2 Chronicles 19-20; 2 Kings 1; Psalm 20; Matthew 3

We started a new tradition in our home recently.  We have come to realize that our kids and their spouses may not know, remember or might not even think about some of our experiences that our fifty years of living has given us insight on.  We thought we would let them all ask one question about us that they would like to know.  Thankfully most of them were pretty light, but my son went ahead and asked the deep question – was there ever a time when there was no light, no way out of an experience and what did you do? Great question and I was reminded of that as I read Jehoshaphat’s story – what did he do when there was no hope?

Early the next morning, as everyone got ready to leave for the desert near Tekoa, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, “Listen my friends, if we trust the Lord God and believe what these prophets have told us, the Lord will help us, and we will be successful.” Then he explained his plan and appointed men to march in front of the army and praise the Lord for his holy power by singing:[g]

“Praise the Lord!

    His love never ends.”

As soon as they began singing, the Lord confused the enemy camp, so that the Ammonite and Moabite troops attacked and completely destroyed those from Edom. Then they turned against each other and fought until the entire camp was wiped out! – 2 Chronicles 20:20-23   CEV

My wife and I shared with our family that there is no other way but prayer.  No matter what, where, why, when or how, God’s love for you will keep you safe. We shared a few stories and all of them involved having a conversation with God.

I pray that the Lord
will listen
when you
are in trouble,
and that the God of Jacob
will keep you safe. – Psalm 20:1   CEV

There is something amazing when I have invited God into my space.  He takes all that I give Him.  He has never asked me to do anything, especially singing in public.  However, He has asked me to wait, He has asked me to stay still and He always asks to leave things in His hands. When we stand with Jesus, He stands with us and when we enter His presence on the last day, He will greet us and say, “Well done!”

Then a voice from heaven said, “This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him.” – Matthew 3:17   CEV

Thank you Lord that I could answer my son’s question.  I pray that any member of my family will reach out to You regardless of where they are in relationship with You or the difficulty they are facing. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18; Matthew 2

“Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance; and by marriage he allied himself with Ahab. After some years he went down to visit Ahab in Samaria; and Ahab killed sheep and oxen in abundance for him and the people who were with him, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth Gilaed. So Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?” And he answered, “I am as you are, and my people as your people, we will be with you in the war.” Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Please inquire for the word of the Lord today.” 2 Chronicles 18:1-4 NIV

Jehoshaphat listened to the wrong voices, even though he knew which one was right and true.  He let his popularity and power guide his decisions. He aligned himself with a wicked king. Who am I walking with?  Will it strengthen my faith or weaken it? Will I let friends influence me or will I influence them?  A coffee date with a friend today is foremost in my thoughts.  I am grateful for her strong faith.  She keeps me grounded when I am tempted to get off track.  She tells me not to hold back, but to speak the truth in love.

“But Jehoshaphat said , “Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?” So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil. He is Micaiah the son of Imla.” 2 Chronicles 18:6-7 NIV

Jehoshaphat still doesn’t listen to the Lord.  Until he is put in a situation where he needs him.  Oh, how this can be true for me as well.

“So it was, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, “It is the king of Israel!” Therefore they surrounded him to attack; but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him, and God diverted them from him. For so it was, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.” 2 Chronicles 18:31&32 NIV

God listened and answered his prayer.  He didn’t condemn him for making the wrong choice.  He showed him mercy when he needed him the most.  He wants me to come to him with a willing heart.  And to know that it’s never to late cry out to him.

“So they said to him, “In Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.” Matthew 2:5&6 NIV

Dear Jesus, thank you that when I pray,  you hear me.  Give me the courage to do your will, even when it’s not the popular thing to do.  Help me to be faithful to you when it’s hard.  Thank you for your promise to always be with me. Amen.

And Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak.” 2 Chronicles 18:13 NIV

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Kin 19-21; 2 Chronicles 17; Psalm 129; Matthew 1

Do you know who is 50th in line for the British Throne? If forty-nine people died of some strange disease or were in the same place during a terrorist attack, do you know who the person would be who would ascend the throne? It would be Isabella Windsor. She is two years old. You can find her lineage here: (https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_of_succession_to_the_British_throne)

Ancestries are important. So important that Matthew starts his Gospel with King Jesus’ lineage. It may be a list of names we’ve never heard of or seen, but they prove a point. They prove that humanly speaking Jesus is who He says He is. This first chapter of Matthew proves a point. Jesus is King!

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations (Matthew 1:1-17 [ESV]).

Speaking personally, what does your spiritual genealogy look like? Are you the first in a line of Christ-followers? Are you in the middle? I do believe spiritual genealogies are important. My mother is 94 and a strong Christ-follower. So was her mother. Today there are scores of individuals down to great grand children from my mom that are all all Christ-followers. We represent, five pastors, three missionaries. The same is true on my wife’s side of the family even more prolific with at least a dozen missionaries serving today around the world.

Are you reading to start or keep going a Christ-follower movement through your family today that will reach the nations for Jesus?

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1 Kings 17-18; Psalm 119; Jude

Throughout 1 Kings 17 and 18, God shows acts of power to Elijah and those around him. These acts include sending ravens to feed Elijah while he was in hiding from King Ahab, sustaining the Widow that later cared for him, and bringing the Widow’s son back to life at Elijah’s request. However, one of the most awe-inspiring displays of His power comes when Elijah sets up a contest between himself and the servants of Baal to prove to the people of Israel that the LORD is the One True God.

Baal’s servants are unable to elicit a response from their god, so Elijah decides it’s his turn. He repairs God’s altar, prepares a bull, and thoroughly douses the altar in water. Then he calls upon the LORD.

Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” 1 Kings 18:38-39 ESV

The fire from heaven destroyed the soaked altar and everything around it. All the people around were awed by God’s power and fell on their faces, confessing that the LORD was God.

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! Psalm 119:1-3 ESV

Psalm 119 is a long, carefully constructed, acrostic poem that expresses love for God and His Word. The psalmist praises the LORD for His commandments and statutes, which he delights at all times, good and bad. He also tells others to look to God’s word for guidance and help.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:9, 98, and 105 ESV

By reading the Word of the LORD, I can be sure of his commandments and not be led astray. His Word provides light in the dark that can save me from stumbling.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, Through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 25

Dear God, thank You for giving Your Word as guidance for my life. Please help me read and follow it, seeking after You. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

 

 

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2 Chronicles 15-16; 1 Kings 16; Philemon

I didn’t see it coming. As Asa’s story unfolded, I felt bolstered by the prophet’s words: “Whenever you seek him, you will find him,” and “be strong and courageous” (2 Chronicles 15). Asa heard and took courage. He removed idols, repaired an altar, and called together the people. There were covenants made and sacrifices offered. Asa’s heart remained faithful throughout his life (2 Chronicles 15:17b, NLT. Note this.).

So I didn’t see it coming, when in 2 Chronicles 16, he would overlook consulting the Lord, a decision that carried crucial consequences. His first thirty-five years of reign were marked by an intentional abiding, but the last years of leadership are an unraveling of sorts–misplaced trust, anger and oppression.

What happened?

***

While disappointing to read, was it a surprise that Israel’s leaders were evil and angered the Lord time after time?

25 But Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. 26 He followed the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit. The people provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols. (1 Kings 16:25-26, NLT)

I think long on examples. I consider influences in my lifetime (some influenced me not to follow them!). But how often do I take into consideration my own words and actions and the influence they have on those around me?

***

I’ve spent the past few days working on a baby’s knit hat, and I’ve started it over so many times I’ve lost count. I noticed that sometimes the row was a stitch or two longer than it should have been, or that I dropped a stitch accidentally and there was a big hole in it. These mistakes weren’t made on purpose. They were so very unintentional.

***

I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people. (Philemon 4-7, NLT)

Paul writes to Philemon, reminding him of his generosity and love–and to take it a step further (to extend grace, forgiveness, or welcome to someone who has wronged him).

17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL!

20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.

21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more! (Philemon 17-21, NLT)

Paul’s letter to Philemon reads like encouragement and caution.

***

I’m not responsible for the decisions other people make–and lately I’ve been surprised at how someone’s choice can influence my response. I do pause and wonder: should it? Like Philemon, if someone has wronged me, should I be less loving or generous in my own behaviors, or like Paul suggests–to do as much or more than expected? Do I stay true to how God has wired me? If I’m not intentional, abiding in Christ, I could look back at the fabric of the story of my life and see holes and wonder, “What happened?”

Lord, I’m so imperfect, but I know that you are at work in my heart. Help me to be true to who you’ve created me to be, independent of how another behaves. Some days effort seems grossly out of proportion to return. I am humbled and saddened as I wonder over the question of what’s in it for me? I pray that I continue strong, even in seasons of drought, because it pleases you.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 13-14; Titus 3

We read about acts of the kings.  If they did evil in the sight of God, they did not succeed.  And their sins caused others to sin.

“In the third year of Asa the king of Judah, Baasha the son of Ahijah began to reign over all Israel at Tizrah, and he reigned twenty-four years.  He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of Jeroboam and his sin which he made Israel to sin.” (1 Kings 15:33-34 ESV)

If they did what was right in the sight of God, then He allowed them to prevail.

Then the men of Judah raised the battle shout.  And when the men of Judah shouted, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Judah, and God gave them into their hand.  Abijah and his people struck them with great force, so there fell slain of Israel 500,000 chosen men.  Thus the men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord, the God of their fathers.” (2 Chronicles 13:15-18 ESV)

But salvation is different.  We cannot be saved by works.  Nothing we do can ever be “good enough.”  We are only saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7 ESV)

Lord,

Thank you for showing us that we all fall short of Your glory.  But even more so, thank you for saving us from ourselves.  We are eternally grateful!

Kellie

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1 Kings 13-14; 2 Chronicles 12; Psalm 47; Titus 2

11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

15 You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say. (Titus 2:11-15) NLT

I clearly remember the time in my life before I became a Christ-follower. In fact, even as “mature” (in age) as I am, there are still more years behind me when I wasn’t. I thought I was a “good person”—at least by my own standards–but I lived a worldly life. After I became a believer, I had no idea how to change my life. I know it needed to change because my life up to that point was full of turmoil, strife, and pain. I needed a Paul and a Titus in my life!

I went to church for most of my life. Yet somehow I had never been taught about having a personal relationship with Jesus. That was a pretty confusing concept to me. But the Lord guided me to a different church. It was there I found the “Paul” I needed. The Pastor of that church taught straight from the bible and explained what the verses meant. He introduced me to Jesus. “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.”  Much as Paul did in his teachings, that Pastor helped me understood that in order for my life to change I needed “to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures”.   God had a better plan for my life than I did. Through his instruction, and studying the bible on my own, I had a better understanding of the “why” I needed to change and let the Holy Spirit show me the “how.” I never would have changed by myself.

I had done most of this learning on my own up to this point. Then God brought a “Titus” into my life—a woman who became a friend and a mentor to me. I had never seen a godly life modeled. As I got to know her and how she lived her life, I knew I never wanted to go back to the life I used to have. Through our meetings, she embodied, “You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them.” Sometime she did this with words but mostly she taught by example. While others in my life didn’t understand why I no longer chose to do as they did, she encouraged me to make better choices. Little by little, God pruned those non-believers from my life. He knew my heart was devoted to Him.

1 Come, everyone! Clap your hands!
    Shout to God with joyful praise!
2 For the Lord Most High is awesome.
    He is the great King of all the earth. (Psalm 47:1-2) NLT

Lord, I will never be able to thank you enough for showing me a better way to live and for changing the direction of my life.  So often, tears pour unashamedly from my eyes as I lift my hands, clap my hands, and sing joyful praise to you as I think of how you’ve loved me into wholeness.  You’ve shown me the true meaning of love.  You ARE awesome as it says in the Psalm.  I thank you for Jesus and all he has taught me.  In his name I pray, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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