Monthly Archives: July 2011

Judg. 9; Acts 13; Jer. 22; Mark 8

To have life is to give it away.

It’s one of the paradoxes of the Christian life. To have control is to surrender it. To admit weakness is to find His strength. Life comes out of death. It’s an idea that has been repeated in my life in the past few days but one that I hope becomes a part of my soul and outward expression.

““If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” – Mark 8:34-35

Dallas Willard says this on the subject:

The sayings of Jesus above are most often taken as expressions of some ethereal truth for especially religious people.

Instead, they are mere observations about how life actually works.

As is so often the case with statements of Jesus, they say nothing about what we ought to do. They simply state how things are.

Anything with life in it can flourish only if it abandons itself to what lies beyond it, eventually to be lost as a separate being, though continuing to live on in relation to others.

Life is inner power to reach and life “beyond.”

If I am to live on and experience life to the fullest, I must abandon myself to God. Completely and utterly. I must give him my life if I want to preserve it. There is no use in keeping my life to myself, for myself. To do so is not only selfish and cowardly but according to Christ, but aimless and pointless. To live in abandon is the only way to truly live.

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Judges 8; Acts 12; Jeremiah 21; Mark 7

“But the word of God continued to increase and spread.” (Acts 12: 24)

This account in Acts could not have come at a better time for me.  On August 6, I will be taking my older four children to Haiti on a mission’s trip.  When I heard about the trip, I knew that I was supposed to take my children to share the love of Christ with the Haitian orphans.  I was elated as I thought about the trip and how it would transform our family.  Financial support soared in for us.  We raised money beyond the amount that we need to go on this trip.  Again, I was struck with the certainty that God wants us there.

However, as time gets closer, my old buddy, FEAR, has crept in.  What if something happens to us? What if we get malaria?  Typhoid fever? What if we have a horrible reaction to the vaccines or to the malaria medicine?  What if something happens to my two youngest children while they remain at home with their grandparents?  What if?  What if?? What if???  I am plagued with these!

The enemy is so real.  Satan seeks to steal and to destroy.  The last thing that Satan wants is for our family to go to Haiti and spread the word of God.  He will do whatever he can to try and mess with my mind.  And he has chosen to dredge up my old pattern – anxiety.  When God calls His people, Satan goes on the warpath.  Our family has a target on our backs (although in this case, my target is my mind).  I am comforted though, knowing that God is bigger than the Satan.  God ultimately has the victory.  How thankful I am!

So it is not by accident that my passage for the day is from Acts 12.  God’s word will increase and spread, and Satan truly can’t stop that from happening.  Just like God sent an angel to free Peter from prison so that Peter could keep evangelizing, God will be my Protector and my Defender.  I do not have to fear.  God wants me to cast my anxiety on Him because He cares for me.  How great it is to serve a God so powerful and loving.

Lord, I thank You for Your call to our family to go to Haiti.  May we be lights for You to the people there.  I pray that You would cover our family with the blood of Jesus.  Please bind Satan, Lord, so that he cannot flood my mind with fear.  Lord, You love my children more than I do.  Please hold tightly to them as we embark on this journey for You.  What an honor it is, Lord, to be able to serve You.  I love You, Lord.  In Jesus’ precious name,

Amen

If I may so boldly ask, would you, my friends, please pray for our family?  Our mission’s trip goes from August 6 – August 13.

Suzie (suzielawyer)

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Judges 7; Acts 11; Jeremiah 20; Mark 6

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”  He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.    Mark 6:4-6

 Jesus was amazed.  I am too.  Then again, not really.  Prophets were not appreciated by those who knew them best because those who knew them best were most familiar with them.  Short of death, familiarity might just be the most vile ‘gift’ we inherit courtesy of the fall.  It turns the extraordinary into the ordinary, the rare into the everyday, the special into the common.  It causes boredom and discontentment.  It is the source of so much contempt.  It makes the grass perpetually greener wherever you are NOT.  Its source can’t possibly be anything other than Satan himself.

Prophets weren’t born spouting prophecy.  They were born and grew up within families, among friends, and surrounded by a community of neighbors.  All of them first knew the prophet as an ordinary Jew for a long period of time before God gave the person in question His prophetic call.  By then, familiarity had set in within the family and community, and their ability to comprehend their family member / friend / neighbor’s new status was hopelessly compromised.

Jesus was of course more than a prophet.  He was the long promised Messiah, and He didn’t mind announcing it in ways unmistakable to Jewish ears.  Not only were His siblings and neighbors battling familiarity, they were also battling their misconceptions about the nature of their God.  As much as they may have believed that His thoughts were higher than their thoughts and His ways were higher than their ways, they never considered that maybe, just maybe, this One God revealed to them through Moses and the prophets was more complex in His internal nature (i.e. the Trinity) than can be comprehended by fallen human minds.  Their assumptions concerning God didn’t include His possible incarnation as a man, a Jewish Rabbi, hailing from a backwater region such as Galilee.  If the promised Messiah was really going to be God in human flesh, then it would most certainly be the flesh of a great conquering warrior king in the mold of David.

Familiarity.  False, unsupported assumptions about God, His nature, or His plans.  Either can play havoc with our ability to perceive truth.  Combined, they caused people privileged to spend many years living their lives with God incarnate to be thoroughly blinded to the Light of the World walking among them.

Dear God, please show me all the blessings You’ve given me that I’m blinded to because of the curse of familiarity, and give me the capacity to appreciate them as fully as they deserve.  Even more importantly, please destroy every assumption I have of You that does not come from Your own revelation provided in scripture.  Please let me always see You for who You truly are. Lord, open my eyes that I may see!  Amen.

Michael  (mmattix)

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Judges 6, Acts 10, Jeremiah 19, Mark 5

 And when He got into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him … and began to proclaim … all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled. Mark 5:18

 Obeying God’s Word, “doubting nothing”, causes God to Change things Amazingly for His Magnificent Glory!!

 Found at: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judg.%206;%20Acts%2010;%20Jer.%2019;%20Mark%205&version=NKJV

 Judges 6                   “Then the children ofIsrael did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years,” leaving “ no sustenance forIsrael” So “the children ofIsrael cried out to the LORD.” Therefore “the LORD sent a prophet to the children ofIsrael”, “ …  Now “the Angel of the LORD came … and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor! …tear down the altar of Baal that your father has …and build an altar to the LORD your God …and offer a burnt sacrifice.'” and “the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon”

                      One man or woman of God makes ALL the difference. The whole nation is turned around because one man believes what the Lord Jesus Christ says about him: “man of valor”. Gideon trusts God more than his breeding, circumstance, & personal propensity, SO he moves beyond his fear. Gideon acts out of love, which is obedience, to God. (1 John 4:18, 1 John 5:3, Christophany)

                         May I be that “one man”!  May You, O Lord, make many people that “one man” so that this nation is changed into fearing You, loving and serving You, and disbanding themselves from all idols and fearing enemies weaker than You! We need to be freed from our enemies within and without, and You, Lord Jesus, are our only Hope and Deliverer.

                        Please open my and my Christian sibling’s eyes and hearts to our bondage to the enemy surrounding us. We have false religions in our hearts. We offer sacrifices to the baals of our day, substituting time with You for TV, music, fashion, lust, anger and worse. We sacrifice our children who You gave to us for the godofpleasure. Enable and empower me and all of us to learn from You, lean on You, and obey You since we are to be the powerful army of the Lord of Hosts. Have me wait upon You, Lord God Almighty.

Obedience to the Word of God, a heart dedicated to serve the living God, incurs Holy Spirit empowerment.

 

Acts 10                      God gives instructions to the gentile Cornelius. Then God separately instructs Peter, telling him to “doubt nothing”. Both men do specifically as God commands. The Consequences? Gentiles are now brought into God’s flock by God’s Hand. “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.”  Without God’s intervention and obedient people the Holy Spirit would not have fallen as it did – for Great Spiritual Fruit!!    

                   Lord, I need to keep the main thing the main thing – You, salvation of souls from hell, and being attentive to Your Heart and Voice in my attitude, action and word every moment!

 

Jeremiah 19             “Thus says the LORD: I will bring such a catastrophe on this place, … Because they have forsaken Me and” … worshipped  “other gods” and “with the blood of the innocents … I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies” and “shall drive them to despair.” … “Behold, I will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear My words.”

                         Oh Lord! My nation, my people, my family, my self! May I not stiffen my neck to not turn toward You and Your Word!! May I and my people turn our heads toward You, away from our sins, in repentance to You!! 

                        I have seen in my life the repercussions of my own sins against You – and they last for decades! I am grateful that You burn a desire for Your Word in my heart that I would not sin against You, and that You heal my family, friends, and more! For me You have healed, changed, delivered and done so much more in my body, soul, mind and emotion ~ May I never stop praising You, the Unfathomable!!  

Consequences! Trust and Obey!!

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,  Acts 3:19

 

Mark 5                        “And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. …Jesus, Son of the Most High God…said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” …  Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand)…  they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. … Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.”   

                        “Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years,” … she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, … and said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.’”

                       “One of the rulers of the synagogue came … he fell at His feet and begged Him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.’ … some “came saying ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’ (Jesus) “said, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe.’ And He permitted no one to follow Him except” … (others) “ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, … Immediately the girl arose and walked”

                 Am I afraid of the power and effect of God in my heart and life? Do I prefer money to the priceless Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and the change He makes in my world? Should I disbelieve and mock what God has planned for Good? Should I discourage others from trusting the ALL Loving Jesus? God Forbid it!! Jesus fill me with Your Holy Spirit, that I would be Your instrument unashamed, fearless, and excellent in Your Hand my Master!! Alone for Your Glory!! Please protect, guard, fortify, and strengthen me and all Your servants Lord Jesus Christ!! I love You Lord Jesus!!

Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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Judg. 5; Acts 9; Jer. 18; Mark 4

Last summer, Bible reading refreshed me. That season of life was the start of a significant change in me from the way I thought, the way I saw, the way I felt to a desire for change. We put our house on the market. The weekly blogging and reading grounded me. My appetite for His word increased.

This summer, change is  underway. Our house is under contract. Our rooms are mazes of boxes. But unexpected bumps and pitches have knocked out the bottom of what I thought was sure in many areas of life. In my preoccupation I haven’t turned to the Bible as eagerly. Words that once read smooth seem veiled and foreign. I sit longer and stare at a computer screen.

Reading over Mark 4, the birds, the rocks, the thorns … I think of the terrain I’ve walked–sometimes rocky … sometimes thorny. And while it’s hard to see fruit in a trial, I’m grateful for the times of seeking Him, the times when life felt easier, to feed on Him. So that in these days when I am confronted by another surprise, I am reminded of who sustains and provides. Roots hold tight to the only thing that is sure: God.

Father, these days, these trials come as no surprise to you. And while I wake to the unexpected, you knew. Thank you for this life, intensified. I know you hear me. You have caught every tear. Your hand sustains me. You hold it all together. I praise you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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