Dear Lord, it’s easy to get caught up in the other stories in this world, especially the stories that are trying to push their way into our lives. Thank you for reminding me of the story you’re telling, the story of hope, of life, of promise. Thank you that even when things seem overwhelming the story isn’t over and you’re still at work. I mourn the times I’ve disobeyed and I ask for your help in walking in rhythm with you each day. I pray for those in my life, that you will walk with them, fill them with your Spirit. Help me to see the world as you see it, to respond as you want me to respond, to hold onto the hope and to pursue peace-making love in every part of my life. It is only in your power that I can do this. Thank you for inviting me into this new kind of life and giving me the Spirit to live this out each day. Amen.
1. Psalm 106
2. Reading through Jeremiah 1-13
There’s a great quote in the movie Joe vs the Volcano that has stuck with me for years: “My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.” I think this is true and there’s something about the Spirit’s work that wakes us up and gets us to see. What if, however, we are wakened and sees that everyone is sleepwalking into death, caught in patterns of destruction, and don’t know it, can’t understand it. What does the awake person do? What do they say?
Jeremiah is awake. He is given a glimpse of God’s work and sees how what everyone is doing is fighting against that work. He speaks. He has to! Even though things get bad and worse, he’s compelled to shake the world up and try to get it to hear. His role is to speak, to describe, to entice people into getting out of their slumber and daze. God is active now, he’s not waiting forever, and calls the people to listen. God doesn’t like death. God doesn’t hate people. But God does hate that which leads to death and God hates when people indulge in these patterns.
So, he moves to correct the problems. And once again this means discipline. The prophets, after all, aren’t in the business of telling everyone they’re alright as they are and to keep doing what they’re doing. God doesn’t need to intervene for that. No, the prophets are the woke ones telling other people, “Wake up!” God will put the situation right, and there’s an easy way (obedience) and a hard way (suffering), and doesn’t surprise the people about what is happening. They don’t have excuses.
Neither do we.
3. Reading Through Acts 16-19
Paul the apostle is considered one of the most important missionaries of all time. It’s easy to idealize his life, if we don’t read Acts, that is. He had some amazing experiences, miracles that literally rocked the world. Yet, he also had trials at every turn, and sometimes very severe frustrations. Yet, these weren’t signs Paul was off track, rather they were signs he was getting the message to where it needed to go and there was pushback. That’s the thing with the Bible, we can’t generalize why someone is going through hard times or why we can’t seem to catch a break. We have to have look deeper and see how each situation is being used by God. For Paul, the message of Christ was providing life to some, but confronting others. That’s what Jesus does, after all. And Paul, above all things, was preaching Christ. Can you summarize the message he taught?
It’s also easy, when we only breeze through reading the Bible, to think one thing happened right after another, that Paul was always on the move. But notice the time spent in these chapters. It’s easy to miss, but important to notice, because if we think everything needs to be done fast we actually lose a sense of how God is working in a patient ferment of transformation. Paul was asked to keep speaking, to not get discouraged, to be flexible with what the Spirit was doing, and to live out his life in obedience to the Spirit’s leading, not his own vision of what needed to happen.
And here we are, 2000 years later and half a world away, still reading about what he did and what he said. His words resonate from then and there to here and now. That’s what the Spirit does. What is the Spirit calling you to do? What is the Spirit calling you to say? Don’t be silent.
4. Psalm 107
If you’ve fallen behind in the readings or haven’t started yet, don’t worry. Reading the Bible isn’t a limited time offer. Jump in this week, and catch up with what you’ve missed in future years.
I highly encourage you to share your thoughts with others in your family, or immediate community. Talk about this stuff!
Since I sometimes feel lonely, share your thoughts in the comment section.
Talking about your thoughts and questions is a very important part of the reading goal. Writing out our thoughts can help us remember what we read and keep our minds on the passage.
It helps to share as we learn from each other.
Our questions or confusion can bring us together, as we highlight what others may have missed or address what a lot of us are also wondering. Don’t feel like you have to say or write a lot, or feel pressure to be profound. Respond with honesty and openness.
Just jump right in where you’re at, knowing that Christ invites you to respond without pressure or anxiety. It’s a journey not a performance.