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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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.

christiancourier517

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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

*WHOM THEN SHALL I FEAR*

CHORUS:

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

*WHOM THEN SHALL I FEAR*

(Chorus)

*You keep on loving and you never let go*

(Chorus)

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

*STILL I WILL PRAISE YOU STILL I WILL PRAISE YOU*

(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)


			

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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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Deuteronomy 30, Psalm 119:73-96, Isaiah 57, Matthew 5

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, … to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, … that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you.” Deut  30:15, 20

 “Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:44-45

 www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deut.%2030;%20Ps.119:73-96;%20Isa.%2057;%20Matt.%205&version=NKJV

 Deuteronomy 30

                My God and Master, You make my choices clear. I can whole heartedly follow and obey You, or not. “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.” V. 11 (Ha ha ha! You are not calling me stupid! Thank You!!)

                 IF I “obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” V. 2,10    THEN “The LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, … “ v. 9  —  I see this in my life Lord God! And I give You all the Glory, as is Your due!

                 I regret I was here before You changed me: “your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish;” v.17-18  Please continue to seek after the multitudes that are here right now. Soften and change them to draw near to You and You will draw near to them. Please use me and send many more workers into the ripe harvest souls field!!   Luke 15:1-7; Luke 15:10; James 4:7-10; Matthew 11:28-30; Matthew 9:38

                 Vs. 6; I yearn to continually hear and obey Your Voice, that I may cling to You Jesus, for You are my life! You lay out my freewill and freedom in Christ options. Only in Christ am I free to live the blessings You lay out.

2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 1:23; John 1:12-14; John 3:5; Romans 8:1-2; 1 Corinthians 7:22; Galatians 5:1; Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 11:19-20; Ezekiel 36:25-29

 Psalm 119:73-96     The Word of God –

                 I cherish and delight in Your Word, Lord God! And I am comforted and cheered by Your people, those who fear You. V. 74,79 Your Spirit testifies between us that You are our God! You are in the midst of us when we are together! We sense Your Presence joyously! Romans 8:16, Matthew 18:20,

                 Thank You for faithfully afflicting me, to change me to be more Your desired vessel.  Truly, “Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.” I praise You Jesus for Your tender mercies which come to me, so that I live In You. I trust that You will  continue working on, in and through me so “my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes” v.80 Hebrews 4:12-13, Philippians 1:6

                 I praise You, Lord Jesus Christ, because “Forever, Your word is settled in heaven.” And “I am Yours”! v. 94 Thank You for saving me from hell!! Romans 8

 Isaiah 57

                 I finally understand, my Teacher, the difference between the wicked and the backslider. The first You cast to hell. The second is Your wayward child whom You correct to bring back to Yourself. You correct your own. Hebrews 12:5-11, Revelation 21:5-8

                 I know a “backslider” very well. Your Word comforts me, “For the iniquity of his covetousness I was angry and struck him; I hid and was angry, … I have seen his ways, and will heal him… lead him, …restore comforts to him And to his mourners. … I create the fruit of the lips …”  v.17-19 I am a backsliders’ mourner, and I rejoice in Your Promise! Thank You Father!

                 “But the wicked are like the troubled sea,  When it cannot rest, … There is no peace,”  Says my God, “for the wicked.”  V. 20-21 The only hope for the wicked is to choose You through Jesus Christ and be transformed into Your Child. John 14:6, John 14:27, Ezekiel 18:32, Acts 3:19, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 5:6-11, Psalm 51, Colossians 3:9-10

 Matthew 5

                 Such a rich chapter! ~Only studying one section: my enemies.

Deuteronomy 30:7; Psalm 119:84-86; Psalm 119:95; Matthew 5:44-45, Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19 

                 Oh My Sovereign God!! I understand. You curse, judge and have revenge. That is NOT for me to do. And I, too, was Your enemy before You saved me by the Blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore You command me to minister and pray for my enemies’ salvation. I am to do good for them to the point of them surrendering their sins to Your Son Jesus Christ. I am to love them as You direct for the Holy Spirit to reveal the saving knowledge of You, so they will be delivered from the evil one. When they are transformed into Your child, then I, too, will be blessed!!  And You, my Father, will be glorified!! Matthew 6:10

 Lord God Almighty, enable and empower me to do as You command in all of these passages. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I would hear Your voice and do Your will for Your glory alone. I praise You Lord Jesus Christ!! Amen.

 Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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Deut. 29; Ps.119:49-72; Isa. 56; Matt. 4

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of the law. Deuteronomy 29:29

It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes. Psalm 119:71

For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations. Isaiah 56:7

Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

Words are my life, my livelihood, my soul’s connection to God and the brethren. That may seem heady, but the truth is that, yes, I am a woman and therefore have several thousand words a day to speak. More importantly, I am aware of the power of those words when they are spoken. A simple phrase of affirmation can bring the biggest smile of relief to a client. A word spoken in a harsh tone can spoil an evening with my husband. A gushing of confession spilled out on my knees can open my heart’s door into God’s house of prayer.

If my words take on such life, how much more powerful is the revelation of my Lord’s words! He has revealed His will, written-down,  to communicate His love for me, His desire for my life, His displeasure in some of what I do, and His forgiveness and mercy toward me. I learn about words by reading His. I learn what to say, what not to say, when to speak and when silence thunders.

Sometimes I have prayed, Lord take my tongue and speak for me, just so I don’t make mistakes. But most times, I have had to experience the afflictions of gossip, manipulation, vindictive pronouncements, and other forms of hurtful speech to learn what God wants me to say. It is through the humbling experiences of sorting through the words of others that I hear His tender voice speak my name and teach me His ways. I cannot wait to hear what He has to say!

Janet (gueston66books)

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