Leviticus 4; Psalms 1,2; Proverbs 19; Colossians 2

This morning we begin a new month. We have finished three months of reading the Bible this year. Have things changed in your personal spiritual life? The world sure has changed. Our laser focused vision during these days is to keep our eyes on the God of this universe and let Him guide us.

Our reading for today gives us a pleasant result when we do. Psalm 1 is included below:

1 How happy is the one who does not
walk in the advice of the wicked
or stand in the pathway with sinners
or sit in the company of mockers!
2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams
that bears its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

4 The wicked are not like this;
instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand up in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to ruin. (Psalm 1 [CSB])

It’s an interesting progression that the person who stays happy keeps away from. First of all they do not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway of sinners or sit in the company of the mockers. See the progression — walk, stand, sit. I’ve thought of this many times. When we walk with or keep company with those that would pull us away from God it’s easier then to spend time with them (stand) and then finally to be involved with what they do (sit). How harmless it starts and how devastating it ends. If we spend our time walking, standing and sitting in God’s Word and His people we will be like a tree planted by a stream and our roots will grow deep in God.

Where are we spending our time these days? Are we watching too much television news? Is that making us anxious and distracted, or are we finding more time in this enforced slowdown to our lives spending time in God’s Word and in communication with His people? Don’t get me wrong, we need to be well informed on current events, but even that can be too much and become a distraction.

Let’s stay in God’s Word and let’s stay together during these days.

Father God we love You and Your Word. Help us to focus on you in these days of distress and be shining lights that draw others to You and Your Word. Amen.

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Leviticus 2,3; John 21; Proverbs 18; Colossians 1

Whenever I read John 21, there is something about it that fills me with joy.

Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

This reminds me of the first time Jesus told Peter to throw his net on the other side of the boat. It was when he called him to be fishers of men. Peter surely remembered it. I wonder if Peter was going back to that time BEFORE he denied Jesus; if he needed to be in that place where he first met Jesus. My bible is precious to me.  It is filled with dates and words and memories of the times I’ve met with Jesus.  When I need to be encouraged, that’s where I go—back to the place I met Jesus.

I thought a lot about Peter and what might have been going through his head in light of how I struggle with my sin—when I know I’ve done something that really must have hurt God.  I’ve gone the gamut from being so upset with myself and couldn’t believe I did it.  I was humbled and sad and ashamed of myself for being tempted to do something I never thought I’d do. I can imagine Peter could have felt like that as well.  In repentance, I’ve gone before the Lord and confessed my sin asking to be forgiven.  But I went feeling shame and remorse. That’s why the fact Peter didn’t hesitate to run to Jesus, to jump out of the boat and swim to shore, fills me with joy.  He didn’t hold back in shame; he immediately went to Jesus. The love Peter had for Jesus was evident.  He had no doubt Jesus felt the same about him. That is a lesson for me as well.  I have no need to hold back in shame but immediately run to Jesus in expectation of forgiveness. Later in this same chapter we see total restoration as Jesus gives him his assignment to continue what Jesus started.  He even prepares him for how he will die. We know the rest of the story and how the disciples went willingly to spread the gospel and how they became martyr’s in the name of Jesus even knowing what might happen.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Jesus reconciled Peter.  Jesus reconciled Paul.  Jesus reconciled me.

Lord, I thank you for stories and an imagination where I can picture myself as the main character.  I can picture myself as Peter, I can imagine how I might feel, and I can receive the same gift you gave to him—forgiveness.  Thank you Lord for forgiving me when I’ve sinned, thank you for accepting me no matter what, and thank you for always being there just like you stood on the shore for the disciples to see. I love you so much!  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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Leviticus 1; John 20; Proverbs 17; Philippians 4

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I love reading the resurrection accounts. I love that they are all different. The way Jesus appeared to each person. Sometimes suddenly, sometimes almost incognito, sometimes in the midst of their tears, sometimes after the truth of the resurrection already settled into their thinking.

We all respond differently to Christ, just as they responded differently as they grappled and processed the reality of the resurrection. Mary stood weeping. John ran ahead but then stopped and takes it all in visually before his first step into the tomb. Peter just rushes right in. Thomas needs to touch the physical wounds to make sure for himself.

Jesus knows and loves each one. Jesus died and rose for each one.

That is how He can be the God of such deep peace.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:7-9 ESV)

He is intimately acquainted with us – our quirks and idiosyncrasies, our emotional needs and shortcomings, our situations and limitations, our intellect and sense of humor. And, He reaches down to meet us exactly where we are and offer His peace and perspective.

Our seasons of life change, but He does not.

Dear Father God, thank you for coming into the midst of me in all my messiness and being the love that I needed. Thank you for bringing that peace that would guard my thinking. Thank you for giving everything when I could never repay or anticipate the depth of that sacrifice. I love you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Exodus 38; John 17; Proverbs 14; Philippians 1

“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:14-17 ESV

Before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus prays to God the Father to protect His disciples after He is no longer with them in-person. Jesus clearly states in His prayer that His followers will be hated and ostracized just like He was. This is one of the hard truths of true Christianity: it is not the popular choice and will not result in the world’s love and support. The ways of the flesh are at war with the ways of the Spirit and the flesh does not give in, or decide to coexist with, the Spirit. Jesus asks God not to take His disciples into heaven yet, as they still have work to do on this earth. Instead, He prays for protection for them and for strength as they face the hatred of the world because they follow the truth.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent,  I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear I still have. Philippians 1:27-30 ESV

Paul reflects Jesus’ statement of the world’s hatred in his letter to the Philippians, urging them to stand firm in the faith and to suffer for Christ’s sake. Paul knew what discipleship cost and wholeheartedly believed that his portion in Christ was worth the suffering he faced on earth from followers of the flesh. Paul’s call to stand firm goes out to all believers. It is important for me to remember that the approval and love of the world is worthless compared to a relationship with Christ and that everything on this earth is temporary and fleeting. It is easy to run from the world’s hatred and to try to fit into its standards, but Jesus is clear, His disciples are not of this world and if they follow Him, they will not be accepted in it.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21 ESV

Jesus’ prayer was not only for His immediate disciples, but for all who follow Him. It is important for me to live a life that reflects the gospel and shows God to others, not pursuing the empty love of the world. It is comforting that Jesus prayed for my protection from Satan and that His love and grace are sufficient for me. Instead of the world’s love, I have something much greater.

 

Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus to save me from my sins. Please help me to pursue you wholeheartedly, ignoring the pulls and temptations of the world. Give me strength and peace to endure through the trials of my life. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

 

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Exodus 37; John 16; Proverbs 13; Ephesians 6

When Bezalel fashioned the hammered gold with his fingertips, it was holy work. The golden rings, the cherubim, the almond blossoms, the incense altar–his work for the Lord is not forgotten.

29 Then he made the sacred anointing oil and the fragrant incense, using the techniques of a skilled incense maker. (Exodus 37:29, NLT)

God gives these talents. He gives purpose. He gives provision. It is for his glory. Holy work.

He supplies the armor, and it serves a purpose and is made of this–truth; His righteousness; peace of the Gospel; faith; salvation; His Word. It is up to me to take up this armor and use it. He shows me my real enemy–all else is just distraction to take my eyes off a target, to become lost and ineffective.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18, NLT)

Holy work.

20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should. (Ephesians 6:20, NLT)

In chains. Enslaved. It’s not a circumstance or a title–it’s about kingdom and calling. One body, many parts, and all essential.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites. (Ephesians 6:5-9, NLT)

I return to the Lord’s feet again and again. I listen closely as he tells the disciples, and they don’t fully understand, and I take notes because I forget and get distracted–he’s speaking.

22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. (John 16:22, NLT)

What is that joy? Is it not truth? The truth of his being and presence and promise.

31 Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:31-33, NLT)

Lord, you are my rock. I can stand firm upon your word–it’s truth. Help me to keep a kingdom focus, to love you and serve you with all my heart. To walk into the tasks you have prepared for me. To rest in the truth and assurance of your promises. Thank you for loving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 36; John 15; Proverbs 12; Ephesians 5

I have been reading a lot of material from Martin Luther recently, especially what he wrote defining what prayer means to him.

 “Prayer is the oxygen of spiritual life… without it, we die.” – Martin Luther

Jesus, the One who is the starting point for any powerful prayer I have read, promises something special to me.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it. – John 15:7 GNT

If I will spend time with Him and in His Word, I can ask for anything and I can have it. This is God’s great plan. How can I do this, how can I learn to live in God’s Word, pray it and then watch Him move?

Actually, I believe that it is not an external exhibition but rather an internal one. It is called being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead, be filled with the Spirit. – Ephesians 5:18 GNT

When I ask God to fill me with His Spirit, what am I actually asking for?

“An event subsequent to conversion in which a believer experiences a fresh infilling with the Holy Spirit that may result in a variety of consequences, including greater love for God, greater victory over sin, greater power for ministry, and sometimes the receiving of new spiritual gifts” – Wayne Grudem

I can see how the New Testament usually talks about this and loved Paul exhortation to me to have the Spirit of God filling my being so that I can walk with Him.

Father, I love hearing You express Yourself to me each and every time I chose to be in a quiet place, a place set aside to engage with You. I love each greeting You give me each time we meet. I thank You that your Spirit has never left me for if He did, I would not make it through my life. You have opened Your Word to me and I thank You and in them I have found life. I have asked for much and You in Your wisdom and love for me have given me much of what I have asked. Your most profound gifts to me were things I never did ask for but You knew I needed. Each time Your Spirit engages me I know I come to a place where I love You more, I am challenged to trust You and then to follow You. I am confident when I enter into ministry and I love the opportunity of ministering to others using the gifts You have given me. I love walking with You, thank You for walking with me. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

 

 

 

 

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Exodus 35; John 14; Proverbs 11; Ephesians 4

Then Moses told people of Israel, “The Lord has specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.  The Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts.  He is a master craftsmen, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze.  He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood.  He is a master at every craft.  The Lord has given them special skills as engravers, designers, embroiders in blue, purple, and scarlet thread on fine linen cloth, and weavers.  They excel as craftsmen and as designers.” Exodus 35:30-35 NLT

There are times I doubt my calling as an artist.  It is encouraging to know that the Lord chose Bezalel and others for these specific purposes.  I think of when I was asked to paint during a worship service at church and I said no for years.  I kept thinking, “Why would an artist, who creates while they are alone, want to stand up in front of people and paint?” I let fear stop me.  But, when I finally stepped out in faith even when I was afraid, God used it to shift my perspective. To show me that it wasn’t about me.  That it was about worshipping him.  One Sunday I had two members of my church tell me that my painting meant something different to each of them.  I was amazed to see how the Spirit was moving in their hearts and mine. I always want to remember how he took that step of obedience and mustard seed faith and multiplied it for his kingdom.  So, that he gets the glory and I don’t think it’s all about me.

“Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.  The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:2&25 NLT

How am I using my gifts to unify the body of Christ?

“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.  Always be humble and gentle.  Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.  Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.  For there is a one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” Ephesians 4:1-4 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for always being with me. Help me to live a life worthy of your calling.  I praise you for who you are.  I pray that I would look for opportunities to serve others.  Amen.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in me.” John 14:1 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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