-11) stating, “blessed/happy are…” (for more on this see Mourning; Meek; Hunger, Thirst and Psalm 1; Mercy; Pure in Heart; Peace: Maker or Breaker?; Persecution).

Many English versions translate torah in verse 1 as law; however, Estes is correct when he says, “the CSB properly construes it as “instruction,” because its nuance is teaching or guidance” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 402 see also Introduction to Psalm 119 for the different words used to refer to God’s Law). He also goes on to say, “The Lord instructs one how to lead a good and godly life. Self-direction does not lead to happiness, but the good life is ordered according to the way of the Lord” (pp. 402-403).

Walks and keeps are both participles meaning that God’s people are actively, continuously to walk in His instructions and to keep His testimonies/decrees. While seek is not a participle in the Hebrew, the imperfect aspect renders this an ongoing action. Ross states, “To seek the LORD with a whole heart means that they are completely occupied with the discernment of the LORD’s will revealed in his word. It is the people who keep God’s laws and diligently seek him who are blessed by him” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-150) vol 3 KEL, 2016, p. 469).

The wise and blameless person does not just do “what is right before God but also avoids what is wrong” (Estes, p. 403). The wise and blameless person is the one who seeks God with their whole heart so that they may discern the lies of this world; “testing the spirits” (1 John 4:1) against the Truth of God’s Word.

Bible believing Christians need wisdom and discernment now more than ever and we gain wisdom by seeking God, meditating on His Word and surrounding ourselves with other likeminded believers as we evangelize/share Jesus with the lost.

The Lord “has commanded [His] precepts to be kept diligently” (v 4). These are not suggestions nor opinions. “Love for God receives expression in doing the will of God” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 860) which is why the psalmist declares in his next verse, “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!” (v 5).

“The psalmist further prays that no “shame” or ultimate disgrace may overtake him (v. 6). “Shame” in OT usage connotes abandonment by the Lord and condemnation to utter ruin, as happen to the enemies of God (cf. vv. 31, 46, 80; 6:10; 25:2; 83:17). In this prayer the psalmist intimates that he lives with adversity while walking in the way of the Lord. His lament is like a sobbing, and he prays that the Lord will have mercy on his servant” (VanGemeren, p. 861). Estes adds, “In Psalm 119 both active disobedience and passive neglect of God’s word lead to shame (cf. vv. 31, 46, 80). The psalmist must contemplate with favor all that God has commanded (cf. v. 15), not selecting what he prefers but obeying completely what the Lord has required” (p. 403).

In verse 7 the psalmist will praise the Lord with an upright heart when he learns God’s rules/decrees because he knows “the Lord blesses the righteous” (Ross, p. 473). The psalmist is not doing this for show nor as works based salvation and protection, but out of a heart (mind, will and emotions) that knows that God is who He says He is and He does what He says He will do.

The psalmist ends this first section saying that he will keep God’s statues/decrees but because “he is prone to incomplete commitment to the Lord’s commands (cf. vv. 5–6), he calls on the Lord not to abandon him” (Estes, p. 404).

Father God, Lord how blessed and happy we are when we walk in a manner that is pleasing to You. Although we may suffer for it, we know that You are with us. Lord God, help us to be a people who actively seek You with our whole hearts (mind, will and emotions) learning Your Word, and desiring to walk and follow in Your ways so that we may obey Your instructions. Lord God, help us to be a people who seek to be blameless, pure and holy in a world that values debauchery and filth in every area of life. Lord God, help us to grow in wisdom and discernment. Help us to test everything we see and hear against Scripture. Lord God, may we be a people who say that we will praise You even in the midst of adversity and not knowing what Your next plan is for us. Lord God, may we be reminded that for those who are seeking to keep Your Word that they will not be put to shame. Lord God, Your Word brings life and we thank You for it. Lord God, thank You for this reader and for the opportunity to study Your Word together. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Introduction to Psalm 119

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It is well known that Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the Bible. In fact, it is twice as long as any other. Psalm 119 is also an acrostic in which each stanza begins with the successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. For example: verses 1-8 begin with aleph (the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet), vv 9-16 begin with Beth, vv 17-24 begin with Gimel etc. Most modern translations note this distinction with subheadings.

Since writing my post on the “Authority of Scripture” my yearly Bible plan has brought me to Psalm 119 and I cannot help but to reflect on the importance of loving, understanding, murmuring, obeying and applying the Word of God.

The Psalmist uses eight different Hebrew words for God’s Law:

  1. Law (tôrâh) is used 25 times. “The word “law” has both a broad and a narrow meaning. In the broad sense it refers to any “instruction” flowing from the revelation of God as the basis for life and action. In the narrow sense it denotes the Torah of Moses, whether the Pentateuch, the priestly law, or the Deuteronomic law” (VanGemeren, Psalms, REBC, 2008, p. 859).
  2. Word (dābār) occurs 24 times. “Any word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord is dābār, whether it pertains to the Decalogue (Dt 4:13), the law of Moses (Dt 4:2, 10), or the word revealed through the prophets. It is a most general designation for divine revelation, whether of expectation or promise” (p. 859).
  3. Decisions/judgements (mišpāṭîm) occurs 23 times and are God’s laws/decisions/judgments that are the foundation of Israel’s legal system.
  4. Statute(s)/Testimony (ʿēdût/ʿēdôt) occurs 23 times. Testimony is often related to covenant and the “observance of the “statutes” of the Lord signifies loyalty to the terms of the covenant made between the Lord and Israel” (p. 859).
  5. Command/s (miṣwâ/miṣwôt) occurs 22 times. “The word “command” is a frequent designation for anything that the Lord, the covenantal God, has ordered. It is a synonym of “law,” as well as of “decrees” and “laws”” (p. 859).
  6. Decrees (ḥuqqîm) occurs 21 times. God is the Sovereign Author of His decrees.
  7. Precepts (piqqûdîm) occurs 21 times and is only found in the Book of Psalms in which it is synonymous with covenant and related to command. The Psalmist is to respond to the Lord’s commanded precepts by guarding, longing for, meditating on, gaining understanding so as to never forsake, stray or forget them. “Essentially, the God who orders human beings to respond to his revelation expects an appropriate response of submission and loyalty to and love of his commands” (p. 860).
  8. Saying/promise (ʾimrâ) occurs 19 times and can refer to anything that God has spoken or promised.

Allen Ross notes that all eight synonyms occur in four stanzas (verses): 57–64; 73–80; 81–88 and 129–136. “The other stanzas use seven or six of the words, sometimes repeating one or two of them. So there is no apparent attempt at a perfect symmetry” (A Commentary on the Psalms (90-150) KEL, 2016, p. 460).

What I love about this psalm is how similar it is to both the Torah and to wisdom thought and language found in Proverbs. Psalm 119 is also a lament/complaint psalm in that the psalmist is crying out to God for His help against the powerful people who are lying, maligning, and afflicting him.

In a day in age where Christians are increasingly being mocked and scorned for their faith, I thought it would be a worthwhile to traverse this psalm together. As Ross says, “As a major resource for meditation this psalm is superb. It reveals how divine revelation is the basis for everything that the believer does; but it also shows how the Word of the LORD is applied in all the circumstances of life” (p. 462).

May we find comfort in the fact that “the psalmist knows firsthand the oppression of evil. He has been surrounded by wickedness, pursued by the arrogant and proud, and humbled by sorrow and disgrace; yet his refuge is in God. He constantly cries out to God, retreats into his shadow, and finds solace in his strength. This is a psalm not only of law but also of love, not only of statute but also of spiritual strength, not only of devotion to precept but also of loyalty to the way of the Lord. The beauty in this psalm resounds from the relationship of the psalmist and his God” (VanGemeren, p. 858).

Lord God, prepare us as we journey together through Psalm 119. Lord, may we find refuge and strength in You. May we drink deeply of Your Word, as we bring our laments and complaints to You, seeking Your knowledge and wisdom so that we may love, worship, know and obey You more. Lord God, thank You that Your Word is Truth. Help us to be holy, pure and blameless because You are Holy, Pure and Blameless. Lord God may we desire Your Word, may we carve out time to meditate on Your Word daily whether by reading or hearing Your Word. Lord God, thank You for Your love for us. Thank You Lord for this reader. Stir in this reader a desire to know You more. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Authority of Scripture

IMG_0154.jpg
Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

I was watching a video yesterday (15 June 2021) and the speaker made a good point that there was a time (at least in the States) while people wanted Jesus to return, they were hoping He would prolong His arrival so that they could get married, have children, graduate from whatever school, etc. People were comfortable living in this world. Since 2020, I do not hear people saying they want Jesus to prolong His return for their personal x,y and z.

In a world gone mad more and more people are seeking and asking, “What is truth?” (John 18:38 ESV), yet very few people are accepting the Authority and Truth of God’s Word. The Bible is being distorted, lambasted and outright rejected at record speed.

I have read time and time again that in the Last Days there will be a great falling away, that the Word of God will be traded for lies and that the apostate church and its false prophets will be considered true Christianity. Only now, I am starting to understand what that looks like in real time and place and it is horrifying.

From the time of Israel (Old Testament) until now (New Testament) the Lord has preserved His Word declaring that it will remain forever:

“The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa 4:7-8). 

Peter cites Isaiah saying, “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).

Jesus, God Himself says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt 24:35).

God is sovereign and He makes it clear, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa 55:10-11).

God will most certainly accomplish His Will and we can either be holy, faithful useful agents/servants of the Gospel or God will continue on with His plan without us by disciplining us, putting us on the shelf, etc.

Both the Old Testament and New Testament affirm that we are NOT to add or take away anything from God’s Word. God’s Word cannot mean, what it did not mean to the original author and audience. Context is indeed king! The Bible is being removed from its original context and this has serious consequences for individuals and for society.

Moses tells Israel in Deuteronomy, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you” (4:2) and “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it” (12:32).

While this refers to the prophecy in Revelation, John states, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (22:18-19). 

We alter God’s Word when we cherry-pick what we want to believe and apply. We alter God’s Word when we minimize the reality of hell and the wrath of God that John prophesies in Revelation. We alter God’s Word when we say, “love is love.” At no point in time has the Triune God ever changed His design for marriage. It has always been between one man and one woman. God has never ceased creating biological men and women in His image. We alter God’s Word when we interpret it based on our emotions, feelings and desires.

Peter states, “[N]o prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:20-21). Sin and a low view of Scripture is what is altering God’s Word today in terms of marriage, sex, gender etc.

Let us never forget that sin began with a question, “Did God actually say…?” (Gen 3:1). From the beginning, “the most important strategy in Satan’s war against God, His Christ, and us is to undermine our confidence in God’s word. He does this by means of worldly wisdom. The wisdom of the age will always conflict with Scripture” (G. Cook, Severe Compassion: The Gospel According to Nahum, 2016, p. 57).

What is absolutely amazing about the Fall of Man in Genesis 3 is that “God does not intervene to defend his word” (p. 58). God gave His Word directly to Adam, Adam shared it with Eve. God has given His Word to us in written form, in many different languages and it is up to God’s people to rightly defend, interpret and share the Word.

Scoffers of God’s Word have always existed and will continue to exist. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is still as relevant today as when Paul wrote it: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the [messenger] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

God asks us to choose an authority. It can either be God and His Word or it can be sinful man armed with Satan’s deceptive, destructive and damning wisdom. Make no mistake every person who has lived, is living and will live will be examined by Scripture, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb 4:12-13).

May God and His Word be our ultimate authority. I implore you to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where Satan is seeking to undermine your confidence in Scripture.

Lord God, thank You for the preservation of Your Word. Lord God, I pray that for those who are being swayed and deceived by false teachers and teachings that You will open their eyes and ears to You and to Your Truth. Lord God, strengthen Your people who hold tightly to Your Word. Lord God, impress on us to know Your Word as we guard our hearts and minds. Lord God, may we never take Your Word for granted. May we never become bored or tired of hearing Your Word read, taught and preached. Lord God, thank You that for those who have never heard the Good News of Jesus Christ that they can know You through nature/creation. Lord God, thank You for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Mid June 2021 Prayer

Lord, as this world becomes more and more political, help us to remember that we are citizens of Your Kingdom and that this world is not our home. Lord God, in light of this truth, help us to not retreat, abandon and run away from this world, but to see this world through a biblical lens.

Lord God, every second someone is dying without knowing Christ. Lord, help Your people to be salt and light, evangelists and disciplers. Lord God, give Your people wisdom and discernment. Lord, it is grievous the errors that have been allowed to grow in the Church. Lord God, the apostate church is the greatest threat to orthodox, sound Christianity. Lord God, for those of us who live in an area where we can still speak and read Your Word freely, may we do so in confidence.

Lord God, reading Your Word is not a luxury or blasé blasé, it is life, it is our standard. In a world that rejects any form of absolute truth and is twisting truth to satisfy emotions, Lord again, help us to be discerning. Help us to be wise. Help us to have courage.

Lord God, strengthen and comfort our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and tortured for their faith. Lord God, for areas that are increasing in hostility toward Christianity and harassing Christians, help us to not give up. Lord God, help us to not compromise and conform. Help us to want You more than comfort, safety and security.

Lord God, be with the millions of children all over the world who are growing up in a world of chaos and confusion. Lord God, watch over the children whether they are growing up in believing homes or not. Lord God, it is unconscionable and an affront to You what children are being taught. Lord God, be with believing parents, give them guidance and wisdom when it comes to parenting, education etc.

Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, thank You that You are still changing hearts. Lord God, help believers to be agents who draw people to yourself. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Fishing Thoughts

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn. Lake Conewingo. 5 June 2021.

I am sweltering out here on the water. Today is 90f and 40% humidity. This is our first time out since Raystown.

Nathan is doing exceedingly well so far (praise God always puts him in a good mood!). I have attempted to fish but my focus resides on not passing out from heat exhaust, getting sunburned nor getting bit by bugs.

My time out here today convicts me that in Heaven the one thing we won’t be doing is evangelizing. We will not share Jesus with the lost. I am reminded that Jude tells us to “have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire…” (1:22-23 ESV).

Hell is a literal physical place. Unbelievers will be cast out and will spend eternity in torment where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I don’t know where God has you today or what your outside temperature is like but may we be a people who fight the elements to save others while there is still time.

Lord God, evangelism and discipleship are messy. It is not easy nor is it for the faint of heart. Lord God, teach us to fish. Teach us to show people Jesus as well as talk about Jesus. Lord God, thank You for this reader and lead and guide them today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn. Lake Conewingo, 5 June 2021.

June 2021 Prayer

Photo by Boris Pavlikovsky on Pexels.com

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, 

nor are there any works like yours. 

All the nations you have made shall come 

and worship before you, O Lord, 

and shall glorify your name. 

10  For you are great and do wondrous things; 

you alone are God. 

11  Teach me your way, O Lord, 

that I may walk in your truth; 

unite my heart to fear your name. 

12  I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, 

and I will glorify your name forever. 

13  For great is your steadfast love toward me; 

you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol (Psalm 86:8-13 ESV).

Lord God, thank You for another new day, another new month and another opportunity to love and serve You. Lord God, thank You and praise You that there is no god but You! Lord God, the god of this world is bombarding and distracting us like never before. Lord God, as this world changes by the minute may we never forget that You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Lord God, comfort Your people with Your Presence and may Your Presence motivate Your people to tell others about Jesus while there is still time!

Lord God, only You know what nations will exist when You return. Thank You and praise You that people from every nation, tribe and language will be part of Your Kingdom. Lord God, may the reality that at Your appointed time every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of You Father God, never be far from our minds! May we obey You and bring Your glory in this new month! May Your people seek to live with one another peaceably focusing on the majors and not the minors of our faith.

Lord God, You are great and do wondrous things! Lord God, may we never cease to marvel at Your works whether that is in a sunrise, sunset or a baby’s laughter. Lord God, may we never forget that we are but dust, that we are the creature, not the Creator. Lord God, more and more I am in awe of You: One God, Three Persons. Praise You Holy Trinity that You do not ask us to figure You out but rather ask us to love You and others, trusting and obeying You.

Teach us Your ways and give us a heart to want to obey You. Lord God, impress on us this month Lord that in biblical thought the heart encompasses the mind, will/volition and emotions, the total being of a person. Lord God, help us to think right in this new month, help us to discern our emotions this month and may this motivate our hands to do right by You in this month. Lord God, good theology always moves from head, to heart, to hand. May we unite our hearts to Your heart in this new month so that when persecution comes, we will know how to stand firm in You. Lord God, may we be prepared to glorify You and praise Your Name in the hard, dark and tough times.

Lord God, may we learn more about Your hesed this month, Your covenant faithfulness. Lord God, You are faithful to Your covenant, may we be faithful to You. Lord God, as You know our society wants us to pledge loyalty to various causes, may Your people be loyal to You because of Your covenant faithfulness, because of Your steadfast love, because of Your Character and Work. Lord God, may evangelism and discipleship be the cause in which we pledge our love and allegiance.

Lord God, thank You for the testimony of each of the believers reading this. Thank You for all the ways that You have delivered our souls form the depths of Sheol. Lord God, for the reader who does not know Christ, may they seek You while there is still time. Not just so that they may escape the fire and judgement of hell, but so that they will be able to serve You now, understanding their purpose in a world gone mad.

Lord God, thank You for this reader. Thank You for all the ways that You will use this reader this month if they will allow You. Lord God, make us willing and available servants to be Your Hands and Feet this month. Thank You Jesus that the time of Your arrival is drawing ever closer. May we be reminded that it is a fearful thing to fall into the Hands of the Living God. Thank You for Your gift of salvation by grace through faith. May we hear, read and mediate on Your Word more this month, as it is guaranteed to transform us for the better if we will allow it. Lord God, open our hearts to You today. Praise You for this reader! In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Reflections from my time at Raystown Lake

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

When we first boarded our houseboat on Monday May 24, 2021 I was really excited. It did not take long for me to become agitated with the houseboat itself.

I must confess in certain ways I can be Princess Mandy. I have a standard of clean which I expect of myself and others. This boat did not meet that standard or any level of tolerance. I chose to rent this boat because of its top deck; however, I do not think they have ever cleaned my much wanted deck!

Nathan and I have been married for 3.5 years and this was our first vacation. I was either in Seminary or we were moving so this is the first time we have done something like this. Nathan in his love and kindness for me knew that I was unhappy and he started cleaning while I was sulking.

Pride is a vicious beast! I wanted a beautiful boat to see God’s Beautiful Creation and I am SO thankful that God humbled me to see His Beauty, to see Nathan’s love and to get over myself so that I could see God and to see Nathan as God wants me to see Nathan.

Nathan, PQ and I experienced many adventures on this trip. From docking/anchoring the boat to trees, to fog, to a severe thunderstorm with 70 mph winds.

We knew there would be storms on Wednesday May 26, 2021 we just didn’t know how severe. When we saw the clouds forming we tied the boat down on an island that we thought was safe. Well, the first big gust of wind ripped the metal cleat right off the boat. Nathan had to quick jump off and untie the other side and we were just spinning and spinning. I remembered seeing that the upstairs deck furniture was unstacked and untied down. I quick went up to stack it and Nathan started screaming at me to get down. I had never seen Nathan so shaken and upset, he said I could have really been hurt and if the stuff blows over oh well, your life is worth more than some deck furniture. Nathan also said he was concerned the wind was going to turn the boat on its side.

I had been joking earlier in the day maybe we have our own Jesus calms the sea/storm/winds/waves moment; however, I never anticipated it would look like that!

What we didn’t know until returning the boat yesterday May 28, 2021 was that when Nathan went to the marina to buy live bait on Wednesday (May 26) before the storm. The marina requires houseboats to be docked by their employees. Well, the employee who worked for the marina when docking the boat, hitting the side of the boat against the dock, putting a hole in the side of the boat that Nathan and I never saw. After it was pointed out to Nathan yesterday he said had he known he wouldn’t have taken the boat back out again. Thank God the marina has their employees dock the boat so this wasn’t on Nathan and I and even greater thank God for this hole not being an issue in the storm!!!!!

We fished for many, many hours each day. In 4 days we caught zero fish. From what we could tell no one else was really catching fish either. Tuesday May 25, 2021 was a full moon and that may have had an effect on the fish. Fishing is a great analogy for the Christian life. Jesus tells Peter, Andrew, James and John that He will teach them how to fish for people. The call is to discipleship, but fishing is also an appropriate analogy of evangelism as well. Both take time and diligence. As Nathan says, “if you don’t have a line [or net] in the water you’re guaranteed to not catch any fish.” I have a greater appreciation for seeking out where the fish are!

I know that every blogger, podcaster, vlogger says they have “the best followers.” Precious readers, I am SO thankful for your love and support and prayers on this journey. I do NOT view any of y’all as followers but friends who I am doing and sharing life with.

I know that most of my blogs lately have been more biblical theology based than personal life application. This adventure has restored to me a sense of being personal and vulnerable with y’all as well as to share what I am learning from the Lord and His Word. Again, I cannot thank y’all enough for your love, support and encouragement.

The Lord has restored my love for taking pictures of His creation and I want to share more of what I see when I am out and about with y’all.

Maybe dear reader you have wanted to go on your own adventure but don’t know where to go or can’t at this moment. I would love to encourage you to read or listen to an audio Bible version of your choosing on Acts. The Book of Acts is an epic adventure. There’s the ascension of Jesus, the start of the church, conversions, missionary journeys, snakes, shipwrecks, imprisonments, stoning etc.

Life in Christ is an adventure. There are NO days off in the Christian life. While this post 2020 covid world may seem more like a nightmare than an adventure; life in Christ is life to the fullest if we are willing to follow Him. This life is not easy. But it wasn’t easy for any of the real life people in Acts either.

I am thankful that God continues to remove me from my comfort zone. It is not pleasant at first but it always leads me to growing closer to Him and to others in the process. I am not the same person today, May 29, 2021 that I was on Monday May 24. Praise God for His Work in our lives and meeting us right where we are. May you dear reader, grow closer to our Savior today!

Lord God, thank You for the gifts of adventure, wonder, awe, humility and transparency. Lord God, help us to not fear what is next but to cling to You, holding to You, journeying with You and with others. Lord God, thank You for the heart that You have given these readers for me and I pray they know that my heart is with them. Lord God, I do not know what favor and blessing looks like for this reader but I ask that You will bless them for the love and support they have shown me. Lord God, thank You that when we actively seek You that You will transform us more in Your Image. May Your people seek to glorify You! In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Here are more pictures if you’re interested (all photos taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn).