Holding on in Hope

Day 298 Jeremiah 48:1-49:22; 2 Timothy 4:1-22; Psalm 95:1-96:13; Proverbs 26:9-12

Holding on in Hope

If there was an Old Testament writer who saw things at their very best, it was Solomon. Nonetheless, he knew how upside-down life is this side of the Fall: fools pass off “wisdom” that should be marked “DANGER – FLAMMABLE!” (Prov. 26:9). Jeremiah saw things at their very Old-Testament-worst when, in exile for her sin, Israel came to know what it was to be a laughingstock among the nations (Jer. 48:16). At the end of an amazing career of launching the gospel in Europe, Paul writes his last words in prison (again!) for the Gospel. He tastes as much emotional pain from friends who have deserted him (2 Tim. 4:16) as he does antagonism from the “lions” who seek to destroy him (4:17). How do you not lose hope? You remember that God has always shown patience that outlasts His anger. Psalm 95 calls on Israel to let the years of rebellion stay in the past (v. 8-11) and live joyfully in the presence of His shepherding care. You remember that God is always working a plan that will see perfect equilibrium established (Ps. 96:10), through the coming of that psalm’s promised King (v. 10,13). You recall that God promises that one day He will both restore faithless Israel and also heal the prideful nations through whom He has judged His people (Jer. 48:47; 49:2,6). Finally, you recall that Paul held out for himself – and for all who “long for Christ’s appearing” – the hope for “the crown of righteousness” from the Righteous Judge (2 Tim. 4:8). There is always cause to keep holding on in hope! Reggie Kidd The Cathedral Church of St. Luke Orlando, FL

God’s Perseverance

Day 297 Jeremiah 44:24-47:7; 2 Timothy 2:22-3:17; Psalm 94:1-23; Proverbs 26:6-8

God’s Perseverance

Have you ever thought about God’s perseverance in trying to woo a people who so often turned away and rejected Him? In Jeremiah, the Hebrews who were living in Egypt had rejected God and begun worshiping the “Queen of Heaven.” There was a temple to Yahweh and His supposed consort (wife) Anath in the Egyptian city of Elephantine. It had begun to make sense to the Jews living among other pagan religions that the Hebrew God would have a wife like the other gods, and if He did, then that wife should be honored as well. It seems no one had inquired of God what He thought, and they worshiped a god of their own making to their own destruction. Time and again God would call His people to turn to Him and be saved but they would not. In spite of this, God never gave up. He poured out His wrath on the nations who had turned Judah’s head like a protecting father or husband. He allowed His people to suffer the consequences of their actions and then called them back into a relationship after their rebellion had been dealt with. This is the God who cares about us so much that He reveals to us the best way to live and gives His God-breathed love letters for us to get to know Him and follow Him. In spite of our disobedience, God has remained faithful. How will you respond to so great a love? The Rev. Paul Head St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Winter Haven, FL

Praise Him

Day 296 Jeremiah 42:1-44:23; 2 Timothy 2:1-21; Psalm 92:1-93:5; Proverbs 26:3-5

Praise Him

I had the honor and privilege of attending New Beginnings 101 a couple of weeks ago. It was a very powerful weekend designed to help middle school youth learn about the unconditional love of Jesus. One of the highlights of the weekend was when the praise band played. They had us all on our feet joyfully singing praises to our God for who He is and what He does. For me, Psalm 92 captures the feeling of praise and thanksgiving... a joy of knowing and giving glory to God. Have you ever noticed that when we enter into a state of praise to God it often helps us to feel better? In this Psalm, you almost feel the joy of the author as he praises God for His mighty works. Is there anything better to reflect on? And did you notice the subtitle of the Psalm, “A Song for the Sabbath”? What better day to sing the praises of our God than on the Lord’s Day. However, we do not have to wait for the Sabbath to praise the Lord. Today, right now, stop and recall God’s mighty works in your life and take a moment to praise Him. You could simply praise Him for the beauty of creation. You could praise Him for His saving grace in bringing you to salvation. Praise Him in prayer and in song… Make a joyful noise to the Lord. As the Psalmist writes, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord…”  Bless the Lord! The Rev. Deke Miller Camp Wingman Central Florida

No Room for Timidity

Day 295 Jeremiah 39:1-41:18; 2 Timothy 1:1-18; Psalm 90:1-91:16; Proverbs 26:1-2

No Room for Timidity

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he encourages Timothy to follow his example and be aware of the responsibility he assumes to carry on the Word and the Gospel. He emphasizes that we should not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord but join with him in suffering for the Gospel. What is our responsibility toward the Gospel? Is this ministry only for the ordained, or do all Christians have a responsibility? Paul reminds us: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline, Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me” (1 Timothy 1:7-8). Most of us are bold in things of the world in business or social interactions. We do not hesitate to make bold moves to protect our interests in this arena. But when it comes to revealing our faith in the simple words of, “God bless you,” “Jesus loves you,” or “God is good,” we only say those to other known Christians. Have we become so timid in the faith? Paul is speaking to all of us to measure our faith in proclaiming the Gospel not only with our deeds but with our lips, and to abandon timidity. We cannot do anything through our works to gain salvation. That was given to us by God’s grace through Jesus Christ who abolished death. Don’t think this means that we shouldn’t do good works. When we reach out to others with care and concern, it is because we are so grateful to God for His gift of salvation through His Son that we feel compelled to share that blessing. Let us continue to do all the good works for our fellow man, but also shoulder the responsibility to proclaim the gospel to him. In this way, all may come to know Christ and be resurrected in Him. Norma Ragsdale St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Lake Mary, FL