Daily Scripture Series – July 2nd

“The everlasting God will not grow tired or weary.” (Isaiah 40:28)

Paul, the apostle of Christ, wrote, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2Corinthians 12:10). Paul was speaking of spiritual strength, but he knew that God’s power was ‘made perfect in weakness”.

As the prophet Isaiah declared, “The Lord gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29).

What was the path to such strength? Abiding in Jesus. “Apart from me you can do mothing,” He said (John 15:5). As the weightlifter Paul Anderson once said “If the strongest man in the world can’t get through one day without the of Jesus Christ-where does that leave you?” To find out, we can release our dependence on our own illusive strength, asking God for His strong and prevailing help.

Daily Questions

  1. When you depend on God’s strength, and not your own, what’s the outcome?
  2. How does abiding in Jesus give you strength?

Daily Thoughts

All-powerful God, our life’s burdens feel heavy and overwhelming at times, but abiding in You gives us Your strength to carry on and overcome.”

Isaiah 40:28-31

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hop in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Bonus Information

The people of the Bible repeatedly found strength through their relationship with God. In Exodus, after the Israelites miraculously crossed the Red Sea, Moses sang, “The Lord is my strength and my defense”. When David’s men talked of stoning him, he “found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). Later, after God delivered him from Saul, David declared, “It is God who arms me with strength” (2 Samuel 22:33; Psalm 18:32). Likewise, Asaph proclaimed, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26). The prophet Isaiah declared, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense” (Isaiah 12:2). We too can find strength in God, who assures us, “Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.” (Isaiah 41:10).

 

 

Important Words About Jesus – #72

Word #72 – Shepherd

One who leads, protects, and provides for a flock of sheep

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)


I once heard a guy ask, “What if Jesus had come to earth this century instead of the firs, and to some big city in the West instead of the rural Middle East? Might He have described Himself differently? Would He perhaps have said, ‘I am the good CEO’ instead of ‘I am the good shepherd’?”

The questioner paused and said, “I only ask because I don’t know anybody who’s ever met a shepherd, much less seen one in action.”

It’s an intriguing question. If David were writing Psalm 23 today, would he say something like, “The Lord is my life coach” instead of “The Lord is my shepherd?”

Interesting speculations aside, David 3wrote when he wrote and Jesus came when He came. The biblical description is that the Lord is a shepherd. It might not be a familiar image, but it’s beautiful and comforting. Here’s why.

In Bible times, sheep were valuable, prized for their wool, milk, and meat. Therefore, a shepherd guided his flock diligently, watering and feeding them, carefully monitoring their health, and calming them whenever they got skittish. Shepherds protected their sheep from predators and other stressful situations. (Neither rams nor lambs are a match for a hungry wolf or a mountain lion, and they have a tendency to panic and become separated from the flock.)

And so the Bible likens God to a perfect shepherd (Psalm 80:1). And in this holy metaphor, God’s people are compared to sheep, we’re valuable, but also vulnerable.

My late friend Kelli knew a thing or two about shepherding. She cared for sheep for ten years. (In fact, she wrote a children’s book about all the insights she gained about God being our shepherd.)

Mostly she came to see that being a shepherd isn’t like caring for a goldfish. A good shepherd , she told me once in an email exchange, is “vigilant and responsive in all areas of sheep life.” He or she watches the weather, analyzes soil content, checks an maintains fences, procures the necessary supplies and equipment. A good shepherd closely monitors the condition of the whole flock and its social dynamics, down to the needs of each individual sheep.

Kelli said, “And when I see that hay stored in the barn for winter, I am reminded of Jesus’s faithful provision for us ahead of time, for every situation, including the ones I cannot yet see.”

What if it’s true? What if Jesus really is a good shepherd? What if He stands ready-today-to lead you to good places and to restore your soul and watch over it? What if He’s calling you right now?.

Guess what…it is true. He is a good shepherd. We are never more secure-or more satisfied-than when we are following right behind Him.

For God’s sake, and your own, listen for His voice.

Study Questions

  1. Have you ever seen a shepherd in action?
  2. What do you know about that occupation, and why is it an apt description of Jesus?

 

Daily Scripture Series – July 1st

I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall.” (Ezekiel 17:24)

Picture a mighty oak tree that’s small enough to fit on a kitchen table. That’s what a bonsai looks like-a beautiful ornamental tree that’s a miniature version of what you find wild in nature. There’s no genetic difference between a bonsai and its full-size counterpart. It’s simply that a shallow pot, pruning, and root trimming restrict growth, so the plant remains small.

While bonsai trees make for wonderful decorative plants, they also illustrate the power of control. It’s true that we can manipulate their growth as the trees respond to their environment, but God is ultimately the One who makes things grow.

God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel this way: “I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall.” God was foreshadowing future events when he would “uproot” the nation of Israel by allowing the Babylonians to invade. In the future, however, God would plant a new tree in Israel that would bear fruit, with “birds of every kind” finding shelter in the shade of its branches. God said that no matter how much upcoming events seemed out of control, He was still in charge.

The world tells us to try to control our circumstances by manipulation and through our own hard work. But true peace and thriving are found by relinquishing control to the only One who can make the trees grow.

Daily Questions

  1. How are you tempted to try to control your life?
  2. How does trusting in God’s control bring peace?

Daily Thoughts

We praise You, loving God, as the all-powerful King. Help us acknowledge your lordship in our lives.

Ezekiel 17:19-24

“‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, I will repay him for despising my oath and breaking my covenant. I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon and execute judgment on him there because he was unfaithful to me. All his choice troops will fall by the sword, and the survivors will be scattered to the winds. Then you will know that I the Lord has spoken.'”

“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the forest will know that  I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I will dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.'”

“‘I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.'”

Bonus Information

The powerful Babylonians had been attacking Judah and besieging Jerusalem. They’d already sent the royalty, aristocrats, and Jewish upper classes into exile, including the prophet Ezekiel, who was a priest. From Babylon, Ezekiel ministered to the Jews already in exile and to those still residing in Judah. He pleaded with his countryment to repent and turn to God and warned them that if they continued in their sinfulness, Jerusalem would be destroyed and the nation exiled. The Jews remained unrepentant, however, and only pretended to be interested in following God. Within seven years, Jerusalem was burned to the ground and the entire nation exiled as prophesied by Ezekiel.

 

Important Words About Jesus – #71

Word #71 – In

A preposition that serves to establish he relationship of one thing to another

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)


As words go, in is always going to be “in”-in style and useful in one month, but in a rut the next. You can be all in, in the wrong, or in over your head. You can be in debt, in the minority, or in a class by yourself.

Look around and you’ll see that everyone is “in” something; in a hurry, in demand, in debt, or in a daze.

then take few moments and consider what the Bible says about those who believe in Christ. (You might end up in awe.)

A couple things about the tiny word in…One, it’s a preposition (a part of speech that expresses the relationship of one thing to another). Two, it describes a literal or figurative environment.

something that’s in something else is enclosed or surrounded or located within that something else. If I said, for example, “There’s a ten carat diamond in a plastic pouch, in the toilet tank, in the restroom, in the Starbucks, in Estes Park, in Colorado,” that would tell you a lot. (For the record, there is no such diamond-at least the last time I checked. It couldn’t have been more than four carats, tops)

Think about in…your friend who is head over heels in love, swimming happily in a sea of exciting hormones and affection. Meanwhile your neighbor is in serious trouble and surrounded by hard things on every side. And those who are in Christ? They’re immersed in all that Jesus is and does.

More than two hundred times in the New Testament, we find the phrases “in Christ,” “in the Lord,” or “in him.” This is the language of trust, relationship, intimacy…and ultimate security.

When we read statements like “in him was life” (John 1:4) and “in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17)…or when Scripture announces blessings like “in him we have redemption through his blood” (Ephesians 1:7 or “thee is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), we begin to understand the wisdom of-and blessing in-obeying Jesus’s command to “remain in me” (John 15:4).

Are you familiar with the old Irish prayer known as St. Patrick’s Bresatplate? It’s a beautiful plea for protection. One section of it describes this reality of being in Christ (without actually using that phrase). It calls the one praying to remember:

  • Christ with me
  • Christ before me
  • Christ behind me
  • Christ in me
  • Christ beneath me
  • Christ above me
  • Christ on my right
  • Christ on my left

In other words, being surrounded in all ways by Him. Being “in Christ.”

Take a moment to thank God for such astonishing truth, and to ask Him to give you the faith to believe it more deeply.

Study Question

What does it mean to be “in” Christ?