About Kathleen Petersen

I love digging around for scriptural nuggets of God’s truth with our devotional team and being amazed how many facets of meaning we discover. Thanks for reading!

As Good as Dead — Life in Small Spaces

We’ve been examining Romans 4 and how having children (or not) affects our sense of hope for a fruitful future. Today’s aspect of that future is old age and death.

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:19-21 ESV

For various reasons, people of faith might lose heart when facing advanced age: with no children to provide them with a sure legacy or safety net should they fall into a dependent or debilitating condition. How can someone in that situation avoid despair? Let’s first consider the elderly widow Anna, featured here when Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the temple with them:

There was also a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having been married to her husband for seven years until his death. She had lived as a widow since then for eighty-four years. She never left the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment, she came up to them and began to give thanks to God and to speak about the child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38 NET

Although this event highlights Anna’s holy occupation, I’ve often wondered where she ate and slept.  Did she sleep in a small space or even outdoors? Was she viewed as an outcast?

This brings me to the topic of elderly, and/or incapacitated people living in small spaces in facilities called “assisted living” or “nursing homes”. Since I’ve observed my mother and mother-in-law in those facilities, I comprehend why many people dread them. They are usually a final destination for the “good as dead”. What if you face such a destiny? How should you prepare?

I remember Gladyce who turned her last days on earth in my mother’s Nebraska nursing home into a holy occupation. Gladyce married late, her husband passed away, and she had no children. When she was in her mid 80s, she could no longer walk or live alone because of a hip issue. She had been a Christian for many years, and her determination to make the most of the rest of her life was undeniable.

Gladyce chose to share her small, sparsely furnished room with a blind lady who needed her company. Gladyce had also organized a dining room group (of other elderly women living in the facility, whose minds were still sharp), leading daily discussions of current events and faith topics. Those discussions eased the boredom that sets in after entering such an environment.

Gladyce also kept a stash of trinkets and candy for children. When my 5 year old daughter accompanied me for visits with my mother, she’d make a beeline to Gladyce’s room for a long chat. Other residents reached out, desperate to touch my daughter, but Gladyce’s thoughtful plans drew my child to her.


Although those such as Anna and Gladyce who are in the habit of praying for and giving to others are never “as good as dead”, not every elderly person with no spouse or children has developed a servant heart like Anna or Gladyce. Some, like my mother, suffer from dementia or other conditions that severely diminish capabilities they once exhibited.

Let’s guard against increasing cultural pressures to view the elderly or incapacitated (including ourselves) as excess baggage or “as good as dead” Take a look at present and oncoming pressures to end seemingly unproductive lives. Ask Jesus to search your heart and show you his mind on these matters. This long article tracing the evolution of Canada’s MAID law alongside official church views of the law may inform that search. This map shows the advance of those ideas in the U.S.

As Good as Dead — Life in Small Spaces2023-05-20T12:14:53-06:00

Aspirations for Our Children

Just recently I heard of two high school seniors who received long awaited news about applications to their desired institutions of higher learning. Although they had worked hard and met the many goals it took to qualify, the results were not the ones they or their parents hoped for. There was a time I might have sent this condolence:

“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”

The above phrase was likely derived from the verse below. However, the word used in Romans 8 is “purpose” rather than “plan”. For me, that word choice makes a vast difference. God’s “purpose” does not limit him to a rigid set of worldly goals or “plans” to guide us where he wants us to go.

…we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose… Romans 8:28 NET

As parents, it has sometimes been a challenge for my husband and I, not only to encourage our daughter to follow Jesus, but also for us to avoid taking the role of the Holy Spirit in determining her precise vocation. The following story in the lives of Abraham and Sarah reminds me that we are not alone in discerning where our responsibility lies.

If you want to fully understand the event highlighted below, the backstory is found in Genesis chapters 11-20. Like many of us, Abraham and Sarah fumbled some crucial faith decisions. The result was that Abraham ended up with a spare slave wife (Hagar) as well as a spare, surrogate, older son (Ishmael). By the time Abraham and Sarah had the son God promised (Isaac), Abraham had invested a preponderance of his fatherly affection, energy, and training on his surrogate son.

The child [Isaac] grew and was weaned. Abraham prepared a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah noticed the son of Hagar the Egyptian—the son whom Hagar had borne to Abraham—mocking. So she said to Abraham, “Banish that slave woman and her son, for the son of that slave woman will not be an heir along with my son Isaac!”

Sarah’s demand displeased Abraham greatly because Ishmael was his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be upset about the boy or your slave wife. Do all that Sarah is telling you because through Isaac your descendants will be counted. But I will also make the son of the slave wife into a great nation, for he is your descendant too.” Genesis 21:8-13 NET

This part of their story reflects how the dreams of all human parents for their children can get out of focus. Just as Abraham had developed a strong, emotional attachment to Ishmael and envisioned his destiny, we too might hope God will meet our aspirations for a treasured child.

As Christian parents, we are both responsible and privileged to take the primary role in providing Godly guidance and care for our children in their formative years. But the Holy Spirit independently confirms his destiny for our adult children. Still, parents are called to pray for their children as well as provide influence toward God’s purpose for them. Ultimately parents must trust God for the outcome even if, at times, the path of an adult child appears dubious.

Do you have a treasured child, now an adult, in whom you have invested a significant amount of your emotional energy? Has that individual not yet met your estimate of their kingdom potential? That person may not be your biological child, but your affection may be strong. Focus on a photo of him or her as you pray for that person’s place in God’s kingdom. Ask God to give you his peace.

Aspirations for Our Children2023-05-11T16:07:45-06:00

Instruction to Wives

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24 NIV

Christian wives of all classes, cultures, and centuries have taken these words to heart since the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write them to wives in the Church in Ephesus nearly 2,000 years ago. Over much of Church history, Christian wives and their husbands have most often understood the above verses as an unequivocal command. Even so, wives careful to observe this command have worked it out in a variety of ways. Likewise, husbands have been eager to evaluate their wives’ efforts. In addition, these three verses have even been used to imply that all women are subject to all men. Whew!

In my lifetime, the status of women has grown in Western culture. As a result, Christians with high regard for scripture have been prompted to examine this passage more closely. Some choose to stand firm in the straightforward interpretation. Others have brought in scriptures that provide nuance to those interpretations, enabling God’s grace to soften the tone.

Regardless of your approach to Paul’s strong guidance for wives in verses 22-24, his language is equally robust in its full context (Ephesians 5:20-33 NIV). When both husbands and wives set aside their feelings to surrender their prerogatives to Christ, this passage provides a reliable rudder for marriage stability whether spouses are navigating smooth or choppy waters.

Elsewhere Paul implies that Christ’s honor is at stake in Christian marriage. Therefore the specific directive to wives to submit to their husbands should not accommodate a husband’s blatant disobedience to the Word of God or require tolerance of undeniable abuse. In such situations, a wife must obey the Word of God in confronting her husband’s demands to the contrary. In certain circumstances, Godly support or intervention from other wise Christians may be advisable.

The intention of these verses is to frame a picture of the love, blessings, and security that are possible in Biblical marriages and families. God invites each husband and wife to join him in painting a Godly and personalized picture of their marriage. Like all passages of scripture, verses 22-24 must be understood in their immediate context as well as the entirety of scripture. Our forever goal is to grow in our familiarity with the character of Jesus and bring glory to his name.

Many resources are available to address the weighty concerns that have grown up around misinterpretations of verses 22-24. Have patience that the Lord will instruct you as you keep researching these scriptures. Be gracious to and pray for those who struggle in their marriages. Be aware of confusion around this issue (that exists for more than a few contemporary Christians), as you read this article by former faith deconstructionist Sarabeth Caplin.

Instruction to Wives2023-05-06T23:51:56-06:00

Shattered Relationships

When I saw the following inscription on a jar containing Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses which were displayed on the desk of the HR Administrator in my workplace, it resonated with me: “Easy Answers”.

Most of us hope for easy answers to life’s most rewarding but complicated relationships. Those of us eager to please God search for techniques promising certain spiritual success. But sometimes, what we imagined to be God’s perfect plan goes awry. In the following passage Jesus gave us not only God’s ideal, but his way of grace when that ideal is shattered.

Then some Pharisees came to him in order to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

…Now I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-6, 9 NET

This “seeming” contradiction prompts a question: After presenting such a high view of God’s design for marriage in verses 3-6, was Jesus advocating a lesser view of marriage in verse 9? Let’s take a closer look at that verse.

It’s clear verse 9 doesn’t command divorce when a husband (or wife) has been betrayed and damaged by a spouse’s immoral sexual behavior. Instead, Jesus’ answer provides a way to relief and restoration for those who will suffer even more damage if there is no remedy. But that restorative path is never easy.

Maybe you are seeking easy answers from Jesus about the complex moral issues of our day. As Creator and sustainer of our world, Jesus has viewed the full spectrum of immorality and has spoken with surprising clarity in many areas. These issues are of grave concern to him. Take a look at this ancient state of affairs:

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. Genesis 6:5-6 ESV

Here’s the way God handled his grief and disappointment:

So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Genesis 6:7 ESV

Reading further, God manifested his grace when he spared Noah and his immediate family along with a small group of animals so life on earth could continue – not an easy solution. Thank God for his grace.

I invite you to be even more specific in your gratitude. Give thanks that Jesus has provided betrayed spouses a reprieve from domestic landscapes shattered by unrepentant, sexual immorality. In addition, thank him for providing the Holy Spirit’s power to forgive repentant wrongdoers. Meditate on this phrase:

“Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Matthew 6:10 ESV

Shattered Relationships2023-04-29T23:34:40-06:00

Unless the LORD Builds the House

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:1-5 ESV

This Psalm is at the center of the 15 Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) sung by Jewish pilgrims making their way up to Jerusalem’s heights to celebrate one of the three main harvest festivals of Israel. It is the only Psalm of Ascent written by Solomon.

The phrase “builds the house” raises common images of either a physical, residential structure or of a flourishing, extended family. The hearts of the early pilgrims also might have anticipated an experience similar to the one that occurred in Solomon’s Temple just after it was finished:

And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. I Kings 8:10-11 ESV

Note the words and phrases: “Unless the LORD”, “he gives”, “a reward”, “Blessed” and “He shall not be put to shame” – they highlight the sovereignty and protection of God over his people and his generosity to them. I imagine sizable, extended families of pilgrims pausing to dance and shout as they sang this psalm in anticipation of their arrival in the Holy City to worship at the House of the Lord.

But it’s also likely a few of them experienced moments of reflection and sobriety as the words “in vain” and “anxious toil” reminded them of failures to trust the adequate provision of their majestic God.

Psalm 127 reminds us that we are not the sole architects of our spiritual walk, nor can we generate strength to bring that walk to fruition. His indwelling Spirit is ever alert to guide and empower us to carry out his earthly assignments and bring us to our longed for destination — his glorious, unrestrained presence.

As you listen to Psalm 127 set to music, give God the vulnerability and failures you’ve experienced in projects and relationships as well as your struggles to build a desirable spiritual life. Dance, or just raise your hands, as you anticipate his guidance and power in your circumstances.

Unless the LORD Builds the House2023-04-22T20:07:05-06:00

From the Beginning It Was Not This Way

Every culture has ‘hot button’ issues from a persistent set of controversies existing in all cultures and time periods – especially those involving marriage and sexual ethics. These concerns touch some of our deepest longings and conflicts.

In the historical period just prior to and during Jesus’ public ministry, there were sharp disputes about marriage and divorce between two leading teachers of Judaism. These disputes took place between the school of Hillel the Elder (having a lenient interpretation of scripture) and Shammai and his school (with a more strict interpretation).

In Matthew 19:1-15 the Pharisees asked Jesus a question about divorce that reflected these disputes. When they asked him to interpret Deuteronomy 24:1-4, they were testing Jesus against these preeminent teachers. The Deuteronomy passage begins:

If a man marries a woman and she does not please him because he has found something indecent in her, then he may draw up a divorce document, give it to her, and evict her from his house. Deuteronomy 24:1 NET

Although Jesus’ complete answer in Matthew 19:1-15 is most like Shammai’s view, Jesus redirected his answer to the core of the dispute by revealing a hidden reason men sought religious permission to divorce their wives:

Jesus said to them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts, but from the beginning it was not this way. Matthew 19:8 NET

What a remarkable insight about hard heartedness — how it evokes passages in Genesis which reveal God’s original design for marriage. This answer seemed either to satisfy or silence Jesus’ examiners.

It’s worth discovering or exploring again what Jesus meant when he said “from the beginning it was not this way”. In the middle of heated arguments between present day religious experts, Jesus is still the master of marriage and sexual ethics.

Are you frustrated with contemporary tales of tangled, broken relationships or even ones of your own making? It might be refreshing to observe less complicated relationships in the natural world of animals. Spring is here. Birds and other animals are pairing up. Take a walk or drive to a place where you can spot their activities. If you can’t get outside, watch a nature program. Meditate on the timeless simplicity God shows you, and take your frustrations to him in prayer.

From the Beginning It Was Not This Way2023-04-17T08:11:36-06:00

Bugs on the Windshield

Over the years, I’ve made several summer car trips back to my hometown in central Nebraska. A couple of these trips occurred after nightfall. Once my car crossed the line into Nebraska (once from Iowa and once from Colorado), a barrage of bugs began pelting my windshield creating a thick layer of muck. After turning the wiper blades up to the highest speed for 10 minutes and depleting the washer fluid, I had to stop my car. I was driving by faith, not by sight. These experiences were so long ago, I don’t remember what happened next – but God must have given me a way to clear the slurry, because I arrived at my destination alive with no mishaps.

If you’ve been soldiering through the book of Jeremiah with us and are now entering Chapter 32, you will find Jeremiah placed in a minimum security prison by King Zedekiah because he opposed the king’s resistance to the ongoing and final siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The prophet’s perspective had become as messy as a myriad of bugs hitting his windshield. He was dazed and needed encouragement but didn’t anticipate the exercise God had in mind.

Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.’” Jeremiah 32:6-7 NET

The field God commanded Jeremiah to buy had already been taken by the Babylonians, so such a purchase would have been incredibly stupid by human standards. Jeremiah needed further confirmation to make this purchase as it was of no personal benefit to him.

Then Hanamel, my cousin, came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. Jeremiah 32:8 NET

After Jeremiah recorded this deal, he was still shaky about the wisdom of what he’d just done. He needed to refresh his vision of who God has always been and forever will be:

“After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord, saying: ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts, great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds….

What you spoke has come to pass, and behold, you see it.’ Jeremiah 32:16-19, 24b NET

Although the land transaction was ridiculous, God revealed Jeremiah’s purchase would stand as a statement of faith that future generations would return to the land. However, the Lord had to AGAIN reassure Jeremiah this was his command.

Yet you, O Lord God, have said to me, “Buy the field for money and get witnesses” — though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans.’”

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:25-27 NET

Has a barrage of bugs been hitting your windshield lately? Does it seem God is allowing worthwhile foundations to crumble and is issuing permits to those who intend to trample his people? Let Jeremiah’s vision and confession be yours as well:

‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.’ Jeremiah 32:17

Here are more scriptures to renew your vision of who our Lord Jesus is, what he has promised and where his faithful servants are headed:
Hebrews 1, Revelation 5, 20, and 21.

Bugs on the Windshield2023-04-01T23:21:08-06:00

Lament – the Road to Surrender

During this Lenten season, we’ve been looking at the calamitous prophecies of Jeremiah. The persistent and ungrateful rejection of God and his ways by the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem made it impossible for them to escape impending disaster. This week our focus has been Jeremiah 6-9.

As a parallel to Jeremiah’s lament, I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ week-long “Road to Jerusalem”. Matthew 23 contains Jesus’ intense rebuke of religious leaders during that time frame. It begins:

…woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites!

Jesus ended his assessment of these leaders with this lament:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23:37-39 ESV

He used the same words during that week with different additions in these laments, Luke 13:33-35 and Luke 19:41-44.

Jesus made many pointed overtures to these religious leaders during and prior to his public ministry. Their acceptance of Jesus as the longed for Messiah should have begun at Luke 2:46-47. They should have appreciated and pursued the twelve year old prodigy for his unmistaken understanding and answers to life’s most profound questions. Instead they ignored and persecuted him.

The rejection of Jesus’ messages, miracles, and the leaders’ disdain of his rightful claim for the worship from all mankind, is at the core of all lament. Let’s try to enter into the deep sadness God endures as humans reject his words, care, and support.

Look at Jesus’ final lament (Matthew 23:37-39) before his surrender to the ordeal of the Cross. Recall the catastrophic second fall of Jerusalem and demolition of the second temple – just as Jesus sorrowfully foretold in his Luke 19:41-44 lament above.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” Psalm 2:1-3 ESV

  • Lament the brokenness of the world around us.
  • Lament your own brokenness.
  • Let it soak in that: rejection of Jesus’ sacrifice and message is deeply personal to him.
  • BONUS PRACTICE: Read or listen to Psalm 85 as you pray for the hope of restoration of future generations, asking the Holy Spirit to move hearts to surrender fully to him for fulfillment of his promises.
Lament – the Road to Surrender2023-03-19T14:57:38-06:00

Open the Cage

As Americans, we seem obsessed with the concept of freedom from constraints. But how should Jesus’ followers practice freedom? Free to do what? Free to indulge our own desires, or free to obey and serve the one true God and those he has created?

In Jeremiah 5, the prophet gave a harsh description of the inhabitants of Judah. They had let their desires run amok – greedy to indulge themselves. Although poor and rich alike gave way to pleasure, the clever acted like fowlers – caging their fellow citizens like birds.

Indeed, there are wicked scoundrels among my people.
They lie in wait like bird catchers hiding in ambush.
They set deadly traps to catch people.
Like a cage filled with the birds that have been caught,
their houses are filled with the gains of their fraud and deceit.
That is how they have gotten so rich and powerful.
That is how they have grown fat and sleek.
There is no limit to the evil things they do.
They do not plead the cause of the fatherless in such a way as to win it.
They do not defend the rights of the poor. Jeremiah 5:26-28 NET

In my earlier years, I lived with a family in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a wealthy suburb located on the western border of our nation’s capital. I observed crosstown buses disgorging large groups of older, black women, each weekday morning. They cleaned houses for the wealthy and returned each evening to the poor side of the city. I had conversations with friends who came from other countries to act as au pair nannies to children of the affluent – for little pay to undergo near captivity. These inequities upset me.

Similar employment inequities came to national attention during a scandal called “Nannygate”. Although the talented, ambitious people involved were poised to assume high office in Washington, D.C., their opportunities vanished when their egregious employment schemes were reported. Did that unmasking prompt legislation ending the practice of taking advantage of vulnerable people for difficult and dirty tasks? Sadly, even if laws are enacted to curtail such oppression of the poor by the clever, they seem to have a built-in “whack-a-mole” feature.

So should we give up on stemming the tide of these injustices? As followers of Christ, how can we act to guard ourselves against the all-too-human inclination to cage others into service for our own ends? I suggest we do what Jesus’ followers have always done when social and political systems seem irretrievably corrupt. Ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and hearts to care for one person at a time.

Application: Practice generosity as a stopgap for greed.

If you already have ongoing relationships with those God has been calling you to serve – simply continue or expand those relationships – no guilt trips please. If someone whose cage needs opening comes to mind, try a dignifying “hand up” approach rather than a one-time, dismissive “handout”.

If you haven’t reached your full capacity for serving those in need, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to someone unlikely to be spotlighted for help. Don’t seek publicity, payback or a tax write-off for yourself. Give attention to non-monetary ways to care.

Open the Cage2023-03-11T10:18:55-07:00

We’re in This Together

During this time of year, some Christians choose to observe the tradition of Lent, a season of penitence (heart change – not re-salvation) and fasting (reflecting Jesus’ 40 days in the Wilderness). This tradition was developed over the centuries as a formal, united way of remembering and venerating the key event of human history – Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

If you’ve chosen to observe Lenten practices, it seems wise to aim for more than abstaining from luxurious treats or pleasurable habits, to break ties with selfish pursuits. An additional benefit might be: heightened awareness that Jesus’ Kingdom community spans past, present, and future.

During Lent, our local church body is searching the prophecies of Jeremiah to gain deeper insight into the reason for this season. Here’s how the Lord begins his address to the nation of Judah in chapter 2. Notice references to a range of generations.

…. This is what the Lord says: “I have fond memories of you, how devoted you were to me in your early years. I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, through a land that had never been planted.” Jeremiah 2:2 NET

This is what the Lord says: What fault could your ancestors have possibly found in me that they strayed so far from me?
They paid allegiance to worthless idols, and so became worthless to me. They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord who delivered us out of Egypt?’”
Jeremiah 2:5-6a NET

“So, once more I will state my case against you,” says the Lord.
“I will also state it against your children and grandchildren.” Jeremiah 2:9 NET

Like me, you may drift into the “just me and God” approach that is almost automatic when considering fasting, reflecting, and gaining greater intimacy with him. Constant exposure to our individualistic culture causes us to forget the Holy Spirit has inextricably linked us to an eternal multitude of other loyal members of his Kingdom. God makes no allowances for “Lone Ranger” Christianity. Jesus followers have been, are, and will be affected by the actions and attitudes of each other.

In Jeremiah 3, we find a prescribed prayer of repentance for the nation of Judah (God’s chosen Kingdom of that time).
Notice its corporate nature.

Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us.
We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our ancestors;
from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 3:25 NIV

The word picture below, included in my devotional last week, may provide additional understanding:

…my people have committed a double wrong:
They have rejected me, the fountain of life-giving water, and they have dug cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns that cannot even hold water. Jeremiah 2:13 NET

God’s desire isn’t just to turn us from the selfish pursuit of digging our own cisterns. Only our Lord can dig deep wells in our hearts and fill them with his fountain of life-giving water. Only he can repair subsequent “leaks” in our hearts as we fully embrace his ways. The secure heart-cisterns crafted by him are individual; but a filling with his life-giving water is common to all who trust him. As believers throughout time fully committed to him, all of us benefit – we’re in this together.

Consider this motto of the 300 Moravians who, after an emotional revival in 1727, took God’s refilling seriously and became renowned for 100 years of continuous, corporate prayer:

“None of us liveth unto himself”

The Moravians’ devotion to prayer and each other undergirded amazing advances of the Gospel.
During this season, if you’ve considered fasting or abstaining from a personal luxury or habit in hope that his Spirit will overflow both in your life and the lives of others, here are straightforward and familiar scriptures you can apply. Give special attention to corporate and individual themes as well as promised rewards.

How to enter fasting (hint: led by the Spirit)



We’re in This Together2023-03-04T14:32:37-07:00
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