Monthly Archives: March 2011

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

She bounds into a room and begins to present her case;  “some friends are getting together tonight and want to know if I can come hang out with them…can I go?”  Before she can continue any further she’s cut off by a harsh “no” and because this is not the first time she’s been cut off in mid sentence with a terse answer, she continues with her plea…again it’s a NO.  Bewildered  she turns and mutters the disrespectful words that leave a bad taste in her mouth and she begins to feel the rebellion well up inside her.

He who answers before listening that is his folly and his shame.  Proverbs 18:13

A son opens the door throws his back pack in before him and the he jumps in with a grin on his face ready to announce his great news; he made the basketball team, a dream he has worked for as far back as he can remember.  Expecting to be encouraged and congratulated for his hard work and perseverance, he hears a string of angry words strung out into the longest sentence he’s ever heard; something about grades, being lazy and “we know you can do better”.   As he tries to explain why his grade is so low and how he is working with the teacher doing extra credit…more berating follows and he hangs his head in shame; you see the window was down and his classmates heard the whole thing.

A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? Proverbs 18:14

A friend calls to confide in you … more like unload.  Doesn’t she know that she brings all of her problems on herself.  I mean what did she expect when she married a guy like that?  It’s time she knew the truth.

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.  Proverbs 18:8

A man comes home to find his wife in tears, confused he goes to her, gathers her into his arms and tries to soothe her.  When she regains her composure he inquires what is wrong; she begins her story and gets almost to the end…and he then tells her what he would do.  “You just need to…” “You shouldn’t let…” “If it were me…”

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.  Proverbs 18: 2

Father, thank you for the wisdom of Proverbs…I shudder to think where I would be without your words to guide me daily. Because of your grace and this book, I am a better wife, mom and friend.    Amen

Cindi

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Leviticus 1; John 20; Proverbs 17; Philippians 4

Scripture:

John 20: 24-29

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (English Standard Version)

Observation:

Many of us who are strong believers know this part of the resurrection story with great clarity. We can almost recite the words Jesus uses with Thomas. He gets his nick name from this passage. We call him doubting Thomas. Perhaps when you’ve doubted something someone has used that nick name with you. You’ve been called a doubting Thomas. Surprisingly we forget the entire life of Thomas. To take liberty here I want to share a verse about Thomas from another passage of Scripture. Elsewhere he was ready to die with Jesus. When Jesus told the disciples they were going to go to Lazurus’ home Thomas stated, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16). What a courageous statement! Willing to go to Jerusalem and die with Jesus. Yet we remember him for his doubting.

Application:

What am I known for in my relationships and conversations with people. Am I known as a person of great faith and courage or someone who doubts. Now in this passage all ends well. Thomas believes and renews his allegiance to Jesus and the Kingdom, but he is never-the-less known as the doubter. What will people remember about you? Me? Will it be those times we slipped in our Christian walk or those times we expressed great courage and influence? When we witness someone slipping will we remember those times or give them the benefit of the doubt and strengthen them along the way with our friendship and support? Lots of questions this morning that only you can answer. The way I choose to remember Thomas is in his moment of great courage! Hopefully I will do the same with those I know in the Christian faith that I serve with and grow with in the Kingdom. It is a choice. What will yours be?

Prayer:

Father God thank you for including Thomas in the biblical narrative. When I am given a choice as to how to think and respond to a Christian brother who has slipped or doubted help me remember his times of courage and strength. I pray my Christian friends will do the same with me. I do pray these things in Jesus Name, Amen.

dmbaldwin

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Ex. 40; John 19; Prov. 16; Phil. 3

I was going to write something about pride today – namely because of Prov. 16:18, but it dawned on me that I talked about my prideful nature in my last post.  In fact I went back a few weeks and realized I’d been spending a lot of time writing about me – writing about how flawed I am, or how lost I was.  And the thing that jumped out at me, was the use of the words “I” and “me” over and over.

Then I read the following –

Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30b

It really isn’t about me, is it?

Oh how you love us Jesus – so much so that you endured that pain – a pain greater then the horror of crucifixion – the pain of being completely foresaken by your Father.  In that moment when you knew Your work was finished, You knew you had to feel that utter loneliness so that our sin could be completely conveyed onto You.  How do we begin to thank You for that?  How could we ever be worthy?

No, it’s not about me – it’s about You!  Praise to you God!  Thank you for saving me! Amen

Jim (jmitch1)

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Exodus 39; Proverbs 15; John 18; Philippians 2

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  (Philippians 2: 5-7 – NKJV)

Let this mind be in you.  The mind of Christ is what should be in me.  What characterizes the mind of Christ?  Humility.

This verse also brings to mind a passage from a couple of days ago that I read as I was following along in the M’Cheyne reading plan.  It was a passage from the book of Ephesians that seemed to jump off the page and grab me by the throat.  The words read, “Walk worthy of the of the calling with which you were called.”  It went on further to describe that this walk resembled this…”with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1-2).   This is the mind of Christ that Paul writes should be in my mind.

I must be honest and say that one of the biggest problems I face in my Christian walk is humility.  It is a struggle for me to be meek.  I could appear humble on the surface to others, sure.  But the truth is that I desire more to stand on my own two feet and live life the way I want to live.    I do not like to turn the other cheek.  I do not like to be offended.  I get upset when I am ignored or my feelings are hurt.  I get angry when others seek to do harm to me.

Jesus, in humiliation, displays perfectly the mind I am called to have.  He left heaven’s glory and came down to this earth, all the way down to where I am, in my sin.  He made Himself of no reputation and He who was limitless, lived with the limitations of man.  There was never a single moment when He was not God, yet He drank the awful cup of my sin and paid the penalty that I should have paid.  It is beyond my comprehension to truly grasp what my Savior did for me that day on Calvary, but I know for certain, that He did it out of love.  It was His unfailing and perfect love that caused Him to humble Himself and become obedient unto death, for me.

O Lord, your word never ceases to put a great big lump in my throat, especially when I read the passages of the great and awesome love that you have for me, demonstrated by the humility that you displayed by coming to this earth and dying for me.  You who knew no sin became sin for me so that I might have a second chance and live the remainder of my days on this earth, learning and growing into fellowship with you.

You paid the price.  I am forgiven.  You have given me the greatest gift that I could ever have imagined or received and it is with tears of overwhelming joy and a grateful heart that I offer this vessel and this life as a love offering for you.

I could never repay you for what you have done for me but instead, I ask that you take this existence and form and mold my heart, my mind, and my life into one that pleases you.  Whatever it takes, whatever it is that you need to do in me to give me a mind like yours, whatever it takes to teach me humility, I pray that you do it.  I desire my love for you to supercede everything else that I cling to in this world and I know that it is only in you that this transformation could take place.

Magnify yourself in me, I pray.

I love you!

John (johnd7264)

This post originally published March 28, 2010.

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Exodus 38; John 17; Proverbs 14; Philippians 1

John 17: 20-23   I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message that all of them may be one, Father just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.

Glory.  Jesus uses the word (or some form of it) 9 times in John 17. When Jesus repeats himself, I pay closer attention.  Glory has been a stale church word in my vocabulary, but Jesus delights in this word. He takes what has been the domain of heaven and plants it deep into my life.

I’ve known moments of glory when I’ve stared into the starry night sky with no end, when I heard the first cries of my children as they were born, when I’ve sang “holy, holy, holy” with my brothers and sisters. Something shifted within me, and I became aware of the wonder and beauty of God so vast and immeasurable. It was more than this ordinary life and mind could take in so I took a deep breath and rested in it.

But here is the greater truth that works deep within me (get ready, this is rocket science), this glory exists and sings out whether or not I am aware of its reality. So whether I am hiking in the mountains, worshipping in church or heading off to work on a cold and rainy Monday morning, this joyous mystery continues.  Because of the grace of God and the work of Christ on the cross, this sinner is invited into the fellowship with the Father and the Son…24/7.

Lord, Thank you. Thank you for this beautiful mystery that you have called me into. Your love overwhelms me. This is not what I deserve yet you invite me to draw near. Thank you. Just as I am, I come. Amen

Kathy (klueh)

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Exodus 37; John 16; Proverbs 13; Ephesians 6

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” John 16:33a

This statement comes after some pretty heavy and confusing conversations between Jesus and the disciples. Jesus told them in the previous chapter that we must abide in Him. That’s a good foundation, because right after that He talks about how the world will hate his disciples. In this chapter Jesus talks about how he’s going to go away from them. But He will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit will guide them to all truth. Then He tells the disciples that they will abandon Him, but He won’t be alone because the Father is with Him.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b

Every one of us is very aware of the trouble we have in this world. Sometimes we are nagged by it, other times it just slaps us right in the face. Sometimes we see it coming and it builds, other times it comes seemingly out of nowhere. But it always comes. That much we can count on.

BUT

We can take heart! Jesus has overcome the world. We know the end of the story, and there is victory! Very encouraging!

So what do we do now in the middle of the story? Do we hide in a corner and wait? After all, it’s pretty scary out there….  I don’t think so!  Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the armor of God.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6: 10-13 (NIV)

Then we get the visuals. Remember the poster in Sunday School?

Belt of truth

Breastplate of righteousness

Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace

Shield of faith

Helmet of salvation, and the

Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I can hear God telling me that while I can surely have peace, I still need to be actively fighting, not against other people but against the powers of darkness that rule this planet. Peace while I’m fighting? Only possible with the armor of God!

Peace,

Sue

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Exodus 36; Proverbs 12; John 15; Ephesians 5

I sat at the end of our driveway one weekend as a barrier between my kids and the road. A neighbor drove by and pulled alongside to chat me. We talked about spring and mulching and gardening. He mentioned the trees he’d been pruning. His wife added how painful it was to watch him taking down branches, that the trees looked quite ugly but eventually would be shaped into something beautiful.

I think of this conversation now as I read Jesus’ words to the disciples. In John 15, this snapshot of time intimate as he calls them friends. I read of his deep love for them as he speaks of laying down life for friends, of times that will be hard, how they will be hated. He tells them to remain in him and they will be fruitful. He tells them to love each other.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11 (NIV)

And he’s talking to the disciples; and he’s preparing them for what’s ahead; and he’s saying to remain in him and to remain in his love; he says to keep his commands; and he’s telling them this so that his joy will be in them and their joy will be complete.

And I sort of stumble over joy. The disciples are going to be pruned. They are going to be hated. But Jesus tells them how they can have joy. Joy completed.

Circumstance pulls at my emotions–a house on the market, a death in the family, a series of misunderstandings between friends. This heart of mine, painfully pruned. I wince, and I know my condition is not so pretty. Joy precarious, framed between “when … then” thinking. When this house sells, then

I turn to the scriptures for truth and read the words of my Rock. He reshapes my definition and reinforces my source of joy. He reminds, “I am the true vine …” And I remember, yes. He commands, “Love.” And I plead with my heart, comply! He prunes away, that I could bear fruit–creating beauty from what is ugly.

Lord, how I would want to paint this walk with you rainbows. But it isn’t effortless or pain free. Days when I drop in a puddle to my knees, spent and wasted. You remind to remain in you–and I find myself clinging tightly. Thankful.

Courtney (66books365)

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