It’s Thursday morning, which is the day before Friday. That’s a good thing. I’m looking forward to some R&R this weekend. For some reason, I’m really tired this week. If you want to see the baseball updates and other stuff, check out Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit.
Father, show me something new today.
Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles– 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
This is the beginning of Jesus’s ministry. Notice the message he preached is exactly the same as John’s. Only this time, the “kingdom of heaven,” was right in front of them!
18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Here, Jesus calls his first disciples. Peter and Andrew are first, followed by James and John. There must have been something about him that caused them to obey and follow so “immediately.” If Jesus were to appear to me and tell me something, would I be that quick to follow?
23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
Jesus’s ministry gained popularity as he traveled around Galilee. Was it the teaching? Was it the healing? I know how people are; they flocked to him for the healing, but some would benefit from the teaching, as well.
There is a sense of arrogance that has been displayed by the “heads of Jacob.” But here, Micah accuses them of hating good and loving evil (v. 2). And the evil that is described in verse 3 is atrocious. I can only hope that it is metaphorical. The Lord will hide his face from them; he will not answer them (v. 4). And because the “prophets” continually cry “peace,” while they are filling their bellies, but deny those who have nothing to eat, 6 Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without divination. The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be black over them; 7 the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God. I’m guessing that verse 8 refers to Micah: But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.
The arrogance reaches its height in verse 11 as the priests and prophets only “preach” for money, but say, “Is not the LORD in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us.” The result is in verse 12: Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height. Because of who? Look again…because of the greedy priests and prophets.
The “preacher” continues to speak of what he considers to be vanity. It might be worth noting that “vanity” in this case means something more than what we consider vanity in our day. When I think of “vanity,” I think of someone who likes themselves a lot, but the older meaning of the word is more along the lines of “useless.” Things that are done “in vain.” For no purpose. And the first thing recorded in chapter 6 is a man who is given “wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him the power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them.” (v. 2) It is said that, even though a man live two thousand years, under these circumstances, a stillborn child is better off than he. “All the toil of a man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.” (v. 7) I’m not sure if this book can get less cheerful! But there is so much truth in it. This man knew very well the human condition. 11 The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? 12 For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?
Prayer from The Valley of Vision
FIRST DAY EVENING: THE TEACHER
We bless you,
our Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, Teacher,
for opening to us the volume of nature where we may read and consider your works.
You have this day spread before us the fuller pages of revelation,
and in them we see what you would have us do,
what you require of us,
what you have done for us,
what you have promised to us,
what you have given us in Jesus.
We pray for a conscious experience of his salvation,
in our deliverance from sin,
in our bearing his image,
in our enjoying his presence,
in our being upheld by his free Spirit.
Let us not live uncertain of what we are,
of where we are going.
Bear witness with our spirit that we are your children;
And enable each one to say, ‘I know my Redeemer.’
Bless us with a growing sense of this salvation.
If already enlightened in Christ, may we see greater things;
If quickened, may we have more abundant life;
If renewed, let us go on from strength to strength.
Give us closer abiding in Jesus that we may
bring forth more fruit,
have a deeper sense of our obligations to him,
that we may surrender all,
have a fuller joy,
that we may serve him more completely.
And may our faith work by love
towards him who died,
towards our fellow-believers,
towards our fellow-men.
Father, do we only come to you for healing? Do we only come to you because you provide us food for our mouths? Do we only come to you for what we get out of you? Alas, I fear that this is true so much of the time. Lord, I hear people say they don’t like to attend church services because they don’t get anything out of them. But that is not why I attend church services. I attend them that I might worship you with other believers! I don’t care what I get out of it; anything I “get” is a bonus, because I am there to “give!” I am there to give worship, honor, and praise to you! Sometimes I leaved changed. Sometimes I don’t. But I have worshiped you, and that is the purpose. And through that worship, I am empowered; I am rejuvenated. In what other relationship do we grow by giving? When I worship you, I am filled! When I empty myself, I am strengthened!
I pray for the state of our modern world, Lord, especially the “religious leaders” that are so greedy and pompous. I pray for all “preachers” who lead people astray and then proclaim that you are in their midst. Should I pray that you bring them down? Rather, I would pray that you change them; lead them into truth, so that they lead people correctly. I would rather see truth than vengeance.
Make me a kinder person, Father. Let your Holy Spirit flow into my heart and out of my expressions. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, Father! Let no harsh words come out of my mouth. I still catch myself speaking and then, later, thinking, why did I say that?? I am ashamed, sometimes, at the words that come out of my mouth. Fill me, Lord. Fill me with your Spirit.
I pray for this day, as always. I pray that Christi will have a better day, and that she will not have to work such long hours. I pray for her physical strength, her spiritual strength, and her state of mind. I pray for those above her, that they would have wisdom. I also pray for my day at work. Let us have a successful day today. I pray that Stephanie will have a grand time at Champ Camp today. Also, thank you for reminding me of that so I could go wake her up in time!
I continue to pray for Diane, Gina, and their family. Give them healing and comfort. Keep their faith strong.
The phrase “a conscious experience of his salvation” really stuck out in that Puritan prayer. I like that. We need that “conscious experience.” Look for that today.
Grace and peace, friends.