Exodus 34; John 13; Proverbs 10; Ephesians 3

I looked to the past for the key. But because of the estrangement and the years, I had no answer. How many generations did it go back? One. Two. Three? More?

“Yahweh! The Lord!
    The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
    and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
    I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
    I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
    even children in the third and fourth generations.” Exodus 34:6b-7, NLT

I wanted something different for my children. I told them of a better way. I told them of the woes to come if they continued on a path. They saw my struggle. How could I impress upon them the power of love when my own heart was guarded? The question haunted me.

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35, NLT

God breaks strongholds. He takes impossible situations and he brings good out of them. I sat at my sister’s hospital bedside days ago. I spoke encouragement to her, told her she is a fighter. In a moment of clarity, she said to me, “God is always fighting for us, and he lets us think we’re the warriors!”

Her words are treasure. I laughed and cried with joy at her insight. Oh, God, you are mighty. Dear God, you are good.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21, NLT.

The power of love, at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus, through all generations. Forever and ever. Amen.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 33; John 12; Proverbs 9; Ephesians 2

I may be a bit morbid, but I think a lot about the living and the dead. On one level I am asking the ageless questions about who lives and who dies and why. These questions pave the path of pain that leaves a jagged swatch of loss I cannot conceal. If you know me well, you have sat with me during those times of grief. On a deeper level I am wrestling with existential crisis questions such as the meaning and purpose in this life. These thoughts are universal.

In John 12:1 we read, “Then, six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.” How fitting that Jesus would be in the house of the man who had tasted death and returned to life after three days!” Perhaps Jesus thought of His own imminent physical death by crucifixion. Can you imagine how that memory of seeing Lazarus walk from the cave into the light and now sitting next to him impacted Christ? Was this inspiration for Jesus to prophecy His own death?  Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain,” (John 12:23). The souls saved through the miracle of raising Lazarus would pale in numbers to the generations of souls saved through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So what did Lazarus do to deserve life after death (the first time)? Can we add to a lifespan, or is the numbering of our days unlikely to change? My curiosity was piqued after reading this interesting passage in Proverbs 9:10-11. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding, For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you,” (my emphasis.) Can it be that life is extended through the wisdom and word of God?

Of course, my next thought is an automatic negative one that says, “Yea, but what if I have molded the golden calf?”

Sometimes the New Testament Jesus is preached as if Christ brought love to a world which had only known the wrath of the God of the Old Testament. I’ve come to believe that this line of thinking may be an example of how our ways are not like His. For in Exodus 33:18, 19 when Moses had asked for a demonstration of God’s favor (remember this is after the Israelites’ faithless worship of their man-made golden calf). God said, “I shall make all My goodness pass before you, and I shall call out with the Name Hashem (Mercy) before you; I shall show favor when I choose to show favor, and I shall show mercy when I choose to show mercy.” God was about to show Moses the 13 Attributes of Mercy (see Exodus 34,) that Moses was to teach His people. God wanted them and us to invoke these attributes of mercy in prayers.

Mercy is for the living. Ephesians 2:1,4, and10 declares, “And you He made alive…God who is rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

My prayer: God, give me revelation and understanding. Without Your mercy, I have nothing. And like Moses, I say that without Your Presence, I will not move. Even though I have done nothing to deserve Your favor, I seek Your goodness through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, my Savior. Praise You for however many days to come, continually living in Your presence.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Ex. 32; John 11; Prov. 8; Eph. 1

I am the Savior and there are no other besides me…

And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” Exodus 32:4

At the risk of revealing my age, does anyone remember the Easter tradition of watching The Ten Commandments when they were younger? I’ve never forgotten the scene when Moses, after spending 40 days and nights at the top of Mount Sinai with God, came down with two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. Excited about the prospect of bringing ‘the law’ to the very people God released from Egyptian bondage, Moses found that his people had created and began to worship a calf forged out of gold. The people traded their faith in the God, who had saved them and their descendants from a lifetime of slavery, for an idol by donating their jewelry. To add insult to injury, it was Moses’ own brother, Aaron, who had used his God-given gifts to forge this idol, which disappointed Moses, and God, tremendously. Imagine… not having the faith to believe, especially after being freed from bondage… it’s a good thing people aren’t like that today!! Or are they???

Look carefully at the chronology of the story… people receive tremendous blessings… people are asked to be obedient, and wait upon God for knowledge based on His timing… people get restless and turn to idols as a means of ‘fixing’ their problems and answer their questions. Put this way, I’m not sure if this describes what happened at the foot of Mount Sinai, or what’s happening in the world in 2017… that we quickly forget the provider of all things… the God that supplies all of our needs!

I wonder if our loyalty is much different from the Israelites who Moses led out of bondage. We seem to be just as easily distracted by man-made comforts and quick-fixes when we’re bored. And we seem to be quick to assume credit or misdirect credit for the blessings that God alone has provided.

I remember watching the scene described in The Ten Commandments and thinking, “I can’t believe the Israelite’s would have done what they did after all God had done for them! If only they had applied a more focused and disciplined attitude to their faith, perhaps they could have persevered.” But then, I remembered what Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:1-5…

1“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2“For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

The Israelites are so easy to criticize, but, in the same way, so easy to related to! It was God alone who had rescued them from the Egyptians; not some gold calf or human leader. Even before God sent Jesus, as Savior from our sins, it was God who assumed the role as Savior in a multitude of ways. If we could get to a point of focusing every doubt we have towards the Father and the Son, imagine the depth of faith we could have?

Is our belief in God that of a Savior? Is He our first go-to place when we struggle, or is He merely an afterthought? Do we use Him to set the direction of our day and our life, affecting every thought and action? If we’re honest, we’ve all got some work to do… He, and He alone deserves all our focus, love, and devotion so we just don’t know Him, but we really KNOW Him!!

Lord, I want to focus my loyalty on You, and You alone… please reveal where I may I may be falling short of who I should be seeking as You deserve all credit for who and what I am. Amen!

Greg (gstefanelli)

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Exodus 31; John 10; Proverbs 7; Galatians 6

 

Exodus 31:

Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of [a]craftsmanship, to [b]make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in [c]bronze, and in the cutting of stones [d]for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of[e]craftsmanship. 6   Exodus 31 NASB

Craftmanship. Beauty. Excellence. Artistry. Skillfulness. God is in these things and they are holy when done unto Him. He puts skill in the hearts of all who are skillful.

   12 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 13 “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. 14 Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death.16 So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to [o]celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.” Exodus 31 NASB

 

The Sabbath is for refreshment. It is for holiness. It is for a heart for God. Jesus connects the Sabbath across the Old and New Testaments. What does Sabbath mean for me?

John 10:

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.29 [d]My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are [e]one.” NASB

Shepherd. Keeper. Protector. Help me know Your Voice, O Lord and follow You alone.

Proverbs 7

My son, keep my words
And treasure my commandments within you.
Keep my commandments and live,
And my [a]teaching as the [b]apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
And call understanding your intimate friend. NASB

Wisdom. Insight. Bold Warning. Lord, help not to shy away from any subject- especially raising up young men in Your nurture and admonition. Your Word certainly does not shy away. But faces all things head on. Help me to do likewise. Give me Your wisdom. Only from You. A Word in due season in the lives of those entrusted to me for such a short time.

Galatians 6

Brethren, even if [a]anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.10 So then, [b]while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. NASB

Restore in a spirit of gentleness. Bear one another’s burdens. Bear my own load. Do good and take every opportunity. Treasure God’s people.

Lord, with the intensity of trials we continue through, I pray that I will have a soft heart to respond to Your Love and correction. Help me to apply Your Word to my life and walk in the freshness of Your grace. Obedience to You is the path to peace.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Exodus 30; John 9; Proverbs 6; Galatians 5

The disciples consider whose fault it is that a man was born blind. Jesus ends the debate by revealing the purpose of the man’s blindness— to reveal God’s glory, His character.  Jesus spits on the ground, makes a bit of mud and applies it to the eyes of a blind man and tells him to go and wash it off. He does as instructed and for the first time, sees.

No one can quite believe what has just happened. Three times, he is asked to tell his story. It appears that his audience would like him to change his narrative and when he refuses, they turn on him. The formerly blind man will have none of it:

“Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this nam were not from God, he could do nothing.” John 9:30-34.

Here is my take away: I have had parts of my life that have been crippling in a variety of ways. There are times when repentance is required, but other times, pointing my finger at myself or others is in vain. Sometimes, bad things just happen, but Jesus is the master of using the ordinary stuff of life, the things that aren’t glorious or pretty to work his wonders.

The formerly blind man gets it right. He isn’t willing to change his story to accommodate others’s desired narrative; he gives credit where credit is due.  He believes.

Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” John 9:39.

Lord Jesus, thank you for bringing healing into my life. Help me to be true in the telling of how you have healed me. May the glory of your character at work in humble lives, shine through. Amen.

Kathy

 

 

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Exodus 29; John 8; Proverbs 5; Galatians 4

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

John 8:1-11 (NLT)

The compassion and forgiveness that Jesus displays here always surprises me, but it shouldn’t.  That is his character: one of unconditional love and forgiveness.  I wonder how often I am quick to assume that Jesus would shun me or punish me for the way I behave when in reality his reaction would be one of grace and forgiveness.  Jesus, help me to fully dwell in and understand your character.  Forgive me for being quick to superimpose my misconceptions about you in my life.

In the end you will groan in anguish
    when disease consumes your body.
12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
    If only I had not ignored all the warnings!
13 Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers?
    Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors?
14 I have come to the brink of utter ruin,
    and now I must face public disgrace.”

Proverbs 5:11-14 (NLT)

There are often mornings I wake up for work, too tired to do anything but drag myself out of bed 15 minutes before I have to go and get myself ready.  On those days, I get to work on time, but I miss out on the valuable time I can have with the Lord if I get out of bed even 30 minutes early.  God wants to meet with me on those first quiet and precious hours of my morning and if I miss them, I am less aware of God’s presence throughout my day.  Waking up early takes discipline, but, oh, it is so worth it in the long run.  Lord, teach me discipline so that I might grow in you and feel your presence in a deeper way in my daily life.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Galations 4:4-7 (NLT)

I. LOVE. THIS. PASSAGE.  There is so much freedom and joy in it!  God sent his son to face the pain and the anguish of death and that bears much deep sorrow, but there is incredible hope in it also!  God did this for a reason; he did so to adopt me as his own child.  I am part of God’s family and because of that I never again have to worry about being captured and controlled by sin.  I am an heir to the throne of THE king and that is something to sing and dance about (cue dance party music)!  Lord, thank you so much that you have not only saved me from sin but you have adopted me as your own child.  Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your treasured family.  Teach me to truly know and believe that I am yours everyday forever, especially in the deepest depths of my darkest day.

 

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Exodus 28; John 7; Proverbs 4; Gal 3

Exodus 28:3 -Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest.

What is wisdom? How do you get it?  As the verse above states, sometimes we are given wisdom from God.  Somehow we just KNOW something that we can’t explain.  Often, someone will share something they’ve learned with us based on their own experiences.   It can come from something we’ve read that has had an impact on us.  Often, however, wisdom comes from learning and experiencing life for ourselves over a period of time.  There is truth to wisdom.

I thought of these questions as I read through Chapter 4 in the book of Proverbs. I know much of the book is attributed to Solomon.  There is nothing biblical about this, but I imagined Solomon sharing about a time when he was a young boy, sitting with his father, David, as he imparted words of wisdom to his son.

3-7: When I was a boy in my father’s house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, “Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.  Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.  Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.  Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

 14-15: Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men.  Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.  

20-22: My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.

23: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

We are not born with wisdom, it is acquired over time. Some of us have attained it the hard way.  I can honestly say if I have any wisdom at all, it has come from learning things through making many mistakes, getting banged up because I didn’t take someone else’s advice, and just general immaturity.  Did my parents sit me down and try to warn me, to share with me all they learned?  Yes.  Unfortunately, I was not wise enough to listen to them.  I had to find my own way.  I am smiling as I think of a perfect example of this.  When I was 6 or 7, my best friend was Connie.  She lived across the street and we played together almost every day.  One day I wanted to go across the street to play with her but my mother said I couldn’t because she had Chicken Pox and if I went around her I might get it too.  But I snuck over to her house and played with her anyway.  Guess who got the Chicken Pox a week later?  My mother was wise to warn me, my not listening was “folly” (a word used quite often in Proverbs). That experience taught me the wisdom of staying away from someone contagious!

That is a silly example, no doubt, but experience has taught me other things as well. Through the years I’ve learned the wisdom of “guarding my heart” and “avoiding walking in the way of evil men”.  There is wisdom in learning that God has set in place a certain order of things, a process, and trying to shortcut or bypass this can have serious consequences.  As my daughters have grown and they’ve encountered similar situations, I have tried to share the lessons life has taught me.  Sometimes they listen; sometimes they have to find their own way to wisdom.  God can say the same thing about me!

Proverbs 9:10 tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” This wisest thing I have ever learned is that I don’t know everything but I have a Father who does.  If I am wise, I will seek His advice, direction, and purpose for my life for He alone can direct me in the path I should take.  If I am wise, I will give Him complete control.  I am sorry to say, I am not always wise!

Abba, Father, any wisdom I have has come from You. Through studying Your Word, I learn what is good for me and what is not.  I learn where you set your boundaries and why they are good for me.  By trusting your process and timing, I change and grow. I thank you for your patience over the years as sometimes I am a slow learner.  Lord, please give me ears to hear and a heart ever open to You.  In Jesus precious name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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