Thoroughly Equipped: Worthy Words

Today’s reading is Jeremiah 14:11-16:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-3:13, Psalm 80:1-19, Proverbs 25:1-5.

We are well into the book of Jeremiah, and I can’t claim to understand it all.  In very simplistic terms, Jeremiah is called by God to speak to God’s people.  He is called to speak difficult words and difficult warnings.  Judgement is coming upon the people and God is yearning for them to repent and return to Him, but He is willing to get their attention with calamity, as well.  In fact, so many warnings have already been spoken, that the next “warning” will be action.  Perhaps this action of calamity will bring the people back to God, thus preventing more calamity.  Today’s passage begins with Jeremiah complaining to God about a different message other “prophets” are telling the people.  And the basic message of those so-called prophets was peace and prosperity.  They were saying only what the people wanted to hear and not only was it not helpful to the people, it was false.  These false messages were going to make the calamity to come even worse.

Next, we see Jeremiah bemoaning his lot.  He cries out to God and God assures him that he will indeed have a covering.  However, being covered from a storm does not mean that we don’t have to endure the discomfort and destruction around us.  Even so, in the midst of it all we can truly say:  It is well with my soul.  It may not be well with my body, with my heart, with my emotions, but it can always be well with my soul.

I had this experience this week:  I clicked on a news report from a respected news outlet.  And oh, how I wish I had not read it.  It stayed with me for days, and even now I wish I didn’t have that in my head.  I was sick with the deeds of one human to another.  I was shocked that such abuse could take place.  I found myself thinking, “At least I am shocked.  At least I am horrified.  At least this has not become so common place that I am no longer affected.”  So, even though this did not have anything to do with me, I still had to struggle with the effects of it, because of the world we live in.  I still experienced the grief of it; and it made me want to run and hide my family from the world.  Yet, even as I thought that, I immediately realized that this is not an option.  We can’t hide away from the dark world, lest it become darker and darker.  We must let our light shine.

And then, we come to the verses that stopped me in my tracks today.

19 Therefore this is what the Lord says:

“If you repent, I will restore you
    that you may serve me;
if you utter worthy, not worthless, words,
    you will be my spokesman.

Jeremiah 15:19

This was spoken to Jeremiah, the godly prophet in the midst of the darkness.  The one trying to do the right thing, listen to God, speak the words of God—he, too, had to repent.  Just because his sin did not have the earthly degree of severity, did not mean it did not have to be attended to.  For truthfully, all sin puts a separation between us and God.  The degree levels are only discernable here on earth.

And then these words:  if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman.

Those words got me on my knees.  I cried out to the Lord, saying, “Oh, Lord, forgive me for the worthless words I speak every day.  And please, Lord, put only worthy words on my tongue.”

Worthy words.  How much encouragement and truth we could bestow to others with worthy words.  How much less arguing and bickering would take place if we committed to saying only worthy words.  How many reputations would be intact if we did not attack with gossip, slander, or even truthful words that are still not worthy for us to say about someone to another.  Wouldn’t we be better off to just take those things to the Father, rather than the phone?

I am speaking to myself.  But maybe, just maybe, someone else needed to be reminded of this, too?  Please, friends, let’s together commit to speaking only worthy words that we may each be a spokesman for the Lord.


Thoroughly Equipped: Bible Reading Schedule for October

Hello, my friends!

Well, I am three days behind in posting this.  Actually, I feel like I am about three days behind in just about everything!  I could list the reasons why, however, you are living life just as I am, so I’m sure there is no need to explain.  I hope you are still with me on this!  We only have three more months and we will have read through the entire Bible!  Even if you have gotten off track (as I have this month!) just start back reading!  This is not a challenge to win or lose.  No matter how much you actually read, you will benefit from the living Word–for God’s Word will not return void, but will accomplish that for which it is sent.  So hang in there!  And I will, too!

Blessings to you all!

Sara

October 1:   Isaiah 62:6-65:25, Philippians 2:19-3:4, Psalm 73:1-28, Proverbs 24:13-14

October 2:   Isaiah 66:1-24, Philippians 3:5-21, Psalm 74:1-23, Proverbs 24:15-16

October 3:   Jeremiah 1:1-2:30, Philippians 4:1-23, Psalm 75:1-10, Proverbs 24:17-20

October 4:   Jeremiah 2:31-4:18, Colossians 1:1-17, Psalm 76:1-12, Proverbs 24:21-22

October 5:   Jeremiah 4:19-6:15, Colossians 1:18-2:7, Psalm 77:1-20, Proverbs 24:23-25

October 6:   Jeremiah 6:16-8:7, Colossians 2:8-23, Psalm 78:1-31, Proverbs 24:26

October 7:   Jeremiah 8:8-9:26, Colossians 3:1-17, Psalm 78:32-55, Proverbs 24:27

October 8:   Jeremiah 10:1-11:23, Colossians 3:18-4:18, Psalm 78:56-72, Proverbs 24:28-29

October 9:   Jeremiah 12:1-14:10, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:8, Psalm 79:1-13, Proverbs 24:30-34

October 10:  Jeremiah 14:11-16:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-3:13, Psalm 80:1-19, Proverbs 25:1-5

October 11:  Jeremiah 16:16-18:23, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3, Psalm81:1-16, Proverbs 25:6-7

October 12:  Jeremiah 19:1-21:14, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-28, Psalm 82:1-8, Proverbs 25:8-10

October 13:  Jeremiah 22:1-23:20, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12, Psalm 83:1-18, Proverbs 25:11-14

October 14:  Jeremiah 23:21-25:38, 2Thessalonians 2:1-17, Psalm 84:1-12, Proverbs 25:15

October 15:  Jeremiah 26:1-27:22, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18, Psalm 85:1-13, Proverbs 25:16

October 16:  Jeremiah 28:1-29:32, 1 Timothy1:1-20, Psalm 86:1-17, Proverbs 25:17

October 17:  Jeremiah 30:1-31:26, 1 Timothy 2:1-15, Psalm 87:1-17, Proverbs 25:18-19

October 18:  Jeremiah 31:27-32:44, 1 Timothy 3:1-16, Psalm 88:1-18, Proverbs 25:20-22

October 19:  Jeremiah 33:1-34:22, 1 Timothy 4:1-16, Psalm 89:1-13, Proverbs 25:23-24

October 20:  Jeremiah 35:1-36:32, 1 Timothy 5:1-25, Psalm 89:14-37, Proverbs 25:25-27

October 21:  Jeremiah 37:1-38:28, 1 Timothy 6:1-21, Psalm 89:38-52, Proverbs 25:28

October 22:  Jeremiah 39:1-41:18, 2 Timothy 1:1-18, Psalm 90:1-91:16, Proverbs 26:1-2

October 23:  Jeremiah 42:1-44:23, 2 Timothy 2:1-21, Psalm 92:1-93:5, Proverbs 26:3-5

October 24:  Jeremiah 44:24-47:7, 2 Timothy 2:22-3:17, Psalm 94:1-23, Proverbs 26: 6-8

October 25:  Jeremiah 48:1-49:22, 2 Timothy 4:1-22, Psalm 95:1-96:13, Proverbs 26:9-12

October 26:  Jeremiah 49:23-50:46, Titus 1:1-16, Psalm 97:1-98:9, Proverbs 26:13-16

October 27:  Jeremiah 51:1-53, Titus 2:1-15, Psalm 99:1-9, Proverbs 26:17

October 28:  Jeremiah 51:54-52:34, Titus 3:1-15, Psalm 100:1-5, Proverbs 26:18-19

October 29:  Lamentations 1:1-2:19, Philemon 1:1-25, Psalm 101:1-8, Proverbs 26:20

October 30:  Lamentations 2:20-3:66, Hebrews 1:1-14, Psalm 102:1-28, Proverbs 26:21-22

October 31:  Lamentations 4:1-5:22, Hebrews 2:1-18, Psalm 103: 1-22, Proverbs 26:23


Thoroughly Equipped: Where Does My Help Come From?

Today’s reading is Isaiah 8:1-9:21, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Psalm 55:1-23, Proverbs 23:4-5.

Today is September 11.  Let that sink in.  Where were you 16 years ago?  I remember it vividly.  I had gotten a couple of my kids off to school, the rest were playing quietly, so I decided to get a cup of coffee and catch the news on the Today show.  Immediately, I was glued to the television, coffee grew cold, and I sat and wept as it unfolded before me and the rest of the world.  It is a day that those of us who were grown enough to understand will never forget.  Things changed that day—permanently.  There is the undercurrent of knowing that “it” could happen—whatever that “it” is in our imagination.  Before 9/11, I know I for one did not think the “its” of the world could happen—not to my home, not to my state, and surely not to our wonderful country.  But it did.  And we survived.  And whatever “it” is that could happen again, we can survive that, too.  However, the survival in catastrophic events is no longer dependent upon good will, good policies, or even good preparedness.  All those things are great and important.  But that is not what we need to survive—even thrive—after terrible events occur.  We need God.  It is as plain and simple as that.  It is an urgent message, a timely message.  I do not post this to be all doom and gloom.  I don’t say these words because I am scared or even because I think something bad will happen—just look around and realize that something bad is already happening every day, whether big or small in the world’s eyes.  So, where will we go?  Where will we turn?  In the floods and storms and earthquakes and tornados and hurricanes of our lives, where will we go?  To where—to Whom—will we evacuate?

As I have stated before, I have always had sleep patterns that allow for very vivid dreams.  I remember lots of my dreams and often have “story time” for my closest family and friends.  I am sure they may roll their eyes at times when I start the sentence with “I had the strangest dream last night.”  But you know, scripture tells us that God can teach us in the night watches, and sometimes, whether it’s pizza or providence, I have a dream from which I can learn something.  Such is the case in a dream I had a couple of years ago.  For obvious reasons, I have remembered this dream in the past few days and have been reminded again of its lesson.

I dreamed that I was standing before a giant wave—a terrible storm, typhoon, hurricane.  And I knew there was nothing I could do about it.  There was nothing I could do to change the situation.  So I braced myself and prayed to God.  And in my dream, I was swept on top of the wave and carried along in a gentle fashion.  I still experienced the giant wave and all of its destructive power, but I was riding above it, and therefore it couldn’t hurt me.  In my dream, I then landed on an island filled with people, unaware that another giant wave was about to come.  I gathered as many as I could and took them to the top floor of a large building on the island.  I looked around me and realized that this building was made of glass, and though it was tall, it would never withstand the great wave.  My hope in this man-made structure was useless.  And then I looked out the window and I saw the mountains behind me.  I knew that I had to get the people to the mountain—a safe structure, made by God, not by man.

I don’t need to break it down for you as to why I have been thinking about that dream this week.  But what I will do it this:  I will remind you of truth from God’s Word.  In today’s reading, there were snippets of truth we can remember today and every day that storms and fears of storms come into our lives.

11 The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said,

12 “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do,
    and don’t live in dread of what frightens them.
13 Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life.
    He is the one you should fear.
He is the one who should make you tremble.
14     He will keep you safe.

                                                            Isaiah 8:13-14

Yes, He will keep us safe.  But we have to understand that the safety of the Lord may be different than our view of safety.  Yes, he is capable of keeping our bodies safe and sound.  And yes, even our possessions He can guard.  However, the true mark of safety is not in this temporary body, nor in our temporary treasures.  The true mark of safety is the safety of our souls.  And only God can take care of that.  And our reading today, prophetically tells where that safety lies.

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

[g]The people who walk in darkness
    will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,[h]
    a light will shine.

                                                            Isaiah 9:1-2

Where is this great light?  Or rather Who is this great light, the glory coming from Galilee?

For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor,[i] Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
    will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
    for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
    will make this happen!

                                                            Isaiah 9:6-7

Do you recognize that description?  Who is this great light, this great glory?  It is our Jesus, of course.  Though I don’t normally read The Message, I do like the way it describes these verses:

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
    light! sunbursts of light!

For a child has been born—for us!
    the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
    the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
    Strong God,
Eternal Father,
    Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
    and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.

                                                            Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7

There are no limits to the wholeness He brings.  And no storm or flood or tragedy can take that away from us.  So, whatever you are facing this day or in the days to come, remember these words:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
  the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

                                                            Psalm 121


Thoroughly Equipped: More Than Conquerors

Today’s reading includes Isaiah 1:1-2:22, 2 Corinthians 10:1-18, Psalm 52:1-9, Proverbs 22:26-27.  I am so excited about moving into the book of Isaiah.  It is one of my most favorite of the whole Bible.  There are many prophesies found in the book of Isaiah regarding the coming Messiah, and all of them were fulfilled in Jesus.  But before we dive into the book of the prophet Isaiah, let’s look back at the very first prophesy of the coming Messiah.  Remember, it is found all the way back in the book of Genesis.

 

So the Lord God said to the serpent [Satan, who had tricked Eve], ‘Because you have done this, ‘Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  [Here comes the first prophesy!]  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he [Eve’s future offspring, Jesus!] will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’”                                            

                                                                      (Genesis 3: 14; author emphasis added)

You see, Jesus would use His anointed feet to spiritually stomp Satan’s headship, forever giving victory to all who believe!

 

Yesterday we talked about the “little foxes” that Satan sends into our spiritual vineyard to destroy our spiritual fruit.  I didn’t want to leave you hanging with the spiritual truth of the schemes of the devil, without equipping you with the spiritual truth of your authority in Christ over the schemes of the devil.  We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.  (Romans 8:37)  And scripture is filled with weapons of warfare at our beck and call.  Consider the following truths as you trust in Christ to stomp the head of the enemy of your soul.

We must know our enemy to defeat our enemy.  What do we learn in scripture about Satan?

  1. Once was an angel of light, but now the prince of darkness.

Therefore, he knows the language and the make-up of the life of a believer.  I know the language of being a teacher, even though I am no longer a classroom teacher.  Satan knows and he will use that knowledge against us.

 

14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”

                                                            2 Corinthians 11:14

 

How you have fallen from heaven,
    morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
    you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
    “I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
    above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
    on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.[b]
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
    to the depths of the pit.

Isaiah 14:12-15

 

  1. He believes in Jesus (and trembles). He may even recognize Jesus more readily than we do.  James 2:19 says,

“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.”

  1. One day Satan WILL BOW to the name of Jesus. In fact, he must bow now, only we don’t usually understand that, and therefore don’t walk in the power we have.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11

  1. He hates the blood of Jesus and the word of our testimony.

11 They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.

Revelation 12:11

  1. We have authority because Jesus lives in us. All authority.

Mark 3:14-16 says,

14 He appointed twelve[a] that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 

  1. He knows scripture and will try to use it against us—only distortedly.

I use to love to watch Little House on the Prairie.  Do you remember that episode where Ma cut her leg and it got infected?  She was all alone, burning up with fever, reading her Bible.  She read the verse “if your right hand offends you cut it off…”  And so, in the episode, she took a sharp knife, determined to cut her leg.  Thankfully, they cut to a commercial instead!  Even as a child I knew that was scripture being distorted.  I wanted to scream at the television, “Don’t do it, Ma!  That’s not what it means!”  Satan will try to distort scripture.  That is why it is important to read the whole Bible, not just a few selected verses.  Satan even tried this trick on Jesus.

Matthew 4: 1-11 says,

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

  1. We have been given tools to combat Satan. And we need to use them.

This may be the most important point.  And with it being the 7th, the number of completion, I will leave you with these final truths.  What are these tools?

  • Repentance
  • Praise
  • Surrender
  • Name of Jesus
  • Pleading the blood of Jesus
  • Word of our testimony
  • Speaking out/praying/ laying claim to God’s Word, the Sword of the Spirit
  • The armor of God
  • Believing in Him, who is He, and what He has done. Believing what He will do.

Blessings to you, my friends!  May we all be the conquerors that God designed us to be.


Thoroughly Equipped: Authority to Tread

Today’s reading is Song of Songs 5:1-8:14, 2 Corinthians 9:1-15, Psalm 51:1-19, Proverbs 22:24-25.

One verse from yesterday’s reading cannot be overlooked for it shouts great truth that will help us in our daily lives.

“Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming.”

                                                            Song of Songs 2:15

Let’s think about this in relation to a fruitful spiritual life.  If we are abiding in and growing in our relationship with Christ, we will bear spiritual fruit.  John 15:16 says, “16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.”  God chose us to become sons of God that we may bear fruit.  What is spiritual fruit?  The answer can be found at the very beginning of the Bible.

11 Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.

                                                     Genesis 1:11-12

From the very beginning of time, God set up the natural and spiritual order of things.  In the natural, plants bear fruit with seed in it.  The seed in the fruit is used to reproduce itself.  And so the process reoccurs over and over.  In the same way, God established spiritual fruit bearing at the beginning of time.

28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it…

                                                Genesis 1:28

Yes, this, too, is a natural process, in that human beings were to produce more human beings; but it was also spiritual reproduction, because humans were the only creation which was made in the image of God.  We are the Image bearers, and as we bear and display the image of God, we produce spiritual fruit—fruit that will last for all eternity.  But a word of caution about our fruit-bearing ability is found in John 15.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He [a]prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already [b]clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit [c]of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither canyou unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so [d]prove to be My disciples.

                                                      John 15:1-8

We cannot bear spiritual fruit about from Christ.  We must stay connected to Him to bear spiritual fruit.  And the enemy of our soul does not want this to happen—which leads us back to the assigned reading today:

“Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming.”

                                                            Song of Songs 2:15

If you have traveled far with Jesus, you will know that just as we begin to bear fruit, the enemy tries to thwart our efforts or spoil our fruit.  Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, but sometimes he masquerades as a little fox.  Sometimes our spiritual fruit is eaten up and spoiled by the little foxes which need to be caught and dispelled from our spiritual vineyard.

What are the little foxes in your life?  You know, those small irritations or inconveniences which thwart our fruitfulness?  Often there is a pattern which occurs over and over.  Satan is not very smart.  He often uses the same old tricks to derail us.  And we keep falling for it over and over because we don’t recognize it a “little fox in our vineyard”.

When do the little foxes most often come?  Satan knows our weakness.  He knows our fears, our scars, our unhealed traumas.  He knows what will really stop us in our tracks.  He knows when we are tired or bitter or when we have our guard down.

Why do the little foxes come?  The enemy sends the little foxes in our life so that we will be hindered in our command to be fruitful and multiply.  He cannot do anything about our salvation, for we are the children of God, bought with the price of the blood of Jesus, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.  But he can try to prevent us from reproducing the seed of faith in other people.

One thing about the little foxes, though.  We are bigger, we are stronger, and they are really more scared of us than we are of them.  We just need to catch them.  They are sly.  They are sneaky.  But once we recognize them, we can bind them up with the authority that Christ has given us.

No weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

Isaiah 54:17

17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Matthew 28:17-18

19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

Luke 10:19

Yep, and even authority over the little foxes in the vineyard.