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

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 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 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 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 19-20 B

So much of these chapters are so heavily debated it can be hard to know what to say about them.

What will the millennial kingdom look like? Will Jesus be on a literal horse? What does it mean that he’s the “Word of God”?

Something that’s always stood out to me about this millennial reign (whenever or however it is), is how at the end of it, Satan has an easy time forming a coupe. Even under the best government system and leader in the world, mankind will be itching to rebel.

I see that in myself and it’s so annoying. We’ve seen in recent days how some people have responded to this pandemic with generosity and thoughtfulness, while others have definitely been selfish and self-preserving. It’s good to be honest with ourselves about our tendencies toward evil.

Bring all that to the LORD, today. Be washed, redeemed and inspired. Obedience to Him is life. We could all use some life right now.

-Bethany

Revelation 15-16 B

These plagues are supposed to remind us of the exodus. Also, the hardened hearts (like Pharaoh’s) which don’t acknowledge God, even when He’s painfully obvious.

It’s a baffling and ballsy move, we humans regularly make, to defy God. Since the beginning, mankind took in their limited perspective and information and thought, “Mmmmm… I’ll be the judge of that.”

Playing the judge, or deciding whether or not to submit to Our Own Creator is the natural inclination making the least sense. We can admit we don’t see the full picture. We can acknowledge the limitations of our perspective or even sometimes own our bias, and still want to make the call. We want control.

Nothing like a global pandemic halting travel, crashing markets and closing public places to remind us of control. Reading about plagues right now packs a different punch. We’re at the mercy of God and each other. How’s that going to go? What do we have control over, besides ourselves and our own choice of reaction?

What sort of control issues do you struggle with? Does it give you peace or anxiety when you consider being at the mercy of God? Do you feel yourself getting stubborn like the folks in 16:9, or can you join this chorus?:

“Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.” (15:3-4‬)‬‬

-Bethany

Revelation 11-12 B

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” (11:15‬)

This verse gives me chills like no other, and this line of the Hallelujah Chorus makes me weepy every time.

When Jesus taught us to pray, He told us to pray: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Here we see the kingdoms becoming One and it’s incredible.

This is the dream, the vision, the goal, the climax, the finale and the prelude to the most magnificent era of human history.

What will the world look like when it’s been married to heaven and ruled by the LORD and His Christ (aka Jesus)?

What will it mean to be a citizen of that kingdom? What does it mean now, since Jesus said the Kingdom was at hand? People say, “already and not yet”. What does His Kingdom look like in you?

-Bethany

Revelation 7-8 B

Much of this book is references timeless cycles of human rebellion, judgement, salvation and restoration.

“Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” (7:3)

We just read in Ezekiel how the LORD had the people who mourned the idolatry in the temple marked before the destroyer came through. Time and time again, from Noah and Lot to the exodus and exile, the LORD knows how to save the righteous and judge the wicked.

I’m reminded of the story in 1 Kings 22, when the king of Israel, Ahab, convinces Jehoshaphat to come into battle with him, after a prophecy makes it clear Ahab will die. He dresses up Jehoshaphat as a deterrent, but the LORD is not fooled. He saves Jehoshaphat and causes a random, stray arrow to pierce the armor and disguise of Ahab as he hides in his chariot, slowing bleeding out.

These judgements in Revelation are reminiscent of the exodus plagues by design. A bloody lamb should also harken us back to that time in Israel’s history.

The LORD knows the hearts of mankind. He knows who is tender toward Him—grieved by what grieves Him—and who is hardened, like Pharaoh.

This doesn’t mean that those who follow the LORD will be free from pain. On the contrary, those around the throne are the ones who “came out of the great tribulation.”

“They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat;” (7:16)

Meaning, they endured quite a lot before their salvation was realized. It’s not about pain avoidance, it’s about Allegiance.

Where do we place hope and trust? What sort of safety hedges do we create for ourselves? What is sacrificed for the sake of those?

-Bethany

Revelation 3-4 B

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” (4:11‬)

After a few churches are chastised for going a pagan-inspired direction with worship, we are shown this scene in heaven. Our Creator God, the Eternal Almighty, is surrounded by 24 elders and those living creatures. They are making basic and true statements about Him, and throwing their own crowns at His feet.

We can really get into our heads about how we should worship the LORD, but it boils down to declaring the truth of Who He Is and remembering our place as His servants.

All our fanciest, most impressive achievements are nothing in light of Him. Any crown in life that anyone can ever earn, or even deserve, is best tossed at the feet of their Maker.

There are rainbows and lightning coming from His thrown, because why not? He created both those things and all the associated sciences. The living creatures worshipping Him have wings and multiple species’ faces, because why not? He created everything that lives.

Sometimes we can get in our own way, thinking we need someone with instruments to lead us into worship. All we really need is a moment to brush up on truth and reality. We need to declare the truth of who the Almighty God is, and we need to move in the reality of our humble position before Him.

How can you worship the LORD today? What is a crown you can throw at His feet?

-Bethany