23Am I a God near by, says the Lord, and not a God far off? 24Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord. 25I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, “I have dreamed, I have dreamed!” 26How long? Will the hearts of the prophets ever turn back—those who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? 27They plan to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, just as their ancestors forgot my name for Baal. 28Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? says the Lord. 29Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Reflection: The word of the LORD is like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces. What an interesting metaphor for God’s powerful proclamations. But is it a destructive metaphor? Does the word of the LORD come to tear us apart? No, the word of the LORD comes to tear apart the hardness that can form, like stone, around our heart, soul, and mind. Consider the geode in the image above. On the outside are layers and layers of sediment that have built up a defense of solid rock over the long, long years. On the inside, however, are beautiful, colorful crystals, not to mention intricate patterns in the cross-section of the rock. To get inside to these beautiful treasures, one must hammer away at the whole rock in a manner that might seem at first to be destructive. The word of the LORD is waiting to burst through your defenses today to reveal the beauty and treasure within you.
- Tuesday, August 9 – Acts 23
- Wednesday, August 10 – Acts 24
- Thursday, August 11 – Acts 25
- Friday, August 12 – Acts 26
- Saturday, August 13 – Acts 27
- Sunday, August 14 – Acts 28
- Monday, August 15 – Proverbs 1
Prayer Focus: Our lives are filled with straw and wheat – wheat to nourish us and straw that brings to us nothing of substance. Ask God this week to consume the straw in your life. Pray for strength to fast from the meaningless, trivial things of life. Trust God to bring forth a great harvest of nourishing wheat within you by giving yourself, your time, and your energy to the nurturing elements of life. As you pray, ask God to use the increase within you to help feed the souls of others. Pray that God will reveal new ways to you in which you can clear the straw out of your own life and out of the community in which you live.
Meditation Focus: Our Scripture passage addresses the problem of prophets who claimed to speak for God but who only spoke for themselves. Take a moment to sit in the silence. Without a doubt, certain words and thoughts will begin to take voice in your mind. Many are distractions. Some are reflective of your own thoughts, ideas, prejudices, and biases. Some, though, might just be the words of God trying to speak life into you. Listen for each mental utterance, grab hold of it in your mind’s eye, and imagine yourself following the whisper like a string back to the source of the thought. Continue to do this until you find one thought that leads you back to the mouth of God. What is God trying to say to you today. Sit with that thought, discard the rest, and listen as God speaks life into you. God is speaking. Are you listening?
Journaling Focus: God asks a question in the opening verse of our weekly Scripture: “Am I a God near by and not a God far off?” How would you answer this question? Take some time this week to write about your answer to that question. Has God ever seemed far off? Why do you think this was? Has God ever seemed near? How did you know? Where does God seem to you now – near or far off? What might you do to connect to God in the intimacy of nearness? God wants to be close to you – so, what is it that fills the distance in between you and God?
Breath Prayer: Father, break apart our defenses.