Day 274 – October 1, 2021
Scriptures: Jeremiah 11-13, Hebrews 1
Bible Project Hebrews
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3, NIV)
“This is what the Lord says: “As for all my wicked neighbors who seize the inheritance I gave my people Israel, I will uproot them from their lands and I will uproot the people of Judah from among them. But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people. But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it,” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 12:14–17, NIV)
In Jeremiah there is a threat against the people of Judah from the people of Anathoth.
“Therefore this is what the Lord says about the people of Anathoth who are threatening to kill you, saying, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands”—therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will punish them. Their young men will die by the sword, their sons and daughters by famine.” (Jeremiah 11:21–22)
Hebrews opens with a. greater word. A greater prophet, with a greater message has come. He sustains all things by his powerful word.
A greater prophet has come, who seeks and rescues us. We are the redeemed people of God!
Day 273 – September 30, 2021
Scriptures: Jeremiah 9-10, Psalm 79, 1 Thessalonians 5
An appeal to the mercies of God:
“Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants.” (Psalm 79:8–10)
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–21)
“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
I love Paul’s closing encouragement in 1 Thess. It is a wonderful reminder for us of what our lives should look like. Our lives are filled with Rejoicing. Prayer and Giving thanks!
The call is to trust in God! That ultimately the appeal of Jeremiah. Will the people turn to God and trust in him, or not?
As we connect the Testaments today, we are challenged by Jeremiah and Psalm to see God as a merciful God. Our response of praise is celebrating the faithful God, who remembers his people.
Trust in the mercies of God. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it!
Day 272 – September 29, 2021
Scriptures: Psalms 81, Jeremiah 7-8, 1 Thessalonians 4
The important connection in today’s reading would be the call to holiness. Paul calls the church in Thessalonica to be holy, just as Jeremiah calls Judah to holiness as well.
Today I want to draw our attention to the hope we hold as the holy people of God.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18)
It was N.T. Wright who helped me see what is going on with this familiar passage. It is commonly the chief passage used to explain the “rapture.” But is that what is going on here? Being whisked away from the earth on the day of judgment?
I’ve always struggled with rapture theology because of Revelation 21, God is making his home here with us. Heaven and earth join in Rev 21-22. So how do these passages jive together?
When a king returned after being gone for long periods of time, the people of the kingdom would go outside of the city gates and welcome the returning dignitary. It was a way of celebrating the return of their king.
Reading 1 Thessalonians 4, considering this, it is great to see that there is a beautiful depiction of Christ’s return. His people will go outside of the gates and welcome their king. Christ is coming and setting the world to rights!
As we reflect and hope in God today, we do so as those who know that there is a true king and ruler, Jesus Christ. We do not grieve as those who are without hope, we look ahead, and trust and know that Jesus is coming soon!
Await your king!
Day 271 – September 28, 2021
Scriptures: Psalms 14, Jeremiah 5-6, 1 Thessalonians 3
“All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:3)
“Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent.” (Jeremiah 5:3)
“This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16)
“May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” (1 Thessalonians 3:13)
What say you? Will you seek the ancient paths? Will you ask where the good way is and walk in it?
Will you find that which will offer you rest for your soul?
Strengthen your heart today and walk in the way of the Lord.
Day 270 – September 27, 2021
Scriptures: Jeremiah 3-4, 1 Thessalonians 2
“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:11–12)
We are called to live lives worthy of God, who calls us into the kingdom and glory.
That is not unlike what Jeremiah is declaring on behalf of the Lord to the people of Judah. God is calling them out of the darkness and into the light. They are spoken of as dearly loved spouse. Though they have turned adulterously away from God, he still beckons them to come home and repent.
Paul celebrates a new dawn of a new life made possible through Christ. WE take on this Gospel, the hop e of a new life in the kingdom of God.
Live our lives worthy of this gospel, not turning away from God but drawing closer to him.
Day 269 – September 26, 2021
Scriptures: Jeremiah 1-2, Psalms 28, 1 Thessalonians 1
1 Thessalonians Bible Project
“This is what the Lord says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.” (Jeremiah 2:5)
“Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.” (Psalm 28:9)
“for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9–10)
In Christ we are called from our old lives and into new life. We are called to set aside the worthless idols that have garnered our worship and turn towards God only.
Paul is celebrating that the church in Thessalonica has turned from idols. What Jeremiah hoped for and preached is now present in the church.
Let us heed the message of Jeremiah, and have the faith of the Thessalonians, turn from idols and worship the Lord.
Day 268 – September 25, 2021
Scriptures: Habakkuk 1-3, Philippians 4
Habakkuk Bible Project
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.” (Habakkuk 3:17–19)
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
Christ gives us the strength we need to press forward in seeking first the kingdom of God. It is Christ’s strength that upholds us to navigate the many circumstances of our life, some of them incredibly difficult and even painful.
I don’t know that Paul had in mind making baskets and scoring touchdowns when he tells us of the power of Christ in us. Rather, It might be that he had Habakkuk 3 in mind. “I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he enables me to overcome the trials we are facing and the threat against us” (my paraphrase).
Anyways, the connection here is that the circumstances of life can vary wildly. From incredible difficulty to the greatest of joys. And Christ is the gift and strength for us through it all.
Day 267 – September 24, 2021
Scriptures: Psalms 116, Jonah 2-4, Philippians 3
Jonah is a reluctant prophet. He is incredibly effective; the whole city repents after his brief message.
It’s an incredible part of the story. Nineveh, the great city, mourns over their sins and turns to God. If I ever preached that effective of a message, I don’t think I would react the way Jonah does. “I knew that you were a merciful God and that they would turn to you. That’s why I was reluctant!” God’s benevolent kindness…well it frustrates Jonah. He seems disgusted by it. He wanted vengeance and wrath for the Ninevites. Instead, they received mercy. That’s why he ran to Tarshish. And its why he was so angry that the plant withered and died.
Paul’s words in Philippians tell of a preacher/missionary who is thrilled to proclaim the hope of the Gospel. Paul is experiencing his own suffering, his own imprisonment, He is suffering, and it is met with praise and joy.
Two contrasting images. One that asks me to consider my own attitude; Do I care for those who are far away from the Lord?
Am I filled with joy, even in the difficulty of life?
Day 266 – September 23, 2021
Scriptures; Psalms 107, Jonah 1, Philippians 2
“Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.” (Psalm 107:43, NIV)
“But he lifted the needy out of their affliction and increased their families like flocks.” (Psalm 107:41, NIV)
Philippians 2 is a celebratory hymn of the humility, humanity, divinity, and sovereignty of Christ. God lifts the humbled Jesus! This celebration becomes for Paul, the call to the Philippians church to lift one another up by looking to the needs of others before their own.
God continually lifts those who find themselves in humble circumstances. That’s what is celebrated in Psalm 107. At the end of the Psalm, we are encouraged to “heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.” What is it that he does? “He lifted the needy out of their affliction…”
Today’s scripture reading includes yet another well-known story, Jonah. Jonah is fleeing God and his mission. Later we will find out that it is because he knows exactly the kind of God he is dealing with, one who is merciful and faithful. Jonah knows that if he goes to Nineveh, and the people humble themselves and repent, that God will save them. It turns out that Jonah doesn’t care for Ninevites!
The call of today’s text is quite clearly towards humility, kindness, and love in Christ. Taking on the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. We instead of look with condemnation towards our enemies, we offer compassion, grace, and mercy in the name of Christ. We humble ourselves of our pride and take the message of hope to those who need it most.
What a great encouragement today to remember that God lifts the humble, and cares for the afflicted. He did it for his son, and he promises to do the same for you and me.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Day 265 – September 22, 2021
Bible Project Philippians
Scriptures: Zechariah 12-14, Philippians 1
Zechariah looks to the Day of the Lord. A day in which night is day, earthquakes shake the foundations of the earth, and shatter injustice in the world. Living waters flow to the east and to the west, to the ends of the earth.
As a Christian, when you read the Old Testament, there are a few items that stand out in our Zechariah reading. You can’t help but see some of the fulfillment of this anticipated day in which the Messiah comes and rights the wrongs of the world. Earthquakes, Mount of Olives, Living water…? That all sounds like Jesus, and it is.
But we live in a now but not yet world. Paul helps us see this in Philippians. “Whatever happens, as citizens of heaven live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ….This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved” (Philippians 1:27-28)
We live our lives in light of the Gospel, in a worthy manner of the Gospel of Christ, in anticipation that God will finally and completely right the wrongs of the world. Zechariah’s vision captures in part the great work of the Lord Jesus Christ to right the wrongs, the injustices, and we await the day in which the streams of living water flow. We live in it now, with anticipation of it fully one day.
Live in a manner, worthy of the Gospel.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.