Monthly Archives: January 2010

Genesis 32; Esther 8; Mark 3; Romans 3

Scripture

Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family. and I will deal well with you’:  I am not worthy of the least of all of the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown your servant;  (Genesis 32:9-10a NKJV)

Observation

Jacob was about to go see Esau again.  20 years had passed but time has not healed the painful wounds that had resulted from Jacob taking Esau’s birthright and his blessings.  Previously, Esau had vowed to kill Jacob as soon as Isaac died and now Jacob is stricken with fear.  His fear immediately brings a response, a Godly response, which is to pray.  He immediately appeals to God in his distress, and cries out to Him on the basis that He is God alone, and Jacob is “not worthy of the least of all the mercies and all of the truth” that God has given and shown to Him.  Suddenly, God is magnified and Jacob is reduced to what He is and what I am, a sinner desperately in need of His mercy and His truth.

Application

This week was a very difficult and discouraging week.  I had just learned that my company was going to be cutting 13,000 more jobs off the payroll in 2010 and the tension in the workplace was so thick that it seemed as if you could cut it with a knife.  Unlike Jacob’s response to immediately pray, instead of taking my burdens and concerns before God in unselfish prayer, I instead reacted with  fear and selfishness.  To make matters worse, I also took it all home with me, and very selfishly took out out my fears and anger on the people most important to me, my wife and my two children.

When will I ever learn?  When will I ever truly get it?  Just like in Jacob’s prayer, I also am not worthy of the least of all of the mercies and all of the truth that He has shown me.  I am a sinner, saved by grace alone.  I constantly struggle between my old sinful nature and my new nature.  As much as I love Jesus and as much as I long to see Him face to face, my old nature is not the least fit to stand before God.  That is why God has given me, in His merciful love and His infinite grace, a new nature.  The old one cannot be repaired.  It is dead.  Why do I keep bringing that which is dead to life?

Prayer

O merciful Lord, my beautiful and righteous God, Prince of Peace and Lord of all creation, would you magnify yourself in me and through me?  Make yourself so big in my life that I cannot even think of turning anywhere else but to you, not just in the fearful and dark moments, but in the joyous moments, too.  I am not deserving of your love God, but you continuously pour out your mercy, grace and love to overflowing in my heart and you even use my sin, my fear and my selfish pride as ways to bring glory to yourself.  You are so beautiful.  So wonderful.  So totally and completely awesome!

Teach me your ways that I may know you and find favor in your sight.  I want to know you more and more, every day of my life.  I want my life to reflect a life of intimacy and love towards you.  Lord, help me be disciplined in my response to difficulties and trials in life and help me to focus and trust in you for all things and immediately seek you first in everything.  Even when you do this, and my excitement begins to fade after you give me victories in my life, do not allow my passion, excitement and commitment to fade away.  Make my abounding joy in finding and being found in you!  Set my eyes on you and use the days you have given me and make them fruitful!

Thank you for loving me so much.  Thank you for being merciful and good.  Thank you for orchestrating all the circumstances in my life, yes, ALL circumstances, even the painful ones, as part of your master plan that you are beautifully and masterfully weaving together for your glory and for my good.

I love you so much, Jesus!

John (johnd7264)

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Genesis 31, Mark 2, Esther 7, Romans 2

Scripture

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”  Romans 2:1-4 NIV

Observation

When you point at someone else’s fault, there are three fingers pointing right back at you.

Application

Ouch! I don’t like to think of myself as a judgmental person, but when I read & think about these verses, I feel convicted that I am just that.

How often have I passed judgment on someone’s parenting skills or another person’s unhealthy food piled up on the conveyor belt in the grocery store line or yet another’s choice of clothing to wear to church? And, sadly, the list could go on.

Yet, I am FAR from perfect. How many times do I act more immature in my parenting skills than my misbehaving children? Is that me sneaking some chips or candy while the children are occupied in another room? Is my heart “dressed right” before God at church, even though I may be sharply dressed on the outside?

Prayer

Father, please forgive my judgmental attitude toward others. Help me to see others through Your loving and merciful eyes. Thank you once again for extending so much mercy and grace to me time and time and time again!

– Beckie (look2thehills)

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Filed under M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Romans

Genesis 30, Esther 6, Mark 1, Romans 1

Scripture:

Mark 1:35-39

35And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (English Standard Version)

Observation:

Everyone needs to make decisions, even Jesus. He made strategic decisions based on his mission. The disciples came looking for Jesus because there were still people in that town that needed healing and salvation. Yet Jesus went on to other towns and villages healing, preaching and casting out demons. And he verbalized that it was for that reason that he came. Part of his confidence in moving on most likely came from his time spent with the Father.

Application:

What has God called me to do? What has He called you to do? Many times we are side-tracked by very good things. Jesus could have gone back into the town he had been in the day before and continued ministry, but His strategy meant He had to move on. Many times we get caught up in doing good things, but not what God has called us to do. Some churches want to be all things to all people not realizing by diluting themselves they end up not being effective at all. That can happen to us as well. That’s why these times we spend with God are so important. They help us focus on what God has called us to do and with confidence we can go out serving Him more effectively. So, where do you need to serve today? Be about what He has called you to do.

Prayer:

Thank You for Your guidance in our lives. Thank You for calling us to a specific task. Help each of us to fulfill that task for Your glory. We pray these things in Jesus Name, Amen.

dmbaldwin

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Filed under M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, New Testament

Gen. 29, Matt. 28, Esther 5, Acts 28

Scripture …”All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matt. 28:18-20, ESV, italics added)

Observation This is the final verse in Matthew’s Gospel. It is Jesus’ post-resurrection, pre-ascension, final instructions to His disciples. Jesus is giving His disciples their marching orders; preach the Good News to all nations and make disciples… that is, teach them to be His students, and to be do-ers of the Word.

As if being a witness of the Good News was not enough, Matthew takes it a step further; I am to teach others to obey his commands. The reassuring aspect of this passage is Jesus’ promise to be with me as I carry out the mission.

Application When I think about the disciple-making element of the Great Commission, I find myself asking these questions:

  • Jesus has commanded me to Love others unselfishly, forgive those who mistreat me, pray without ceasing, and so many other things…  Am I learning to observe these things in increasing measure?
  • I’m called to teach others what I’ve learned, and I’ve only really learned what I’ve learned to apply. What am I applying?
  • I’m also called to be a student, in fellowship with other disciple-makers. I need to be prepared to learn from them. Am I allowing others to know me and to help me along this ‘narrow’ path?
  • Disciple-making involves both giving and receiving, it’s a team effort. Am I an active participant in the disciple-making process?

We are all striving to run the race well, and to finish strong. Some days I am able to help others learn and grow, I am making disciples. Some days, well, it’s just one of those days, and I need others to pick me up, encourage me, and teach me. On those days, I am the one in need of a loving and caring disciple-maker.

Many years ago, I ran a race on a team of about thirty runners. The finishing time was based on all the team members crossing the finish line – together. The stronger runners helped the weaker, the weaker runners gained energy and became stronger, the stronger runners stumbled while aiding others and became weak – it was a constant cycle of helping one another, of giving and receiving.

Some things in life are unattainable without the help of others. The abundant Christian life is one of those things. I find that having other disciples around me strengthens me for the journey, and without that fellowship, I fear I may have stumbled and fallen out of the race long ago.

Lord thank You for the faithful disciple-makers You’ve placed around me. May I learn from them as they learn from You, and thank You for the opportunity to pass on what I’ve learned to others who travel this path with me. Amen.

Paul

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Filed under M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew

Genesis 28, Matthew 27, Esther 4, Acts 27

Scripture

“…who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”  Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “…I will go to the king even though it is against the law.  And if I perish, I perish”   Esther 4:14-16 (NIV, condensed)

Observation/Application

I am a HUGE Baltimore Ravens fan!  I relish gathering with family and friends and pulling for my purple-clad heroes.  In some small way I foolishly imagine that my cheering has an effect on the outcome of the game.  But when I have my wits about me, I realize that I am just a spectator, and occasional critic.  I watch, I evaluate, I complain – but ultimately I have no real impact on what is happening on the field. 

Esther could have stayed on the sidelines, too.  She was a beautiful young Israelite woman of modest roots.  She was  hand-picked by the king of the Persian Empire to be the queen.  She could have lived a cushy life eating bon-bons, watching Oprah, and generally being eye candy for King Xerxes.  But when Xerxes, unaware of Esther’s origins, decreed that all Israelites should be killed, Esther decides to take action.  Her cousin Mordecai challenges her, “Who knows that you have come to a royal position for such a time as this?”   Esther responds, “I will go to the king…And if I perish, I perish.”   She was willing to risk her life to save her countrymen.  She took action that could have resulted in the ultimate sacrifice.

How convicting Esther’s example is for me.  I am comfortable, too.  I have lots of reasons not to risk my lifestyle for a higher purpose.  So I watch sitcoms, I read political commentary, I cruise Facebook for what is going on in other people’s lives.  I see a need, think that someone should do something about that, and then I go back to what I was doing.  Reading Esther’s story reminds me of the words of Teddy Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, … who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Prayer

Lord, I confess that too often I am immobilized by fear, indifference, and just plain laziness.  It is my sincere desire to be a man of action.  When I see injustice, poverty, or relational discord I want to use my gifts to have an impact.  Use me to further your cause here on Earth.

Greg (gmd40187)

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Filed under M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament

Genesis 27, Matthew 26, Esther 3, Acts 26

Scripture:

31Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ” ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[c] 32But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

33Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

34“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

35But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. (Matthew 26:31-26)

Observation:

As the rest of the story unfolds, the prophetic words of Jesus are ultimately realized over the bold and sincere words of Peter and the disciples. Peter, convinced of his unwavering devotion, seals his own fate with a line of self-deception. While he may have been absolutely certain of whether he would deny Jesus or not in theory, he seriously underestimated his ability to deny him in action. The real biter here is that Peter and the crowd trust the bond of their own word over Jesus’. Even when Jesus knows and expresses that his flock will be scattered, they deny his pride-cutting words.

And Peter’s confession is not passive. He declares that he will never disown Jesus–even until death. While amped with passion and bravado, it is awash with foolishness.

Application:

Disown (v): to refuse to acknowledge as belonging or pertaining to oneself; deny the ownership of or responsibility for; repudiate; renounce.

While Peter’s confession of Jesus as Christ was verbal as was his disownment, I am pressed to examine my own renouncement of Jesus in action. Aside from the fact that my name rules out the assumption that I am of any other religious persuasion, I generally make it a point to let people know I am a Christian. I wear the cross, I say “thank God,” I slip in mention of my church, I talk about my religious associations in most typical conversations. I confess to know Christ.

Despite these cordial sentiments, I wonder how much my confession of Christ speaks in the execution of my actions. How often do I trust the bond of my confession over his expectation of my imperfection? Jesus knows my frailty and affinity for my heart to deny his. He doesn’t expect me to be perfect. But he wants me to be. Far too often, I, like Peter, trust my gut convictions, spiritual fervor, and confessions over the very person of Christ.

Prayer:

Jesus,

Help me to come to terms with my own nature and ability to fail. Let me not trust my strength, but admit weakness and trust Your Word. I want my confessions of You in word and deed to align. I trust You. I find no confidence in my own flesh, but assurance in Your love for me.

christiancourier517

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Filed under Matthew

Genesis 26, Matthew 25, Esther 2, Acts 25

Scripture:

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)

Observation:

Before Andy and I had been married long enough for him to know better, he occasionally invited people over without my knowledge. “But he doesn’t care if the house is clean, Honey! We’re just watching football.” “You don’t have to fix them any food. I’ll tell them to eat before they come.” Andy realized, quickly, that when it comes to company (and many other things), I don’t like to get caught unaware.

Application:

House guests are one thing, but spiritually speaking, being caught unaware can have eternal consequences. When Christ returns, I want to be found faithful. Obedient, and bearing fruit for the kingdom.

Prayer:

God, keep me mindful of you! Fix heaven in my mind, and eternity in my heart. Let me not be caught unaware. Amen.

amystorms

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