Daily Scripture Series – October 4th

“This man…heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12:3-4)

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was one of the church’s most celebrated defenders of the faith. Yet just three months before his death, something caused him to leave unfinished his Summa Theologica, the massive legacy of his life’s work. While reflecting on the broken body and shed blood of his Savior, Aquinas claimed to see a vision that left him without words. He said, “I can write no more. I have seen things that make my writings seem like straw.”

Before Aquinas, Paul too had a vsion. In 2 Corinthians, he described the experience “(1)-whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things” (12:3-4).

Paul and Aquinas left us to reflect on an ocean of goodness that neither words nor reason can express. The implications of what Aquinas saw left him without hope of finishing his work in a way that would do justice to a God who sent His Son to be crucified for us. By contrast, Paul continued to write, but he did so in the awareness of what he couldn’t express or finish in his own strength.

In all the troubles Paul encountered in service to Christ, he could look back and see, in his weakness, a grace and goodness beyond words and wonder.

Daily Questions

  1. What problems have you had that seemed like a curse?
  2. How have you seen God show Himself good to you in ways you can’t describe?

Daily Thoughts

Father in heaven, please give us the courage today to look for an inexpressible sense of your presence and strength in our weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know-God knows. And I know that this man-whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Bonus Information

In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul continued his reluctant “boasting” he began in the previous chapter to counteract the claims of the “super apostles,” false teachers who were misleading the Corinthians by preaching “a Jesus other than the Jesus Paul preached”. In chapter 12, he tells of a time years earlier when he’d been “caught up to the third heaven”, or paradise, the place of God’s throne. According to ancient Jewish belief, there were three heavens. The first heaven was the earth’s atmosphere (winds and clouds) and the second consisted of the sun, moon, and stars.

 

 

Daily Scripture Series – October 3rd

“God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)

In 1876, inventor Alexander Graham Bell spoke the very first words on a telephone. He called his assistant, Thomas Watson, saying, “Watson, come here, I want to see you.” Crackly and indistinct, but intelligible, Watson heard what Bell had said. The first words spoken by Bell over a phone line proved that a new day for hum communication had dawned.

Establishing the dawn of the first day into the “formless and empty” earth (Genesis 1:2), God spoke His first words recorded in Scripture:”Let thee be light”. These words were filled with creative power. He spoke, and what He declared came into existence (Psalm 33:6,9). God said, “let there be light” and so it was. His words produced immediate victory as darkness and chaos gave way to the brilliance of light and order. light was God’s answer to the dominance of darkness. And when He had created the light, He saw that it “was good” (Genesis 1:4).

God’s first words continue to be powerful in the lives of believers in Jesus. With the dawning of each day. It’s as if God is restating His spoken words in our lives. When darkness-literally and metaphorically-gives way to the brilliance of His light, may we praise Him and acknowledge that He’s called out to us and truly see us.

Daily Questions

  1. When dawn breaks through the darkness, how will you celebrate God’s love and faithfulness?
  2. How has God’s light opened your eyes to see Him?

Daily Thoughts

Creator of Light, we praise You for dispelling the darkness of the world-opening our eyes to You and Your presence in our lives.

Genesis 1:1-4

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the ight was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

Bonus Information

Genesis means “origin.” Jewish scholars used this Greek title in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament (The Torah). The Hebrew title Bereshith is taken from the first word in the Hebrew text: “In the beginning (bereshith)” (Genesis, the book of many “firsts,” tells of the primeval history of the world in general and the patriarchal history of the people of Israel in particular. While not in any agreement concerning the specific dates for the primeval history, scholars suggest that Abraham moved to Canaan some two thousand years before Christ. Genesis is God’s account of the beginnings of the universe, the human race, and sin. It provides the background for His plan to save humanity through one family, the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-2)

 

We Must Hang Onto Our Faith

 

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you. Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God…..” “Followthe pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.” (2 Timothy 1:5-8, 13-14)

Faith, keep the faith, hang onto your faith, we hear it over and over again. In fact all scripture that was chosen for this Sunday in the back of my Bible, ALL revolved around faith. In the Old Testament it was a reading from the prophet  Habakkuk who was questioning his own faith and why was it that God seemed to be turning a deaf ear to all the suffering. Then there’s 2 Timothy, that I’ve chosen to take a closer look at, talks about faith, courage and not being ashamed, and then of course in Luke where Jesus talks about all you need is faith just the size of a mustard seed. All three of these are so relatable to what’s happening in today’s world. In fact, they couldn’t be chosen to be read at any better time when it seems there is so little faith to be found anywhere.

It can be so very difficult to talk about faith in times such as these. Just look at everything going on around us:

  • War in Ukraine
  • The devastation left behind from Hurricane Ian
  • The attack on our individual liberties
  • Our children under attack from all directions
  • Things we know to be true, because God claims them to be true, are under attack
  • Things that we know to be immoral are being advertised as “normal behavior” or “acceptable behavior”
  • The economy in total shambles, prices going beyond reasonable price hikes, food and energy shortages on the near horizon, in our very own country
  • Innocent people being persecuted simply for having dissenting voices while those who have committed real crimes are never held accountable

Just that alone makes it easy to understand why so many would be losing faith and struggling with the question, “Why God?” Just as the prophet Habakkuk asked why and felt he was losing his faith and asked God to help him make his faith stronger. It was OK with God that Habakkuk had faith that was faltering, because God can work with any amount of faith.

Jesus further emphasizes this same sentiment when His disciples are asking Jesus to help their strength to become stronger because, they too found it difficult to maintain their faith, with all that was happening around them, at their time. Jesus reassured them, and it should also reassure us, that even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, God can work with even faith as small as that. It’s a reminder to us all, that we cannot allow ourselves to believe that if our faith is faltering that there’s no hope. That’s playing right into the hands of Satan if we allow ourselves to get to that point of hopelessness.

Paul reminds Timothy and all of us in 2 Timothy that we need to rekindle our faith always because faith is a gift that comes directly from God Himself. It’s also important to note that the gift of faith was never meant to be timid. After all, look at Paul, those letters he wrote Timothy and to many of the churches Paul had started, were all from prison. And why was he in prison? Was it because he was timid in his faith? No way, instead it was just the opposite, it was because he was given the courage and power of God to stand up for his beliefs and his faith, knowing very well that it could result in his death, which of course that’s exactly what the outcome was.

Yet, during all of Paul’s persecution he wrote letters of encouragement to people like Timothy to stress the importance of holding onto that faith, no matter how weak or strong it might be, because God did not give any of us the spirit of cowardice, instead He gives us the spirit of power and love so that we can rise above persecution and the evil that might surround us.

There are so many battles that are in need of fighting right now and yes, it can make us want to run the other direction and bury our heads in the sand, hoping that it will all go away. But, when we do that, it makes us look as if we are ashamed of our Lord and that we are afraid to stand up against the forces of evil that wants nothing more than for us to take a knee to that evil and not God.

No matter how weak that we might think our faith is, it’s never too weak for God to work with for His good. This is vital for all believers to understand and hold onto. It’s our faith and especially our collective faith that’s going to help us fight the battles that lie ahead of us.

As Christians we must never be afraid to follow in the footsteps and the pattern of behavior that Jesus has provided for us. What’s extremely important here is that in order to fight against all that’s wrong in our country we must understand that God is asking for us to be unashamed of the truth and it is our duty to Him to be His warriors in guarding this truth, because He has entrusted us with His truth through His Holy Spirit.

It’s not going to be easy, but we need to band together as one united front in our faith to stop the continuing evil that is encroaching upon our individual liberties and the threat that it has to not just our country but to the lives of our loved ones and especially the children of this country. If we can’t stand as warriors together to guard and protect His truth, what future are we giving our children?

Remember, God has more faith in us than we tend to have in Him, and He will give us the victory over evil, if and only if, we are willing to stand with Him in the battle!

Daily Scripture Series – October 2nd

“I will come to you and fulfill my good promise.” (Jeremiah 29:10)

It makes you wonder sometimes if Israel doubted that God’s prophecy for them would be fulfilled when they lived as exiles in Babylon. Did they feel despair? Did they worry they’d be there forever? Through Jeremiah, God had said, “I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 29:10). Sure enough, seventy years later, God caused the Persian king Cyrus to allow the Jews to return and rebuild their temple in Jerusalem.

In seasons of waiting when it seems like nothing is happening, God hasn’t forgotten us. As the Holy Spirit helps us to develop patience, we can know that He’s the Hope-Giver, the Promise-Keeper, and the One who controls the future.

Daily Questions

  1. How does understanding God’s character help you when you’re waiting?
  2. What’s the relationship between doubt and faith?

Daily Thoughts

Dear God, help us to have faith in You as we wait. Show us how to handle doubt and display faith instead.

Jeremiah 29:4-14

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle donw; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters…Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Bonus Information

sometimes the prophet Jeremiah is called the “weeping prophet” because of the way he grieved over the people being taken captive by Babylon. In Jeremiah 13:17, we read: “If you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the lord’s flock will be taken captive.” It’s just one expression of the prophet’s many tears shed for his people. Lamentations 2;11 also describes Jeremiah’s tears as he observed the fall of Jerusalem.