Obadiah B

“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, You who live in the clefts of the rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’” (3)

All throughout the Bible, pride and arrogance is heavily warned against. Whenever we feel so high on ourselves that we fancy ourselves immune to judgement or suffering, we are about to be proven wrong.

This tiny book carrying just one prophesy against Edom is easily missed (in fact, you may notice it back-to-back, because we did miss it the first time). Why does Edom’s folly warrant a whole book?

Perhaps to underline just what will remain when all is said and done; when the Day of the LORD finally arrives: the Humble.

Those who humbly look to Him and cling to His promises. Those who admit weakness and walk in obedient dependence.

The story of Esau/Edom is strange. Esau was supposed to be the heir to the promise, but was short-sighted and sold his birthright blessing for a meal. His crafty brother and mother stole the blessing his father had reserved for him. Jacob was a deceitful, conniving opportunist. Why should he be rewarded?

Because he fought for what was important and left the rest. It feels weird to encourage—and hopefully none of us have to be so ruthless—but what are we doing to fight for the blessing and favor of the LORD?

What does it look like for you to fear Him over anything and anyone else? How is your life marked by humility? Is it?

Edom couldn’t receive the same blessing as Israel, so they constructed their own fortresses to boast in. Have you created false fortresses? How can you identify them? What will happen when they come crashing down?

Always humility. Always obedience.

“GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter‬ ‭5:5-7‬)

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This marks the end of our four years of blogging. We will keep studying, but we won’t keep commenting about it here. Thank you for being on this journey with us. Stay turned for what is next with us, and—more importantly—never never never stop eating this bread of life.

-Bethany

Obadiah

“The day is near when I, the Lord, will judge all godless nations! As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you. All your evil deeds will fall back on your own heads.” Verse 15

We are so eager to be the authority on judgement or revenge and God is so eager to remind us that we are not.

The concept that the Lord will right every wrong and personally judge every heart should bring peace and humility. Not vindication. We are so quick to rub our hands together and imagine how great it will be when our enemies finally get paid back!

But the gospel tells us that we shouldn’t have enemies. And if we do, our behavior towards them should be marked by love.

Does God’s impending judgement on the world bring you anxiety?

We should all experience a healthy dose of fear about it, remembering our standings with the LORD. But it should prompt humility, compassion, quick forgiveness and grace, grace, grace, grace.

This message has been hemmed into every story in the Bible: God will have the final word. He’s sovereign. He’s trustworthy. Your life on earth is momentary, and a life with Christ is eternal!

I’m so thankful for the hope we have in Him.

-Carly

Hebrews 13 B

“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (15-16)

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.” (Psalm 150:6)

The conclusion of many matters is to praise the LORD. We praise Him with our words, but also in our service to others. It is our deepest fulfilled purpose to praise Him.

In these uncertain times there remain many ways to continue praising Him. It feeds the soul to turn our eyes from circumstance and onto His face. What does your worship of Him look like today?

Is it a centering prayer you pray in the midst of stress? Is it in the way your serve your immediate family, even when you’re overwhelmed?

Praising Him is called a sacrifice. What do you sacrifice to praise Him? Self pity? Rest? He is glorified in the ways we choose to serve, and the ways we choose to rest. He is looking for people to worship Him in truth.

Root yourself in truth today and every day, and while you still have breath, praise the LORD.

– Bethany

Tomorrow we will read Obadiah.

Hebrews 11-12 B

“By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death.” 11:33-35

As we wait out the pandemic, here’s a faith-boosting exercise:

-Read Hebrews 11 out loud. At the very least, read the above verses aloud. (I love the writing voice of whoever wrote Hebrews, it’s so powerful and creative!)

-Write down your story, summarized by what you have done “by faith”. What choices or decisions in your life mark your faith?

Notice that the author of Hebrews doesn’t describe faith as believing that everything will be fine. Faith is disregarding the fleeting desires of this life and prioritizing the eternal promises of the next.

What does practicing your faith look like right now? For me, it’s remembering that God is bigger than plagues, illness and fear. It’s claiming that my worst case scenario isn’t losing this life or the people in it. It’s leaning away from the world’s anxious presence and into His peaceful one.

This is a great time to take notice of how your faith holds up when it’s tested. I’m so thankful for a book of stories of people who have trusted God!

-Carly

Hebrews 9-10 B

“For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” (9:24)

Sometimes I feel like my greatest understanding of Jesus can only come through a mosaic who’s pieces I’m still slowly finding. Hebrews contains much of that, with the systematic development of His ranking being above Moses and Angels, His priesthood being more Melchizedek than Levite, and now His tabernacle being the original heavenly one Moses’ was based on.

My brain cannot contain all this at once. I’ve gotta look at it piece by piece, but we might get a good look at the big picture someday (who knows how eternity will roll that out).

“So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (9:28)

This verse reminded me of Jesus’ last words on the cross: “It is finished”. I think one of the most confusing concepts in Christian theology is the finished/dead doctrines concerning sin. It feels very much alive. Maybe it’s just because we live on a dying earth and we feel in ourselves a great tendency towards chaos.

This earth we live on is not “as it is in heaven”, which is why we are directed to pray for that. Just as the tabernacle was a tiny rendition of The LORD’s place of presence, we are living in a lessor reality.

What is true in heaven is more perfectly true than what we experience and surmise from our places on earth. Somehow, death has been defeated, it’s stinger removed. The next time Jesus comes it won’t be about sin? That seems odd, doesn’t it? But it’s what He’s been trying to tell us! He has made a way where there seemed to be no way. Where, O death, is your sting? He will come to bring Heaven and Earth once and for all. It’s reality will finally be the reality we experience.

Whoa.

-Bethany

 

Hebrews 7-8 B

“The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.” 7:28

I’m a big advocate of having a mentor. Someone older and wiser than you, someone further along in their faith, to speak into your life. Someone you confess to, someone who encourages you, buys you lunch and holds you accountable to the crappy behavior you’re prone to.

But your mentor, pastor or really godly friend cannot have a relationship with God for you. We are all responsible for our own standings with God.

We all have the best advocate and mediator possible, his Son. Jesus is perfect. He never misrepresents God’s love or gives bad advice or lets us down.

He’s our Moses, leading us through the wilderness and vouching for us when God has had enough of our complaining and idolatry.

He’s the perfect High Priest!

Who do you rely on for your relationship with God? Are you pressing into Jesus?

-Carly

Hebrews 5-6 B

“For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit promises.” (6:10-12)

The LORD’s lovingkindness endures forever. So much is overwhelmingly unknown right now, and it feels like there’s no going back to the way things were, but the LORD is faithful. He and His love has endured all things.

We might not know, but He knows. We might lose sight of ourselves, but He has not, and will not forget, every act of faith that has led to this point.

Do you feel abandoned? Do you feel ready to give up? Are you angry at God? Take time to remember His faithfulness. This is something we constantly repeat ourselves saying: Remembering His faithfulness is key to continuing in faithfulness.

What does that look like now? You don’t have to know. Ask Him! Embrace this moment of powerlessness or lack of control to choose humility, setting your eyes on Him.

-Bethany

Hebrews 3-4 B

“But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.” 3:3-4

Out of all the richness of today’s chapters, these verses grabbed my attention:

Mostly, I liked the reminder that we need to give God the credit for the things we love. We are so quick to worship the wrong things! Maybe it’s a person, or a hobby, or a landscape. Maybe it’s something you made with your own hands. Directing our praise and thanksgiving to God helps us practice being humble and deepens our love for Him.

The author of Hebrews is redirecting the readers worship and awe of Moses, back to Jesus. I’ve done that before. Instead of noticing the Christ-like qualities in someone, and allowing it to deepen my love for the Lord, I get side-tracked by the person and fan the flame of my people-pleasing and performing.

The one who built everything is God.

What is something you just love. Do you prop it up and idolize it instead of God?

How can you redirect yourself on that?

-Carly

Hebrews 1-2 B

“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” (2:10‬)

Jesus’ ability to relate to us is a major theme in this book. Unfortunately, a main feature of the human experience is suffering.

At even my young age, I feel my life is full-up on suffering, and I would like to side-step it as much as possible (can we say “avoid it like the plague” right now?).

I’m sure we all have our ways of self-preserving to avoid pain, but this is unfortunately the least Christ-like thing about us. He dove straight into our mess and suffered intensely. The implications of that will continue to unfold throughout the book of Hebrews.

What is your current “suffering”? What are you most afraid of?

I think everyone is pretty on edge right now, and I would strongly encourage everyone to not hide, medicate, or stress-eat the stockpile. Instead, bring theses worries to the LORD and discuss it with Him.

Spending a year in Italy by myself was confronting my greatest fear of isolation, alone with my thoughts! But what came out of that time was a deeper health in my soul. While everyone is in quarantine right now, press on to know the LORD and don’t be afraid to face your inner self, with Him.

Spend time quieting your mind to pray, and don’t forget that Jesus is at the right hand of the LORD, familiar with suffering, ready to intercede on our behalf.

-Bethany

Revelation 21-22 B

I remember panicking whenever they talked about Heaven in church. (Bethany touches on this in her post last time.) “We will get to worship God for the rest of eternity!” My mind would flicker back to the all-family worship services my church held quarterly. The ones that dragged on and on and were only survived by frequent bathroom trips, breath mints dug out of moms purse and tic tac toe games on the church bulletin. Please, this could not possibly be how we are spending eternity!

As I’ve continued to live my life following Christ, I’ve experienced lots of different kinds of worship and realized all the things I love about life are acts of worship. Eating a good meal. Listening to a really good story that points back to God’s goodness. Quality time with a companion. Snuggling a really excited puppy. Watching winter transition into spring. Seeing fog drag across the top of mountains. Serving other people because I love them. Receiving an act of service from someone because they love me. Harvesting vegetables out of the dirt. Watching my house plants twist towards the sunlight, no matter where I put them in the house. Being with God’s people. These all provide small moments of worship and leave my bones aching for an eternity of it all. Especially in the New Heavens, where pain, suffering, trauma, abandonment, abuse, neglect, theft, drought, anxiety, fear, scarcity, starvation, loneliness, panic, rejection, poverty, mourning and death will never exist.

We still have one more book left to read together, but the completion of Revelation feels like a good spot to reflect.

The Bible starts with creation and ends with the new creation. With lots of stories in between about Christ making things new in the meanwhile.

What book, chapter or verse really resonated with you? What did you learn about God?

What was something that left you really uncomfortable? What’s a question you have for Him? (And I encourage you to confront him with it! Don’t let that fester.)

Tomorrow we start Hebrews!

-Carly