Re:Verse reading–Mark 9:14-29 (day two) Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” vs. 24
Sounds a bit confusing, doesn’t it? You either believe or you don’t. Right? Perhaps, but faith isn’t always that cut and dried. What this father recognizes early, the disciples took longer, and maybe didn’t get at all. To say that we believe does not mean that we understand or fully comprehend. This father is desperate to help his son, but doesn’t just say yes to Jesus for a quick fix. He acknowledges Jesus’ power, but then quickly acknowledges how little he truly understands. Rarely, if ever, will we be able to say that we completely understand the plans and methods of God. He doesn’t ask us to. Submit that he does have the power to save, and leave your trust and need for details there.
Re:Verse reading–Mark 9:14-29 (day one) “
O’Why could we not cast it (an evil spirit) out?’ He said to them, ‘This kind can come out only through prayer.’ “–Mark 9:28-29
“Ask of ME is the one condition God puts in the advance and triumph of His cause.”–E. M. Bounds.
“The story of every great Christian achievement is the history of answered prayer.”–E. M. Bounds.
A forgotten reality in an everyone-gets-a-trophy age. Sincere belief does NOT guarantee certain measures and expressions of His power will be present in every church or Christian. Certain conditions apply. The first and greatest is prayer.
Mark 9 is the reminder. The struggle in heavenly realms is more real than we imagine. The power of darkness is deep and resilient. Human strength and effort snaps like a twig against such a foe.
If breakthrough is needed (and it is) the power of God is required. God’s condition for our access to liberating power is prayer.
Re:Verse reading–Hosea 1, 3, 14 (day seven)
Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” Hosea 3:1
Hosea 3:1 is as damning as verses come. Both Gomer and Israel have left their first loves for an illusion of affection that fades faster than it came. This text reminds me of another, Revelation 2:4.
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Revelation 2:4
Here in Revelation Jesus acknowledges seven churches, five of which he tells to prepare for the impending parousia by repenting (2:5, 2:16, 2:21, 3:3, 3:19). It is no accident that in the first three chapters of Revelation Jesus calls the churches to repent 5 different times. Sincere repentance is the only way to eternal salvation.
The first church Jesus speaks to is the church in Ephesus. He charges them with losing their first love. At one time they were near to God, learning and living His ancient ways, but recently they have faltered, chasing after the new and shiny. May we never falter chasing after the shiny new packaging of temptation remaining true to the ancient way of Jesus Christ.
Re:verse–Hosea 1,3,14 (day six)
God didn’t use a vision, or a dream to reveal the heart of his message to Hosea; he used real life. God commanded Hosea to marry, only to rescue his wife years later from a life of rampant adultery. The message was clear. It was not lost on Hosea just how devastating and painful sin could be, nor the cost of covenant keeping love.
The real life of Hosea spoke volumes about the ugliness of sin and the extraordinary love of God. I wonder what our real lives have to teach us?
Re:Verse reading–Hosea 1, 3, 14 (day five) Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel.”
Praise God for Again!! His persistent, gracious, and faithful love has pursued and found me countless times in rebellion, disobedience, dismay, brokenness, hopelessness, and apathy. Yet, He never stops loving. Never stops reminding. Never stops encouraging. Never stops forgiving and restoring. Again and again and again. How many times is that? Certainly more than I deserve.
It is a humbling reminder of our own struggle with sin to think how many times He has done that (again and again) for each of us. Yet, also a prompt for worship and praise of a God who is rich (endless) in mercy and grace.
Maybe a time of reflection and repentance for the “agains” in our lives would be helpful today. Follow that with a time of praise, thanksgiving, and worship.
Re:Verse reading–Hosea 1, 3, 14 (day four)
V.7 – “I will…deliver them by the Lord their God.”
Israel had long looked for the promised Messiah. They were looking for a political, military leader who would deliver them from their oppressors. They completely misunderstood the work of redemption that would come through the messiah. God had foretold the spiritual nature of the messiah, but they could not see clearly God’s plan. As a result, they missed Jesus as God’s promised redeemer.
How often do we have an expectation for the way God will work in a given situation? We lay out all the ‘facts’ so God will understand that our plan is best. Then…when His way is different, we are baffled as to what went wrong. We must seek to listen to God rather than dictate to Him what we think is best. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways…as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are His ways higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Re:Verse reading–Hosea 1, 3, 14 (day three)
Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness.
Nothing ever hurts like family. Family can nurture and encourage and teach and give. But family can also strip-mine your soul until your life is a wasteland of scarred earth. With family possessing that kind of potential for joy and sorrow, it’s no wonder that the Lord would point to Hosea’s family story in order to reveal the depth of sorrow, anger, and betrayal that arises within God himself when those whom he loves turn their devotion and allegiance and attention away from him. The resulting woundedness did not spare even God from desertion and death. And still he longs for a home with human beings. Those who turn toward him seeking reconciliation will find all is not lost. There is a family to come home to after all.
Re:Verse reading–Hosea 1, 3, 14 (day two) For the ways of the Lord are right,
And the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them. 14:9b
You, through your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. Psalm 119:98
One of the ways that we use the Word of God and his statutes is as a diviner between good and sin. It will always point out where we have fallen short, but it is constant. Trying to perfectly keep the law is daunting, to say the least, but it is in its constancy that we find hope. We have a perfect example, a Father who has made provision for us to be redeemed, and the Spirit to continually encourage and guide. The way of the Lord should be your delight, for through it is the hope of salvation. Those who do not receive this will only find disappointment.
Re:Verse reading–Hosea 1, 3, 14 (day one)
“Take words with you and return to the Lord”–14:2
If you have ever had a broken relationship, you know. Words matter. They heal or cause further harm. Bridges or barricades.
Hosea prophesied a time when Israel would return to God. His harsh discipline having accomplished its purpose, they would realize how foolish and unfaithful they had been and would come back to Him, seeking restoration.
“Take words with you”, says the prophet. Consider and prepare what you will say. No easy or irresponsible “sorry” will be accepted. Own what you have done. If you don’t know what to say, you are not ready. The way back is paved with words.
Read Psalm 51. (David) Read the Prodigal Son. Honest, pride-discarding words. Words of apology. Words that accept guilt and ask for forgiveness.
“Let the words of my mouth be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord” (Psalm 19:14) Especially when I have been unfaithful and foolish.
Re:Verse reading–Daniel 6 (day seven)
Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God. Daniel 6:10-11
Daniel marked his life with unbending obedience to God praying three times a day. His adversaries knew if there was anything they could count on they could count on Daniel to submit to his God like clockwork.
If someone had been following you this summer how many moments of unbending obedience to God did they note? Showing love to a neighbor? Witnessing? Mornings on your knees in prayer? You do not necessarily need to pray three times a day like Daniel, but you should have your regular appointments with God scheduled throughout your week. The day, time, duration, etc. are between you and God, but anyone seeking God with all their heart is going to spend time with God no matter what else is going on around them.