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.

Middle of May 2021 Prayer

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As is well known I write a prayer at the beginning of each month; however, I am being led to write a mid-month prayer. Hoping y’all will join me.

Lord God, thank You that You are Sovereign and Holy. Lord God, lead us and guide us as so much is occurring already halfway through this month. Lord God make Your presence known in South East Asia. Lord God, You know there are Christian children in a certain country that are in great danger and we ask Lord that You will protect these children. Lord God, I absolutely cannot imagine and I do not even know how to pray. In all this, I praise You Jesus that You are interceding on Your people’s behalf. You are our Great High Priest. Holy Spirit thank You that You are interceding for us with groanings too deep for words, making our prayers align with Your Will (Rom 8:26-27).

Lord God, be with the believers in the Tigray region in Ethiopia who are opening their homes to Eritrean Christian refugees. Lord God, while these brothers and sisters do not have much, they are willing to share what they have.

Lord God, protect Your people in Nigeria. Over 2000 Christians have been abducted so far this year with another 1470 murdered by jihadists. Lord God, I pray that You will strengthen Your people in Nigeria. Lord God, thank You and praise You that when You see fit You will hold these people accountable for what they have done. Lord, open the eyes of jihadis to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Lord God, the peace, tolerance, safety and security the world is offering is a lie. May Your people continue to pray, holding firm to their faith in Christ.

Lord God, as we pray for Jerusalem may we never forget to pray for the Arab Christians and Messianic Jews. So often when we hear about the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts we forget about the Christians on both sides who are caught in the crosshairs of this fighting. Lord God, You did not come to bring peace but a sword. Lord God, stir hearts in the Middle East for Jesus. May we be reminded there will never be peace in the Land until You come and set up Your Kingdom.

Lord God, regardless of what a person’s views are on these conflicts around the world may we NEVER forget that You have chosen/called/elected individuals for salvation from every tribe, nation and tongue. Lord God, there is a lie being told to people today that You are colorblind. Lord God, I ask that Your people learn to see and embrace color biblically. Whether it’s the flowers in the field, the turquoise of the sea or the color of a person’s skin. Lord God, You have created different skin colors. You see skin color NOT to disparage people but because You are a color creating God. You have called color good! Your Tabernacle and Temple were lavish in color, so are our bodies which are the temple of the Holy Spirit. For Your people to dislike or elevate one color above another is antichrist.

Lord God, Philip Ryken says, “The law always reveals the character of the lawgiver” (Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory,2005, p. 525) how true this is. Lord God, as the laws in the West become less and less Christ-centered may we continue to seek You and Your Kingdom. Lord God, prepare Your people in the West for the increase of secular humanist laws that will go against You and put us at odds with the masses.

Lord God, You tell us in the last days that persecution will increase. Lord God, help us to remember our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and in chains for their faith regardless of where we live. Lord God, authoritarianism is growing not just in Turkey but all over the world. For those who think persecution will not happen to them, Lord wake them up by any means necessary.

Lord God, You also tell us that in the last days that knowledge will increase. We have access to more knowledge than ever before, as such help Your people to be wise and discerning. Lord God, may we continue to read and hold firm to the Truth that Your Word is infallible, inerrant and the final authority for our lives. In Jesus’s Holy and Mighty Name I pray. Amen.

FACING EAST

Sunrise from 7 January 2019; photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

While I love watching and driving around following the setting sun (I have thousands of pictures to prove it!), there is NOTHING like watching the sun rise. I love to greet the Lord’s dawn with my song (Ps 57:8; 108:2). I will literally seek out places whether inside my house or someone else’s house, in a hotel, or somewhere out in nature where I can read my Bible and journal, soaking up the Son’s rays. Direct morning sunlight fills my soul like nothing else.

The other morning while basking in the Lord’s sunrise, I started reading through Numbers. While I have read the early chapters of Numbers numerous times, I have come to appreciate the beauty, wonder and order of the Lord even more!

Chart by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Forgive me folks, I am NOT an artist in the least bit so this is my humble offering of a chart of Israel’s Wilderness Camp given in Numbers 1-3.

I have long known that Israel’s directional orientation faced east with her back being toward the sea and the setting of the sun. I never gave any thought as to what this looked like.

Although Judah was the fourth son of Leah, he was given pride of place as firstborn because of the sins of Reuben, Simeon and Levi. Judah was the head of the eastern triad and whenever Israel moved on from camp or went out to battle they led the way. Reuben led the southward triad and was given secondary honor. After the triad of Reuben moved out, “Then the tent of meeting shall set out, with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camps; as they camp, so shall they set out, each in position, standard by standard” (Num 2:17 ESV). Ephraim, fulfilled Jacob’s blessing (Gen 48:5-20) and was the leader of the westward triad; the first to follow behind the Tabernacle when they moved from camp. The northward triad and the last to move were led by Dan.

Whether Israel was on the move or stationary in camp, the Tabernacle (or Tent of Meeting) was always in the center. I love what Allen says, “On the line of march the triads of Judah and Reuben would lead the community; next would come the tabernacle with the attendant protective hedge of Levites; then would come the triads of Ephraim and Dan. In this way there was not only the sense of the indwelling presence of God in the midst of the people, there was also the sense that the people in their families and tribes were protecting before and behind the shrine of his presence” (Numbers, REBC, 2012, p. 98).

It is truly significant that Moses no longer had to go outside of camp to meet with Yahweh (Ex 33:7-11). “There is a sense here of the progressive manifestation of the presence of God in the midst of the people. First he was on the mountain of Sinai; then he came to the tent outside the camp; then he indwelt the tent in the midst of the camp. One day he would reveal himself through the incarnation in the midst of his people (Jn 1:1–18); and, on a day still to come, there will be an even greater realization of the presence of the person of God dwelling in the midst of his people in the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:1–4). The story of the Bible is largely the story of the progressive revelation of God among his people…and the progressive preparation of a people to be fit to live in his presence” (R. Allen, p. 98). Numbers truly is a book about worshipping Yahweh!

I am a person who CRAVES order, structure, consistency and stability. In a world that is growing more tense, chaotic, unstable and hostile by the day, reading and meditating on these chapters have calmed my soul. “There is a sense in which the orderliness of these early chapters of Numbers is akin to the orderliness of Genesis 1. As God has created the heavens and the earth and all that fills them with order, beauty, purpose, and wonder, so he constituted his people with order, beauty, purpose, and wonder. And as the heavens and earth may “praise” God in their responses to his commands (Ps 147:13–18), so the peoples of God may praise him in their responses to his commands (Ps 147:19–20). Indeed, his people must praise him” (Allen, p. 93).

God cares about the order and manner in which He receives worship. In Numbers 3, Moses retells the story of Nadab and Abihu. The order of the tribe of Levi’s tents around the Tabernacle in 3:21-38 are given from least favored to favored (opposite of non-levitical tribes, favored to least).

Gershon to the west, away from the entrance of the tabernacle was responsible for the Tabernacle’s structure: tent, coverings, curtains and ropes. Kohath to the south was the largest clan and cared for: furnishings of tabernacle, ark, table, lamps, altars. Merari to the north cared for: frames, posts, bases, crossbars and supplementary materials. The Priests (Moses, Aaron and sons/descendants) had the honored position of being on the east, protecting the entrance of the Tabernacle.

“Moses and Aaron were not placed in the posture of arrogance on the eastern side of the tabernacle; they were placed there for a representational ministry (“on behalf of the Israelites”). Theirs was an exclusive work but beneficent to the community. Service in the tabernacle was an act of mercy, a means for the people to come before God. Yet it was marked by severity—all had to be done in God’s way! God receives the worship of his people only because of his mercy. The sovereignty of God was evident in his limitations on the means to approach him. The “stranger” could be a better man or woman, more pious and devout than a given descendant of Aaron; yet he or she would still face death in the case of actions based on presumption. The warning of death to the “stranger” is found four times in the book (see 1:51; 3:10, 38; 18:7)” (Allen, p. 111).

Near the end of Numbers 3 we read, “male Levites over the age of one month were to be regarded by Yahweh as “belonging to him” as the payment of redemption for the firstborn of the nation. The firstborn of animals were to be sacrificed to the Lord, but God never countenanced the sacrifice of persons on his altars. Hence a substitution was made. A male Levite was regarded as a substitution for the firstborn member of a family in a non-Levitical tribe. Notice that the firstborn of the livestock were also included in the substitutionary arrangement: Levite for firstborn of Israel, and Levite’s livestock for firstborn livestock of Israel” (Allen, p. 113).

The structure, detail and order given to Israel’s wilderness camp is so humbling and beautiful to me. For Christians today, we know that Jesus took on flesh and dwelt among sinful man. When we overlook these beginning chapters of Numbers we can miss seeing how Jesus is our sacrificial and substitutionary Lamb who redeemed us by His shed blood on the cross. Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who is already victorious but will come back to fight His enemies at the end of the age. Jesus is our great High Priest who is making intercessions on our behalf before the Father.

While our lives may be marked by disorder and dysfunction, we know that God is not chaotic nor disorganized. As God strategically and purposefully ordered Israel’s camp, setting them apart from the other nations, so too is God strategically and purposefully ordering our camp and steps. May we take comfort that the Lord Jesus Christ is in our midst and that the Holy Spirit will help us to live in a manner where we bring glory to God the Father.

Lord God, You absolutely amaze me. I am humbled by who You are and what You do. Lord God, in a world that is full of chaos and disorder I am thankful that You are stable, consistent, organized and purposeful. Lord God, Your presence and redemption are themes that run from Genesis to Revelation. Lord God, open this reader’s mind, heart, and hands to love and trust You and Your Word more. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Work

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Go to the ant, O sluggard; 

consider her ways, and be wise. 

Without having any chief, 

officer, or ruler, 

she prepares her bread in summer 

and gathers her food in harvest. 

How long will you lie there, O sluggard? 

When will you arise from your sleep? 

A little sleep, a little slumber, 

a little folding of the hands to rest, 

and poverty will come upon you like a robber,

and want like an armed man (Prov 6:6-11 ESV). 

Pastor Jimmy’s youth teaching on Saturday was from Proverbs and was on the topic of work. The three points were: 1. Work hard; 2. Work honestly; 3. Work to honor God. And his reflection/discussion question were: “which of these areas are your strength and which needs work? And what can you do to start working on the area that needs work?” Even though this lesson was for youth, I am convicted by it!

I would definitely say that my weakness is CONSISTENTLY working hard to honor God. Jimmy asked the question, “what keeps you from working hard?” Oh man, I could write a book on this! Regardless of the task I have horrific perfectionistic tendencies. Fear of embarrassment, failure and wanting things to be “just so” runs deep in my life. I can be fearful and anxious that I will run out of energy or that I will get interrupted. The worst and I mean the WORST is when I start getting frustrated because I do not know how to do something or I do not know what to do or feel I am going to fail/let someone down. My response is that I get really, really quick tempered and edgy. Then comes the abyss of self-defeating questions like: “what purpose does this serve?” or “does it even matter?” or “what value is this to anyone?”

I know, that I know, that I know that God’s purpose for His people is to bring Him glory. Yet, I can focus on everything else but that. I am thankful that God calls His people to rest in Him. We are not to work so hard that we burn out; however, we are not to be sluggish, lazy and procrastinating either (Prov 10:4-5).

While I am not a big fan of ants [Lancaster County, PA is home to a variety of ants and I don’t know anyone in this town who has not had to deal with ants in their place at some point in time] Jimmy made a good point, “ants don’t need micromanagers, they are always patrolling [and] ants learn how to go around obstacles.” When I am in one of my freakout modes, Nathan’s form of encouragement is telling me to “adapt and overcome.” Instead of being highly annoyed by this “encouragment” I am going to focus on being like an ant!

Regardless of what our work is, integrity and just scales matter. God cares about the character of the worker just as much as He cares about how the work is performed. It never ceases to amaze me how much God cares about our character AND conduct. If there is one thing that I hope will be said about me someday is that I worked honestly. That I lived an honest, transparent and authentic life. I do NOT ever want anyone to read this blog and think that I have it all together. I am a sinner saved by grace and each day I realize more and more how amazing and sweet His grace is.

Lord God, I do not know what work looks like in the life of this reader, but I do know that You have work for them regardless of physical, mental and emotional abilities. Lord God, as this world spirals more and more out of control may Your people seek to honor You even more with their work. You created us to bring You glory and the devil has wanted Your glory since his fall. Lord God, help our minds, hearts and hands give glory, honor and praise to You for all that You have done for us. Amen.

Old Testament Israel

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In reading Severe Compassion: The Gospel According to Nahum I absolutely agree with what Gregory Cook said. “Christians often make a grave error in their interpretation of Old Testament history. When we read about Israel’s sins, we tend to judge Israel harshly. We are right to see these sins as grievous, because the Bible makes this plain. What we in the church have not rightly considered is that we have sinned even more grievously” (p. 24).

I often hear people say, “Israel got what they deserved.” This is true. Israel repeatedly broke covenant with Yahweh and suffered the consequences. While Christ has paid believers’s sin debt on the Cross, our sin no less grieves God. Moses and the Prophets were Israel’s intercessor, while believers today have Jesus, their Great High Priest making intercession on their behalf.

“Israel had only the promise of a Messiah, we have a glorious gospel. We need to repent of how we have viewed the Israelites. They sinned greatly against God, but our sin is much greater” (Cook, p. 25). When we love the world more than Christ, we are much worse than Israel. Israel did not have the completed, inspired, infallible Word, nor did they have Jesus as their Mediator.

“Is there anything in your life that excites your passion more than Jesus? If so, you need to consider that the sins listed in the Old Testament are specks, while yours is a log” (p. 25). I am SO thankful that Jesus satisfied God’s wrath on the Cross! God cannot and will not excuse sin. “Every sin must be paid for” (p. 25); however, through Christ’s work and belief in Him “grace is freely extended to the worst of sinners” (p. 26). When we confess our sins, Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9).

A warning for all of us today is that “[t]he Bible does not allow us to use grace as a license for sin. We have no right to judge the sins of Old Testament Israel and then to presume upon God’s grace to cover our own love for the gods of our culture” (p. 26).

I do not ever want to take advantage of the grace of God extend in Christ Jesus our Lord. I do not want the Lord to discipline/rebuke me for harshly judging the sins of others while refusing to look at the sins in my own life.

When we are quick to judge Old Testament Israel’s sins, we need to be as equally quick to judge our own sins. Now more than ever we need to cling to our Savior and not to this world. We need to remember: “When we enter into covenant with God, receive the blessings of that covenant and then worship what the world worships, we sin deeply. Israel committed this sin in Exodus 32. Israel again committed this sin in Numbers 13. Judah committed this sin when it chose Assyrian protection instead of faithfulness to God. We commit this same sin when we find God boring and the world fascinating” (p. 18 see 1 John 2:15-16).

May we strip off every sin that trips us up, so that we may run with endurance the race that we have been given with our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:1-2).

Father God, may we NEVER become bored with You. May we NEVER forget that You hate sin. May we NEVER get tired of looking to You. Lord God, may we not gloss over our sin. Lord God, may we be reminded that as You left a remnant in Israel, so You leave a remnant of believers in each generation. Lord God, may we judge/hold others accountable with pure hearts and motives. Lord, may we seek to grow in holiness and Christlikeness. May we take comfort in Your provision and care for Israel. Lord God, I know there are MANY debates and theological differences to national, political Israel today. In all things Lord may we be reminded that You are seeking and saving men, women and children from every tribe, nation and tongue. Lord God, may Your Spirit stir mouths and hearts to confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior while there is still time. Thank You Lord for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

God’s Sovereignty

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For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 

a time to be born, and a time to die; 

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 

a time to kill, and a time to heal; 

a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

a time to weep, and a time to laugh; 

a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; 

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

a time to seek, and a time to lose; 

a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 

a time to tear, and a time to sew; 

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 

a time to love, and a time to hate; 

a time for war, and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV). 

Are you singing this in your head?! I know I did! I am SO glad my Bible reading plan had me read Ecclesiastes 3 today!

עֵ֥ת (time) is repeated 29 times in verses 1:8. Estes states, “The principle that lies behind the list of illustrations in 3:2–8 is that God has a plan that embraces all humans and all their actions at all times” (Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms, 2005, p. 309).

No book of the Bible is more applicable to our world today than Ecclesiastes. God’s sovereignty is being missed in the midst of all the chaos that is occurring in our world. To this point Estes states, “…despite appearances, God’s activity in the world is not arbitrary or haphazard; closer inspection reveals that there is divine order within the apparent chaos of life under the sun” (p. 309).

God’s plan encompasses the most mundane areas and activities of our lives; as well as the whole gamut of human emotions. Believers need to be confident that all of life is under God’s Sovereign and Providential control, not our human control. Our response is to obey God, trusting that He will equip us and see us through.

When I take my eyes off of God and His Sovereignty, I can have a very negative outlook. When Solomon (author) says, “everything is vanity/meaningless” (Ecc 1:2) and there is “nothing under the sun” (Ecc 1:9) he is saying that without God “everything is vanity/meaningless” with “nothing new under the sun.”

Now more than ever do we need to remind ourselves that God is in control. That He knows individuals and He knows and rules over this world. We know that God’s Word brings life and yet we consistently seem to be feeding ourselves with the things of this world. I am NOT suggesting that we should not be informed! God does not call us to bury our heads in the sand! He calls us to be in this world but not of this world.

May we take time today and this weekend to mediate on how God’s Presence has worked in the mundane times of our lives. May we start reading autobiographies or biographies of godly saints who went before us and how they endured persecution or stood for Jesus when it was costly.

Only in Jesus do we find value and meaning. Only in Jesus do we have peace and hope in a world gone mad. Only in Jesus do we know that regardless of what happens in this life, we will be with Him in the end. There is indeed a time and season for everything “under heaven” and the Lord Jesus Christ is in control of it all.

Father God, thank You that You are Sovereign over all. Thank You that there is NO moment this world has ever seen where You were not in control! Lord God, may we focus on You and the meaning and purpose You have for us. Lord God, may we preach Your Word to ourselves when we are discouraged and in despair and fearful. Now more than ever Lord is it essential for believers to be in community with other believers. What that looks like Lord for each person only You know, but may this reader know they have a friend in me! Lord God, thank You for all the times that You do not give us new insight but rather remind us of the insight You have already given us. Lord God, may we obey You. May we trust You walking by faith and not by sight or feeling. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Please Lord, fill this reader with the Peace of Your Presence. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Jealous and Avenging God

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The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies (Nahum 1:2 ESV).

In my last post Burning Coals believers are not to take vengeance, we are to leave this to God. Here in Nahum, three times he uses נֹקֵ֤ם to mean avenging or vengeance. These are qal, participles describing God’s character. Keeps is also a qal participle with the root word meaning watch over or guard.

God’s jealousy, vengeance and wrath cannot be separated from His love, mercy and grace. “If God did not care when our hearts are far from him (Isa 29:13) or when we adulterously give our hearts to the world (James 4:4), he would not love us…The notion of a love without jealousy and vengeance cannot survive a thorough biblical examination. It is a concept lacking passion or power. It is apathy masquerading as virtue” (G. Cook, Severe Compassion: The Gospel According to Nahum, 2016, p. 11).

The Lord has really put His jealousy, vengeance and wrath heavy on my heart lately. This world is changing rapidly and as believers we absolutely cannot love God and this world. It is impossible.

It grieves me at how easily I can be distracted and sidetracked from spending time with the Lord. I hate it! I genuinely believe that covid has and is revealing people’s hearts (my own included) in a way in which we have never seen before.

God hates idolatry and anything that competes for His people’s love, attention and affection! As this world becomes more hostile to Christians we have two choices: look like the world which brings death or look like Christ and live. While not in the same way, God will judge both the believer and nonbeliever.

I am grieved to think of my unsaved loved ones who will experience the vengeance and wrath of God. I really appreciate what Cook says, “The primary reason for missions and evangelism is not to save people from hell, as important as that is. The primary reason to abandon all to tell others about Christ is that he might receive glory” (p. 13).

May we seek ways to glorify our Triune God while there is still time.

Lord God, may we NEVER forget that You are a Jealous God, that You will take Vengeance and pour out Wrath on Your enemies. Lord God, may we not gloss over this or make light of this. Lord God, we are truly entertaining ourselves to death. May we remember our first love. May we remember You. Lord God, may we glorify You as that is the purpose that You have for us. Lord God, whenever Your people wonder what their purpose is or if they matter, remind us that it is to bring You glory! Lord God, thank You for this reader. May they carve out time to worship You today. May this reader seek You today while there is still time. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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.

April 2021 Prayer

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not” (Deut 8:2 ESV).

Father God, thank You for this new month. Lord God, as these days are rapidly getting darker and more evil, help us to remember the past. Help us to remember what You have done in Your Word, from delivering and leading Israel to the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Help us to remember and read Your Word this month!

Lord God, now more than ever may we share our testimonies of Your faithfulness in our lives. Help us to remember You. Help us to want to remember You. Help us this month to reflect on who You are, and who we were before You. Help us to remember the joy that lies ahead for those of us who are in Christ.

Lord God, prepare our hearts for Resurrection Sunday. Lord God, may You call more people to Yourself this Easter. May we reflect today how You washed Your disciples feet and gave them (and us) a new commandment to love one another. Help us to remember that for those who are in leadership positions, we cannot lead anyone unless we are first following Christ. Lord God, may we pause and reflect on Good Friday to remember the crucifixion of Christ. Lord God, cause us to reflect on Saturday the darkness that would be in the world if it were not for the Resurrection of Christ the next day! Lord God, thank You that we live on the Resurrection side of the cross and help us to remember those who lived faithfully before as is written in Hebrews 11.

Lord God, I do not know what any of us will face in this month, but what I do know is that You will strengthen Your people who are actively seeking to love and obey You. Thank You Lord that works based salvation is debunked in both the Old and New Testament. Thank You Lord that from Genesis to Revelation You teach us that we are saved by grace through faith. Lord God, may we respond to Your salvation with singing and obedience.

Lord, how taboo and repugnant obedience and submission are in today’s culture. Lord, may we be willing to be thought foolish and primitive for our singleminded love and devotion to Christ. Lord, in this new month, help us to live more focused on You than ever before.

Lord God, people everywhere, believers and unbelievers are restless. People want a return to normal. Lord help us to understand You are not calling us to normal or status quo. You are calling us to Yourself, to live for You, to imitate and look like You!

Lord God, thank You that like Israel, when we fail tests, You give us second chances. Lord God, may we be reminded of the one thing that we will NOT be doing in heaven: Evangelizing. Lord God, help us to share our faith more this month knowing there are no redos, no make ups for those who die without Christ. May we trust You to give us words to witness when You lead us to share but above and beyond, may our actions reflect Your heart. May our hands be quick to do Your Work. Not because we think our works will save us but because our works are a manifestation of the gift of salvation You have graciously given to us.

Lord God, thank You that no matter what happens, know matter where we are, You are with us. Strengthen Your people Lord. Help us to stand strong sharing our faith with the lost knowing that one day soon and very soon we will be with You in glory. Lord God, draw this reader closer to Yourself this month. In Jesus’s Awesome, Holy and Victorious Name I pray. Amen.

PQ’S 2!

Today is my Cavapoo’s second birthday! I have learned SO much about myself through PQ and the pandemic this past year. Through PQ, I have learned that God, Nathan and my parents are INCREDIBLY patient with me and that I often do not extend the same grace and mercy as they do to me.

I never understood what it meant that a dog was man’s best friend until having my own puppy. I also did not understand loyalty until having a puppy. I will confess I do tell PQ when I am exasperated with him for various things such as NOT listening that he is “an awful wretched beast!” (This “beast” weighs less than 9 lbs and is afraid of EVERYTHING!) I am sure that over my 39 years on God’s green earth my folks have thought the same thing of me at times!!!!

God has used PQ to teach me about interruptions and how to manage distractions (which is a test I am continually failing, arg!). I do take my responsibility to care for PQ seriously. I am thankful for all the people whom God has allowed in my life for me to care for, pray for and love!

Father God, thank You that Your care for us is perfect. You deal with us justly and fairly even when we are unjust and unfair. Lord God, thank You for the joy PQ brings to people, including me. Lord God, thank You that You are so incredibly patient. Lord, may we seek You and care for all that You have entrusted to us in a manner that pleases and glorifies You. Thank You Triune God for Your love for us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

I usually video PQ; however, here are some pictures of PQ over the past year if you are interested!