1 Chronicles 17; James 4; Jonah 1; Luke 6

Spending time with God, talking to Him, listening, and engaging with His word is something I treasure and enjoy every day.  The fact that God spends time with me gives me incredible encouragement to keep spending time with Him.

For you, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him; therefore your servant has found it possible to pray before you.                          1 Chronicles 17:25   NRSV

When I learned very early that God was not a vending machine where I inserted my time and effort and earned the right for a product to come sliding down into my hands, I knew that my life would never be the same. Love had entered the picture, and I accepted God’s love for first time, not in faith as in salvation, but in trust and hope that He was my Father.

 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. – James 4:3   NRSV

Sometimes I am in control and feel safe in His arms and other times I am caught up in my own world and forget to leave my matters in the palm of His hand.  Sometimes I simply forget that He is watching me, caring over me and loving me.  When I do mess up, He never leaves me.  There are times I have felt His arms around me even though I have suffered some extreme loss.

But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. – Jonah 1:17   NRSV

People wonder why my hands are outstretched when I pray.  It is a sign of surrender, for sure, but for me it is more about inviting God into my life to do what He does best – change me, make me whole, restore my life because I am Yours.

 After looking around at all of them, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. – Luke 6:10   NRSV

Father, You see my hand stretched out to You. Sometimes I can say words, sometimes I can only breathe deep breaths and sometimes when You love me so much, I can only cry.  I can pray because You have blessed me with promises and every one of them You have kept.  I can pray because You have shown me that you are more than God, You have come to me as my Father.  I can pray because in my weakest moments in life, Your arms are around me.  I can pray because I love being with You. I love You and thank You that You are always You – each and every day. Amen.

evanlaar

 

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1 Chronicles 16; James 3; Obadiah 1; Luke 5

On that day David gave to Asaph and his fellow Levites this song of thanksgiving to the Lord:

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord. Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given, you children of his servant Israel, you descendants of Jacob, chosen ones.” 1 Chronicles 16:7-14

We each took turns writing what we are thankful for on a pumpkin. On the days I’m not feeling thankful, it reminds me of God’s faithfulness to my family. How does thankfulness become a way of life?  As David says, I need to continually seek the Lord. I look back at the notes I took on Sunday… “Thankful hearts run to God and not away. Thankfulness begins in my thinking. Do I trust the heart of the Father? Thankfulness is a sacrifice when storms come, when disappointment comes. Thankfulness isn’t a response to my circumstances, my circumstances respond to my thankfulness.” I can learn a lot from David. He wasn’t just thankful when he felt like it. His spoken and penned words had the power to change his perspective.

Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.” 1 Chronicles 16:24&25 NLT

I have so many things to be grateful for, but oh how quickly I can become discontent. When I focus on what I don’t have, instead of what I do. And start comparing myself to others. But, when I worship and write down the numerous ways he has provided, my heart overflows with gratitude. I pray this would spill over into every area of my life. His praise coming out of my mouth more than anything else.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.” James 3:7-10NLT

Lord, I need you!

Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor-sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” Luke 5:31 NLT

Dear Father, I praise you for who you are. I want to cultivate a grateful heart. You are good! Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Chronicles 15, Amos 9, Luke 4, James 2

The kids and I have been reading a book together called “Kisses From Katie”. It’s a story about Katie Davis who, at age 19 left her home in TN and became a missionary in Africa and within eight months began adopting 13 children and caring for hundreds more. It’s so important to read inspiring stories and not just for the sake of our kiddos but also for us! I think I am learning more than my kids. What is inspiring most of all is not the specific good works that Katie has done (which, by the way are truly amazing) but it’s her heart that shines and inspires me to think about my own life.

Katie traveled to Africa after high school planning to stay only one year. But very shortly into her stay the Lord began to change the passions and desires. She realized, it wasn’t enough to just pray for these people she needed to DO something about their needs.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[b] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-17

After reading a portion of the book the other evening, my seven year old daughter and I ended up having a very long conversation about works and faith. I could see the wheels turning in her brain and I remember asking the same questions as a child. “Am I doing enough good to go to heaven? What happens if I sin? Am I good enough?” “My friends say they are Christians but they don’t act like it.” “How do I know my friend is a real Christian?”

I have struggled with many of these same questions for nearly 3 decades and this passage in James has been a love hate relationship for me. Though I know I am justified by Jesus’ finished work on the cross, I still question am I doing enough. Is my faith really genuine? I am an all or nothing person so when I miss an opportunity to serve or worse, when I sin, I feel doomed. It was in explaining to my daughter the beauty of God’s grace, Jesus’ sacrifice and the joy of serving Christ that I was able to realize the truth for myself.

Katie’s story left me asking questions of myself and my family. Am I (are we) intentional with my time, money, resources, and love? When I (we) hear of or see a need around me do I respond quickly with love, compassion and resources or do I (we) offer a quick prayer and move on? Not all of us will be called to be full time missionaries to Africa or to adopt thirteen children but ALL Christians are called to love everyone like Christ loves. That can be sticky and hard and ugly and beautiful and joyous! Good works are the fruits of our genuine faith in a God that gave the ultimate sacrifice. They come from a heart that desires what God desires not our own selfish desires that store up treasures on earth. Genuine faith says, “yes” to God when he asks us for our time, our resources, our love.

Like Katie, I am flabbergasted by the statistics. There are more than 2 billion people claiming to be Christians. If only 8% of them provided food for 1 child, there would be no more starving children IN THE WORLD. Modern day Christianity has become watered down and easy, particularity in the US. We offer our prayers and canned goods but only if we have time to stop by the local grocery store and grab a few items. Many people believe in Jesus but so do the demons. This Thanksgiving and Christmas our family is taking more time to first of all, appreciate this season and worship our Lord and Savior but also be more intentional. The shoeboxes we packed for Operation Christmas child looked different than before. The amount of money we will spend on gift giving will be different as well as the source they gifts are coming from. Not all of us will become missionaries in a foreign country but God’s people are everywhere and the needs are great. We will start by opening our eyes and hears and meeting the needs of the people God places in front of us today.

Dear Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice on the cross, the ultimate sacrifice that granted me eternal life. Thank you for the privilege to participate in doing kingdom work, not out of obligation but love. Help us to serve your people with the royal law of love and place their needs above our own. Amen.

kateredding

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1 Chronicles 13, 14; James 1; Amos 8; Luke 3

Obedience and consequences of disobedience. Two New Testament passages telling us how to follow God, how to obey his commands, how to live as He intends us. Two Old Testament passages telling us of ruin that resulted from not following Gods commands, from not doing as God said.

James gives us instruction on obedience. He tells us how important it is to do what God tells us to do.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks life. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25)

John the Baptist, in Luke 3, instructs the people on how to turn to the Lord and follow Him once more.

“’What should we do then?’ the crowd asked. John answered, ‘The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.’” Luke 3:10-11

An account of consequence is given in 1 Chronicles 3. Uzzah would have known the rules for moving the ark and he knew the consequence for disobeying the rules.

“When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen had stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.” (1 Chronicles 13:9-10)

In Amos 8, a statement of consequence is provided. The Israelites have disobeyed the Lord’s commands and He announces the consequences.

Obedience and disobedience. Following and turning away. As I contemplate the relationships between these, I am reminded that obedience to the Lord does not guarantee a perfect life and bad things happen to even those who are most obedient. It’s a fallen world. Yet I strive to obey God to please Him, to experience a strong relationship with Him and to love Him.

Thank you Lord, for providing the Bible, a written reminder, a constant source to help me follow You. I fall so short of Your intentions for me by not fully obeying your instructions. Thank You for Your infinite Grace and never-ending Mercy. Help me to obey Your words so that I can live fully in Your blessing. Amen

Diona

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1 Chronicles 11, 12; Hebrews 13; Amos 7; Luke 2

In 1 Chronicles 11, David becomes king over Israel.

So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord through Samuel.” (1 Chron. 11”3)

Amos 7 is about visions seen by the minor prophet.

Hebrews 13 contains a commonly heard verse:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

(Hebrews 13:8)

But it’s the Christmas account found in Luke 2 that is the most meaningful to me as we approach the season of Advent.

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give

    birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped

    Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no

    Room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

    “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the

    Heavenly hosts praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the

    Highest, and on Earth peace among men with whom His is

    Pleased.’” (Luke 2: 13-14)

    “And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told

    them by the shepherds, But Mary treasured all these things,

    pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:18-19)

Lord, help us to be like Mary and treasure how You came to be with us over 2,000 years ago.  When the busyness of the holidays hits with full force, help us to reflect on the true meaning of it all and give You all the glory.

Amen,

Kellie

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1 Chronicles 9, 10; Hebrews 12; Amos 6; Luke 1: 39-80

Today’s piece I’m going to keep short and sweet. It doesn’t happen often, but I am so blessed to visit with my family in South Africa for a few weeks. This allows me the opportunity to discuss the readings with my Dad face to face. His insights are invaluable. Our discussion on today’s readings led me to a theme of complete opposites. I’m talking about the contrast between the demise of mighty Saul and the rise of humble Mary. This is what I’d like to share today.

1 Chronicles 10: 13-14

 13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, 14 and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Luke 1: 46-55

46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”

A great and wonderful example of how we should behave as Christians isn’t it? Humbling ourselves to the Lord and the world because as we see in these passages above how the mighty are humbled and the humble made mighty. Let us be humble and follow the Almighty and He will lift us up and we will be mighty!

God bless

Neil

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1 Chronicles 7, 8; Hebrews 11; Amos 5; Luke 1:1-38

Two chapters chronicling fathers and sons (and some daughters). Some names carried a distinction of accomplishment, and other names just that–full lives lived and breathed, a lifetime reduced to the very essence of a name.

Hebrews and a faith legacy. I slow here–familiar names and stories. Abel, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses. The many others, unnamed:

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Hebrews 11:35b-40, NLT.

Unnamed, but remembered–not by glitz or glamor, but by grit, perseverance, sacrifice and faith.

Considering the Advent season, and holding tight to word and promise.

37 For no word from God will ever fail. Hebrews 11:37, NLT.

Hope. Promise. Truth.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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