Burning Coals

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If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you (Pr 25:21-22 ESV).

Love for one’s enemy is a biblical theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation. In this Proverb eat and drink are commands; enemy and heap are participles. It is a fact that we will deal with enemies in this life, but when we heed the command of giving our enemy bread to eat and water to drink we will continuously heap burning coals on the head of our enemy. The concept of heaping coal’s on an enemy’s head is one of pain and shame. The verb reward is related to shalom which is more than just peace, it is the state of being whole.

Paul confirms this when he says, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (Ro 12:20.) As in Proverbs 25:21-22 feed and drink are commands. But the motive of Paul is different: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord'” (Ro 12:19).

When we allow the Lord to deal with our enemies and we trust Him by loving our foes, He will take care of us. This is a mark of the true Christian. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Ro 12:21). Paul commands us to not be overcome by evil as well as to overcome evil with good. This is by no means easy! But we can rest assured that God is indeed a God who wages war on His enemies. While this is NOT popular today, it is true. From Genesis 3 to Revelation 20, there is a theology of holy war in the Bible.

Each day is one day closer to the return of Christ, as such believers need to start practicing what it looks like to love their enemies now. Hostility for Christians is growing by the day. As Philip Ryken says, “The law always reveals the character of the lawgiver” (P. Ryken, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory,2005, p. 525). As to the character of the lawgiver, “It must also be noted that Jesus’ instruction on the love of enemies (Matt 5:43–47) be read in light of this proverb and that the love of enemy is originally an Old Testament idea that was both enacted and commanded by Jesus” (Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiasties, Song of Songs, 1993, p 209). The more that we love our enemies and overcome evil with good the more we will be transformed into the image of Christ.

Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Proverbs, Matthew, Romans we are given commands to love God, be holy as God is holy, love our neighbor and to let the Lord take vengeance for His Name’s sake and for the sake of His people. Again, I do not claim this is easy; however, may we start obeying God and His commands. The more that we love our enemies, overcoming evil with good, the more we will be transformed into Christ’s image.

Lord God, it is not easy to love our enemies. I am thankful Lord that loving our enemy does not go hand and hand with reconciliation. Lord God, give us wisdom and discernment when it comes to handling difficult relationships and people. Lord God, help Your Church. Help us to be a people who live in Your strength and not our own. Lord God, may we NEVER forget that You are both a God of Wrath and a God of Love. May we NEVER forget that You are Just, Jealous and Compassionate. May we NEVER take Your mercy and grace for granted. Lord God, it is time for Your called out, set apart, holy people to live LESS like this world and MORE like citizens of Heaven. Lord Jesus, You know I get this wrong ALL the time, I am a sinner saved by grace and I praise You for the gift of salvation daily. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lead them and guide them as they navigate living in a world that is rapidly changing. Keep this reader connected to You Lord and in all things may they seek You more than the things of this world. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Happy New Year! January 2021 Prayer

Father God, thank You for this new year and month! Thank You for new beginnings, new mercies each and every day! Lord God, prepare us for 2021 and 2021 for us! Lord God, may we seek and desire to be prepared to live even more fully and authentically with and for You in 2021!

Lord God, thank You that You call us to keep moving forward! While we are to reflect and learn from the past, our past is not to be an anchor weighing us down but a propeller moving us on. Lord God, may we be reminded that we are living in the land of in between. Your Kingdom has come but it is not yet consummated. May we persevere and have even greater awareness that this world is not our home!

Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, for those who are in Christ may they start this new year with the reminder of who they are in Christ and their position in You as well. Lord, for the reader who does not know you, may today be the day of salvation. May today, the start of 2021 be the day where they come to trust Christ by grace through faith. Lord God, thank You that You are still saving sinners, sanctifying believers. May we thank and praise You that You are sovereign, controlling world events!

Thank You Jesus there is NO moment where you are not seated on the Throne! Thank You that NOTHING in 2021 will catch You off guard or surprise You! May we be optimistic about our walk with You this year regardless of our circumstances! May we be better prepared to handle change, challenge and hardship because of what we learned in 2020.

Lord God, may we trust You more this year rather than longing for comfort. I know this is an area where You are convicting me. I pray that I will grow in love, trust and obedience this year! Lord God, may we strip off our clothes of mourning and put on clothes celebrating You, manifesting Your fruit.

Lord God, may You strengthen this reader to hold fast to You this year. May this new year and new month be a time of renewal and refreshment. Lord God, may this time be one of excitement in what You will do knowing that You have been faithful in the past.

Lord God, thank You that Your Good News will continue to spread and thrive even when Satan, the world and the flesh does everything they can to stop and suppress it. May believers be reminded more this year that praise and prayer have power and both connect us to You and focus us on You and not our situations and circumstances.

Lord God, thank You for the gift of this reader! Lord, lead this reader by still waters today, where they will know that You love them and so do I! Thank You again Holy Trinity for the gift of new mercies and beginnings. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen and Amen.

Thanksgiving Day Prayer 2020

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Father God, thank You that NO matter where we live for those of us who are in Christ EVERYDAY is Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost!

Lord God, no matter where we live may we stop and give thanks to You today. Praise You Father that You command us to give thanks in all things NOT for all things.

Lord God, 2020 for most of us has been the hardest year ever. It is a fight to be thankful and to see Your Hand working in our lives. Lord God, this Thanksgiving, help us to reflect on all the ways You have sustained us. Lord God, for those of us who are unable to meet and gather with family and friends due to COVID restrictions, I ask that You will help our hearts to not be bitter, angry or frustrated. Lord God, thank You that You are still in the heart changing business, both for the unbeliever toward salvation and the believer toward sanctification, transforming us more and more into Your holy and glorious image!

Lord God, for those who suffering the loss of a loved one I ask that You bring them comfort. Lord God, for those who are alone feeling isolated and shut out I ask that You fill them with the peace of Your Presence.

Lord God, thank You for WordPress. Thank You for the community that You have given us on WordPress. Lord God, while we may not be able to raise our voices together proclaiming Christ is King in person, may we do so with boldness and authenticity online. Lord God, may we be an army of believers coming together to encourage, praise and thank You our Triune God.

Lord God, thank You for the gift of salvation. Prepare us to serve You in eternity by giving us practice in this life. Lord God, thank You that even though Your way is narrow and unpopular, it does indeed bring satisfaction, joy and life! Thank You that we may cast our cares on You. Thank You that Your burden is light compared to the anxiety, fear and death the world offers. Lord God, thank You for helping us to discern Your truth from all the lies. Thank You that You have preserved Your Word from generation to generation. And even if all the Bibles in the world were burned or destroyed, thank You Jesus that NOTHING will ever change the Good News of who You are and what You have done.

Lord God, thank You that You will not abandon us or leave us alone. Lord God, thank You that You desire for us to know You and to draw close to You. Thank You Jesus that You are only a thought a way! May we fix our minds on You each and every day.

The more that we practice thanking You each and every day, the more we will decrease and You will increase. Lord God, may we pursue goodness rather than greatness. May we share and encourage people in Christ while there is still time.

Lord God, thank You that You hear and answer prayer. Thank You that You are God and that we are not. Thank You that while we may not know the end of our own stories, we know the end to Yours, and You win! May we NOT lose sight that You are our Overcoming, Victorious and Soon Returning King. Thank You Jesus for Your presence in our lives and interceding on our behalf before the Father.

Lord God, thank You for this reader! Lord God, thank You and praise You that You are good and that Your love endures forever! In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 51

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      7       Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

      wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

            8       Let me hear joy and gladness;

      let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

            9       Hide your face from my sins,

      and blot out all my iniquities.

            10       Create in me a clean heart, O God,

      and renew a right spirit within me.

            11       Cast me not away from your presence,

      and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

            12       Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

      and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:7-12 ESV

This is David’s well-known psalm of repentance after Nathan confronted him with his sin of adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12).

In verse 10 the word create (bara) is the same word used in Genesis 1 where God created (bara) the heavens and the earth. “Strictly used, this word describes what only God can do; to create ex nihilo, out of nothing” (Boice, Psalms 42–106: An Expositional Commentary, 2005, p. 432). David is commanding God to create a new heart in him. “Derek Kidner writes, ‘With the word create he asks for nothing less than a miracle.’ He desires what only God can provide” (Boice, p. 432).

Robert Altar translates the first half of verse 11 as “Do not fling me from Your presence” stating “this Hebrew verb has a connotation of violent action for which the conventional translation of it as “cast” is too tame” (Altar The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary vol 3, 2019, p. 134). Fling/cast is a hiphil in Hebrew which is a verb of causation. David is asking God not to cause him to be violently or forcefully flung/cast away from His presence.

I cannot help but to think that David had King Saul in mind when he says in the next half of verse 11, “and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” I want to be clear, David is not worried about losing his salvation; however, he is worried about losing God’s Presence, anointing and fellowship like King Saul did in 1 Samuel 16. James Boice states, “Today most commentators recognize that David is not talking about eternal security or the fear of losing his salvation at all. He is only acknowledging that he is unable to live a holy life without God. Therefore, he needs the help and power of the Holy Spirit every single moment if he is to be able to overcome temptation and follow after godliness” (p. 434).

In verse 12 David commands God to restore (hiphil, imperative) to him the joy of His salvation. David knew that his fellowship with God had been broken and needed God to cleanse and restore him. David, again, did not lose his eternal salvation, but he did lose the joy of it. What’s true of David is the same with us, there is NO joy when we are living in sin. There is no peace when our relationship with God is broken.

“Many think that the way to joy or a good time is by sinning. They think that godliness is dull. Actually the opposite is the case. Sin brings sorrow. Righteousness brings rejoicing. Allowed to continue, sin will remove every good thing from our lives—joy, health, wealth, and at last even life itself. Only righteousness will restore them” (Boice, p. 434).

“The fact that the psalmist prays for so many things [in vv. 7–12] indicates how many things he knew he had lost when he plunged into sin” (Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 1969, pp. 405-406).

Father God, thank You that Your saved and redeemed people never need to fear losing their salvation. Thank You for the gift of salvation by grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Holy Trinity, for those who have lost the joy of their salvation due to sin or looking at current events, I ask that You will lift their minds, hearts and hands to You. Lord God, thank You that when we confess our sins to You that You will forgive us. Lord God, forgive us for the times when we put the things of this world before You. Lord God, restore to Your Body the joy of Your salvation, whether we are gathering together in person or online. Lord God, in these ever changing, challenging and tumultuous times, I ask that we will desire to dwell in Your Presence, growing in Your character and serving You with passion, authenticity and boldness until You call us home. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Identity

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Today, September 17, 2020 is my 39th birthday. I LOVE my birthday! The reason why I love my birthday is NOT to receive gifts or attention, but rather to take time to reflect and celebrate with others what God has done in our lives. I have always loved having people gather on my birthday NOT to celebrate me but as to thank and celebrate all those who love, encourage and care for me. Folks, I have made SO many mistakes in my life. Each year that God gives me is an opportunity to practice worshiping, loving and serving Him on earth before I am called home to worship, love and serve Him for eternity.

This year I am reminded now, more than ever that my identity is in Christ. As believers our identity is rooted in Galatians 2:20-21 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (ESV).

I want to encourage you my dear brothers and sisters that no matter where you are living, no matter your familial role or material status, no matter your political affiliation, your race, sex, gender, ethnicity, occupation you are a Christian before anything else. What I mean by this is that I am a Christian woman, Christian daughter, Christian wife, Christian blogger, Christian American, Christian Caucasian. Christian is the word that defines me, it is unchangeable.

If you live in a country where you are allowed to vote, as a Christian it is your civic duty to do so. It is not Christlike to put your political views before your identity in Christ nor is it Christlike to ruin Christian relationships because someone has differing views.

I have no idea what your identity looks like but I pray that you will take time to reflect that whether you are Christian Filipino, Christian Black, Christian male, Christian single that Christian is what comes first. May we be known for our love and not our divisions and infighting. As a people who have been “crucified with Christ” it is paramount that both our identity and unity be wrapped up in the One who gave His life for us.

For those who are longing for a new identity, or longing to be a part of something bigger than what this world has to offer, I pray that the Holy Spirit will turn your heart and mind toward Him.

Father God, thank You for sending Jesus. Thank You Jesus for sending the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, thank You for drawing us to Yourself and pointing us to Jesus. Jesus thank You that we may pray in Your Name knowing that our prayers and petitions are heard by our Heavenly Father. Teach us Lord to put You before any earthly title. Teach us how to manage the tension that our differences cause. Teach us to be Kingdom focused while also being god honoring citizens on earth. Thank You Father for this reader! Thank You for their love, care and encouragement. Lord God, may this reader know that Jesus loves them and so do I! Amen.

September 2020 Prayer

30 August 2020 Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve, Conestoga, PA; photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Lord God, I pray for the kids all over the world who are starting school; whether in person, online or hybrid. Lord God, give the parents of the students grace and mercy when it comes to the teachers learning how to teach at this time. Lord God, may teachers give themselves grace and mercy as well. Lord may parents and teachers NOT take their frustrations out on their children/students. Lord God, thank You for the advancements in technology that make distance learning possible, even when things do not work the way we would like. Lord God, I ask that You help the students focus and concentrate whether learning online or in person wearing a mask. Lord God, my heart breaks for the world that these young people are entering today.

Father God, I ask that You comfort Your people all over the world who are hurting. Lord God, I ask that You will come near the brokenhearted and fill them with the peace of Your Presence. Lord God, this life is NOT easy. The world that we knew last year at this time seems so far away. Lord, may we long for You more than we long for the past. May we fix our eyes on You and not look too far back, forward or sideways. Thank You Jesus that You are the Author and Perfecter of our faith!

Lord God, it does not take a genius to see that the United States is falling. Lord God, I ask that You will strengthen Your people all over the world. As the United States goes, so do many other countries. Lord God, when it comes to identity may we come to depend on You more and more and not depend on the world and its political systems. Lord God, may we live as good citizens in this world until You call us home.

Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Spirit transform Your people into Your image and remind Your people that ALL people are created in Your image. Lord God, help us to live holy and blameless lives. Thank You for this reader. May You stir in them a desire to grow closer to You in this new month. Thank You for the gift of time You have given this reader and myself. May we make the most of the time You have given us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Holy Saturday 2020

atmosphere blue cloud clouds
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I have always been sensitive that to the disciples and first followers of Jesus, the Saturday after Good Friday would have been to them, the darkest day in the history of the world (link for last year’s “Holy Saturday” post).

The Gospel writers do not give details about the disciples activity on the Sabbath. Köstenberger and Taylor state, “We can presume, however, based upon their actions Sunday evening-fearfully hiding together behind locked doors-that Saturday was spent in secretive fear and dread” (The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived, 2014).

While Jesus told the disciples what was going to happen, they did not understand. The disciples truly thought all was lost. For me, when the whirlwind of events starts to settle and I begin to reflect on the situation, circumstances, thinking that all is lost, I am prone to fear (in all its various forms), anger, anxiety and situational depression.

The church is not the building, it is the people who are the church. Even if every church building and Bible in the land were burned or destroyed, it would not destroy the Good News of Jesus Christ. Regardless of what fears, anxieties, insecurities you may be experiencing, dear reader, please know Easter is coming. Hold on!

Father God, thank You that in the midst of our deepest and darkest fears You are there. Calm the storm inside of us as we wait for You. Lord God, thank You that the grave does NOT contain You. Thank You that no matter what happens in this life or on this planet that NOTHING will change the fact that Christ died to save sinners. Lord God, help us to not waste what You want to do in us and through us in this time of coronavirus. Jesus, help us to hold on, knowing that You are coming soon. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.