Monthly Archives: June 2011

Joshua 2; Psalms 123-125; Isaiah 62; Matthew 10

They said to Joshua, “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.” ~ Joshua 2:24

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. ~ Matthew 10:16-20

Resting in God’s will doesn’t always guarantee smooth sailing. So often as the Israelites came to battle against another country they would have clear signs that God was leading them (or not). Their victory dominated to such an extent that God’s power struck fear in the hearts of their enemies (interesting side note that the other people all recognized that the power of their God won the battles, not necessarily the power of their army).

Flip over a few hundred years to the New Testament and Jesus, God the Son, sent out his disciples directly. No prophets needed to discern God’s will there. I love the reassurances of Christ amid the reminders of the Old Testament take over of the Promise Land. Israel endured battles, victorious, but they were still at war with all the violence and pain that it entails.

Disciples went out into the spiritual battlefield. 

We do the same.

The end result is guaranteed victory, but some days it is easy to forget that. I sure don’t face arrest or floggings, but do sometimes get a cold stare or a retort adorned with cynicism.

Sheep among wolves. I feel that at times.

Victory in the end, but right now the battle rages. Staying shrewd and innocent, and trusting that God will give me the strength to speak when my own words fail. I don’t need to craft the answers. He will give them. I don’t need to wonder if I have the strength to stand in face of that unbearable opposition. He will be my support.

Despite the counterattacks I should have the same confidence that the spies exhibited. God’s power is melting hearts still today.

Father God, We live in times of such fierce opposition to the gospel. Such blatant apathy and animosity to Your Word and Your Son. I know how the story ends though, and I need to continue fighting. Keep this sheep determined to stand for you. Thank you, Lord, for the evidence of your strength and working each day. ~Amen

Erin (5intow)


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Filed under 66 Books, Joshua, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament

Joshua 1; Psalms 120-122; Isaiah 61; Matthew 9

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.  While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.  When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.  Matthew 9:9-13

In responding to the Pharisees who are questioning him about eating with “tax collectors and sinners”,  Jesus responds “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”  I have been pondering this for the last couple of weeks.  What are the key differences between mercy and sacrifice?  I came up with three.

First, mercy tends to require responding to needs “in the moment” whereas sacrifice is often provided in a planned manner.  A merciful person sees a person in need, recognizes the needs, and responds to it.   A sacrificial person often plans ahead to give of their resources (time, money, and talents).  There is certainly nothing wrong with giving sacrificially unless it becomes so ritualistic that the act of giving is perfunctory.

The second difference is the focus of each.   The primary focus of  mercy is on others.  Jesus came to seek and save the lost.  He saw a need and responded to it.  The primary focus of sacrifice is on the person doing the sacrificing.  Again, there is certainly nothing wrong with sacrifice as long as one doesn’t use it to shine the light on their good deeds.

That’s where the third difference comes in.  It’s a difference of attitude.  A person focused on mercy is likely driven by an attitude of compassion.  A person focused on sacrifice is likely driven by an attitude of self-righteousness.  I believe this is what Jesus was getting at when he chastised the Pharisees.

I am a person where sacrifice (even self-righteousness) comes easier than mercy. 

  • I can plan my time around “doing the Lord’s work”, but I don’t respond willingly and cheerfully when my life is “interrupted” by a person in need.
  • I have contempt for those “gaming the system” and fail to realize that many of them are some of the disenfranchised who are in need of mercy and compassion.

Jesus’ words were intended for me, as well.

Lord Jesus,

Forgive me when I become self-righteous.  I am just as much a sinner as those on whom I sometimes look down.  Give me an attitude of mercy and compassion.  Give me eyes to see the need and a heart to respond in the moment.  Amen.

Greg (gmd40187)

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Deut. 33,34; Ps.119:145-176; Isa. 60; Matt. 8

Lord, if you want, you can make me clean.

The leper approaches Christ with a bold, expectant faith. His request assumes He is able but leaves room to question the desire of Christ to heal.

What does it mean for God to want to heal me? What does it mean for Him to be able? I want to learn more of His desire and ability to heal. I want to to believe and experience it.


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Deuteronomy 32; Psalm 119:121-144; Isaiah 59; Matthew 7

Matthew 7: 24-26

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Several years ago, I became dissatisfied with my relationship with God.  I read Scripture daily and prayed regularly, but I just didn’t feel a connection to Him.  I couldn’t figure out why I felt so distant to Him.  During this time, I became plagued with anxiety.  I feared and doubted.  I tried praying through my anxiety, but I got nowhere.  I became so frustrated and couldn’t understand what was happening.  Through many arduous weeks of journaling and reflecting, I realized that I had not completely given my heart over to God.  Because of events and some dysfunction in childhood, I had built a fortress around my heart to protect it from being hurt further.  I didn’t want to let anyone inside of it.  I had locked away pain and disappointment.  To give my heart to God would require incredible amounts of vulnerability on my part.  I just wasn’t sure that I could trust Him with it.  Viewing God as “Father” was a scary thought for me.  The connotation of the word “Father” was not one of tenderness or love.  It evoked fear in me.

What I learned through this experience was that I was indeed a Christian.  However, when I accepted Christ as a 16-year old, it was like I put Jesus on my pile of “trash” (sand).  I did not let Him in to the inner chambers of my heart where I had locked away pain.  My foundation was weak.  It was all of the hurts that had accumulated over my life.  The time had come for me to crack open my heart and let God have all of my “trash”.  I had to begin a journey of trust, learning who my Father in Heaven was.  I had to take a look at God’s promises to me — that He would never leave me.  He would never forsake me.  Nothing could ever separate me from His love.  I was sealed with His Holy Spirit.  God was Father to the fatherless.  He held my tears in a bottle.  Working through all of this was hard, but the reward was great.  I began to embrace God as my Father, believing that He is who He says He is.  I was able to open up my heart and allow Him to flood the whole thing with His love and healing.  My cracks were patched up by His blood.  My foundation changed.  No longer was God on top of my “trash”.  He now was holding all of my “trash” as He held my heart.  My foundation truly was a Rock.

This was a beautiful illustration for me as I was able to understand the redemptive power of my Lord and Savior.  His timing is perfect.  That work paid off greatly to me because in February of 2008 the rains did come.  The streams did rise, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the Rock.  When my husband died that day in February, my house stayed standing.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that because my house (heart) was being held by the Rock, I did not fall.  I was able to stand firm in my faith, knowing, trusting, and believing that God would take care of me… He would not let go.

Writing this, the Matt Redman song, “You Never Let Go” soars through my head.  God held on and is still holding on to me.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

Your perfect love is casting out fear

And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life I won’t turn back, I know you are near

I will fear no evil

For my God is with me

And if my God is with me

Whom then shall I fear



Oh no, You never let go through the calm and through the storm

Oh no, You never let go in every high and every low

Oh no, You never let go,

Lord, You never let go of me

(Verse 2)

And I can see the light that is coming for the heart that holds on

A glorious light beyond all compare

And there will be an end to the struggles

But until that day comes, we’ll live to know You here on the Earth

And I will fear no evil

For my God is with me

And if my God is with me

Whom then shall I fear



*You keep on loving and you never let go*


And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on

And there will be and end to the struggles but until that day comes


(REPEAT 1) (Chorus) x2

Thank you so much God, for being my Father, my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer. I will praise You all the days of my life.

Suzie (suzielawyer)



Filed under 66 Books, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, New Testament

Deuteronomy 31; Psalm119:97-120; Isaiah 58; Matthew 6

Our obedience to God’s law is featured in every passage of today’s reading.  As a follower of Christ who has been given credit for fulfilling the law by virtue of Christ’s work, I tend to think more about fulfilling God’s will for my life than living in obedience to His law.  Today’s reading makes a case against that.

Deuteronomy 31:

10 … “At the end of every seven years… 11 … you shall read this law before them in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. 13 Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”

To obey God’s law, we must know God’s law.  To know the law, we must read the law.  These verses call us to proclaim it and pass it on to our children.  It promises that hearing the law teaches us to fear the Lord.  This is not a fear to be avoided, but a healthy, respectful fear which comes only as one begins to understand and compare the deep, pristine ocean of God’s righteousness to the shallow, murky puddle of our own.

The Psalmist certainly took this to heart!

Psalm 119:

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.

This Psalmist discovered there was much more than fear of the Lord to be gained by knowing God’s law, but he also knew that knowledge of the law is not enough.  He combined knowledge with love of the law, and look at what he gained:

98 Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
104 I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
111 Your statutes are my heritage forever;
they are the joy of my heart.
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you;
I stand in awe of your laws.

Wisdom.  Insight.  Understanding.  Hatred for wrongdoing and evil.  A light unto his path.  True joy of the heart.  Refuge and protection.  Awe.

Is there anything else in all the world that can provide such an unique combination of benefits?

Isaiah 58

…“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Isaiah delivered a message from God about obedience.  He makes it clear that ceremonial obedience is all well and good, but only if it is accompanied by obedience to the full law, to the spirit of the law, and with an eye on God’s purposes for that law.  Only such obedience from the heart can provide all the blessings God intends the law to provide.

Jesus has much to say on obedience in Matthew 6, but it is well summarized in the first verse.

Matthew 6

1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Obedience to the law requires knowledge of the law, a love of the law, and attention to the spirit and purpose of the law.  Finally, Jesus warns us to keep the law with our eyes on God rather than men.

As His creation, God has every right to demand my obedience simply for who He is, so how amazing is it that He promises rewards for behavior that I already owe Him?  Yet if I do any good thing with my eyes on the fleeting approval of men, to enhance my reputation among my neighbors or co-workers or church family, I sacrifice the lasting reward God would have otherwise bestowed.  It seems like such a foolish choice, and yet I’ve failed here too many times to count.  My obedience to the law MUST be out of devotion to God and Him alone.

Dear Lord, thank you for giving us your law.  Please give me a deep and enduring love for it.  Teach me to unlock all the wisdom and insight you’ve wrapped within.  Please lead me away from obedience to the words or the law rather than its spirit, and let me obey out of pure love and devotion for you.  Amen.

Michael    (mmattix)

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Filed under 66 Books, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized