If the Lord Wills…

Daily Scripture readings for March, set #9:

Jeremiah, chapters 19-22
Ecclesiastes 7:1-14
John 3:16-21
James 4:11-17

“Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods… which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind” (Jer 19:4-5). There are serious theological implications here. Are we to believe that Israel acted in ways that not only defied God’s commands, but also his decrees? Even more, did Israel actually do something that God in his omniscience did not foresee? Is that what this verse is teaching?

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other” (Eccl 7:14). Apparently we need not “be joyful” in the day of adversity, but only remember that this too comes from the hand of the Lord.

I memorized the famous John 3:16 when I was a child. This was helpful to me, but in a way it was also problematic… because I never knew the surrounding verses. For example, verse 18, which is an important companion: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that'” (Jam 4:13-15). This is one of those texts that NOBODY follows. I mean, we should, but we don’t.

Daily Scripture readings for March, set #10:

Jeremiah, chapters 23-25
Ecclesiastes 7:15-29
John 3:22-36
James 5:1-6

Not all who claim to speak for the Lord actually do: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord'” (Jer 23:16).

“Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others” (Eccl 7:21-22). This is one of those texts that reads so current, so relevant to my situation right now, that it’s hard to believe that it was written 2400 years ago.

“A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (Jn 3:27). I think this statement is true even if it stands alone apart from the context it’s found in, but John means it to be a step in an argument, which I think culminates in verse 30: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” The logic: Everything you have has been given to you, because it was never about you to begin with.

Today’s reading is a scathing warning to “the rich.” Think honestly and carefully about this… do you consider yourself part of “the rich?” Is this warning for you?

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