The 40-Day Bible Challenge: What Are You Putting Your Hope In Other Than God?

Margaret —  March 18, 2013 — 14 Comments

HOPE

I confess.

Of all the weeks of The 40-Day Bible Reading Challenge during Lent this proved the most difficult to me. When reading Lamentations felt like a breath of fresh air, I knew I was in trouble. [Tweet this]

To put it in running terms, I felt like I hit the wall—that moment when you’re weary, tired, and don’t think you can take another step. This week’s reading included Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel (along with Lamentations)—all of which are long, thick, dense books packed with mysterious prophetic imagery and references.

If Leviticus and Numbers felt like plodding, Jeremiah and Ezekiel felt like slogging. Heavy. Cumbersome. Tedious.

Yet I kept catching glimpses of God’s heart.

God’s passion for holiness.

God’s unending love.

God’s fervent call to come back to Him.

The word that caught my attention again and again was the word HOPE. And the command: The only thing to hang our hope hat on is God. [Tweet this]

Isaiah 19 declares, “Everyone who has put hope in Ethiopia and expected help from Egypt will be thrown into confusion…… And we thought they were our best hope, that they’d rescue us from the king of Assyria. Now what’s going to happen to us? How are we going to get out of this?’”

The prophets expose that when we put our hope in anything other than God we are not only lost, we are losing our minds. [Tweet this] Nations nor armies nor idols will save us.

Isaiah 44:20 offers a particularly sharp-tongued examination of what it looks like when we place our trust in idols (aka anything other than God).

“This lover of emptiness, of nothing, is so out of touch with reality, so far gone, that he can’t even look at what he’s doing, can’t even look at the no-god stick of wood in his hand and say, “This is crazy.”

The irony is that God uses crazy displays to expose our craziness. The prophets call us back to God using wild displays including smashing clay pots (Jeremiah 19), baskets of figs (Jeremiah 24), and even the carrying of a duffel bag (Ezekiel 12). In the midst of these colorful and strange acts, the prophets echo the loving call of God:

WONDERSTRUCK

“Come back to me, come back. I’ve redeemed you.” --Isaiah 44:22 [Tweet this]

“I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.” --Isaiah 41:13 [Tweet this]

“And I’ll give them a heart to know me, God. They’ll be my people and I’ll be their God.” --Jeremiah 24:7 [Tweet this]

“I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life.” Ezekiel 37:5 [Tweet this]

This week’s reading raised the question, “What am I putting my hope in other than God?”

If I’m honest, the answer is—a lot!

I put my hope in people, possessions, systems, authority figures, and much more.

My prayer through this week’s reading: Lord, expose all the things I put my hope in other than you. Forgive me. Let all my hope reside in You. Amen.

What has the Holy Spirit been speaking to you as you’ve read the Bible this week?

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14 responses to The 40-Day Bible Challenge: What Are You Putting Your Hope In Other Than God?

  1. Margaret Polino Nicholas March 18, 2013 at 4:51 am

    This was a very thoughtful blog. We all do rely on things that we should put our faith in Our Lord.
    To take care of. Thank you for the food for thought.

  2. I also found this last week a slog. (In fact I still have about half the chapters from Saturdays read to get through.) So thanks for sharing something encouraging that you got out of these books!

  3. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who found last week difficult. I discovered that I had put my hope for protection in my employer…who was not doing a very good job of it.

  4. What I saw over and over again in the past week is that God is always reaching out to us, always trying to draw us closer. I was struck by the refrain in Ezekiel, “then you’ll realize that I am God.” He is always working to make us realize He is the one in control, He is the one we can trust, He is the one who continually holds out hope.

  5. Christy Campbell March 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    I have read this article at least 10 times today and have sent it to 2 friends because it so moved me, only to discover that they were low on hope today and were needing the encouragement that this devotion brought! I have not participated in the 40 day challenge due to just learning about you from the Extraordinary Women’s Conference in Greenville, SC this past weekend. I do study my Bible daily but I plan to read the books of the Bible mentioned above and hopefully finish the challenge with you! Blessings!

  6. Oh my goodness, I’m glad I’m not the only one!!! I love these books of the Bible, but honestly, it was a little crazy reading them so quickly, all at once. I’m really looking forward to Wednesday!!

    • Laurie, did you enjoy them as much this time around?

      • Up to this point in our reading, I didn’t feel too much resistance (truly, it’s been a huge blessing reading through the Bible in these 40 days), but honestly I struggled toward the end of last week!

        I enjoyed parts of these book as much as (or even more than) I did when reading them at a slower pace, but as a whole I would say it was better for me to read them slower. Yet, there was benefit to reading this section as we just did, as it sheds light on these books from a different vantage point.

        Thank you for leading us through, Margaret!

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