Monthly Archives: September 2011

1 Kings 2; Gal. 6; Ezek.33; Ps.81,82

We called it “The Brownie Experiment” when I set my eight year old loose in the kitchen with measuring cups and spoons and a variety of ingredients laid out before her.

“We’re making brownies,” I said. “Without a recipe.”

This lesson, a parallel of sorts, how we live life thinking we know the components that make it good, successful. We can add too much of a good thing, or perhaps something that doesn’t belong, things that make a batch off.

David charges Solomon: “Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go.” (1 Kings 2:3 NLT)

These scriptures today remind me of how God wants the best for his children. He gives us the choice of how to do things, and the results are ours.

“You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” Galatians 6:7-8.

I explained to my daughter, we have an idea of the things that make up a good life, but we should hold those things up to God’s Word to see what He says about them.

Lord, I’m thankful that You do not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, but want repentance and life for all. I’m thankful for Your Word in my hands, so that I don’t have to figure out this life on my own, and Your Spirit in my heart.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings1; Galatians 5; Ezekiel 32; Psalm 80

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit,  and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.   They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”  Galatians 5:16-18

Some may wonder how will they know if they are living by the Spirit versus living by the law.  Living by the law or under the law is like following  rules, only not following them because they are the rules but because you might get caught not following the rules.  Take the speed limit for instance, does a person go the speed limit because they want to or because they have to.  Living by the Spirit is like going the speed limit because you want to, not because you have to.   When you are led by the Spirit you don’t feel the need for speed on the highway, you’re happy to cruise, taking in the sights, the sounds and feeling with wind in your face.  Those fruits of the Spirit, the peace, joy and self control are abundant when you are led by the Spirit.

Now turn that around and look through a different lens.  A person sees the speed limit and ignores it, choosing to speed down the road of life.   Then they see someone ahead of them going the posted speed, obeying the law because they want to, what do you think they feel?  Maybe jealous because that other person seems so peaceful.  Then comes hatred for those silly rule followers.  Do you think the speed racer person is filled with kindness?  how about patience?  goodness?  Yeah…no!  More like fits of rage and selfish ambition.  And you thought road rage was a new thing?   Oh and while  haul’n down the road of life, breaking all kinds of rules, just because they want to (that’s the sinful nature by the way) the only sights a person might take time to enjoy is something they shouldn’t be looking at.   Like that pretty car in the next lane, “humm…why can’t I have one like that”  they might begin to wonder.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passion and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  Galatians 5: 24-25

So is it just a given that if we belong to Christ Jesus that we will be led by the Spirit?  Well my car has four wheels and is designed to take me where I need to go, but only if I start the engine, put gas in it and steer it in the direction I want go.  So maybe accepting Jesus as my savior starts my journey, but I have to put fuel in (the word) and I need a driver to lead me in the right direction, that would be the Spirit.  So maybe not so much a given as it is a decision to follow and a be submissive to be led, not because you have to, but because you want to.

Father God I praise you for providing a Savior for my sins, thank you for your word to nourish and enrich my life, and thank you for the Spirit that guides me through my life so that I can produce sweet abundant fruit for your glory. Amen.

Cindi

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2 Samuel 24, Galatians 4, Ezekiel 31, Psalm 79

David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” 2 Samuel 24:10

 We are mocked by our neighbors, an object of scorn and derision to those around us. 

O Lord, how long will you be angry with us? Forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire?  

Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you— on kingdoms that do not call

upon your name.  

Do not hold us guilty for the sins of our ancestors! Let your compassion quickly meet our needs,  for we are on the brink of despair. Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the glory of your name. Save us and forgive our sins for the honor of your name. 

Why should pagan nations be allowed to scoff, asking, “Where is their God?” Psalm 79:3,5,6,8-10    

I was in jail yesterday, leading a bible study for the ladies inside. We talked about the attitude of the inmates toward the things of God. Those who showed interest in studying God’s word expected to be mocked. One believer said the hardest thing for her was listening to the unbelievers mocking one another day after day. Their cruel behavior created an oppressive atmosphere. She usually buried her head in a book.

At the end of our discussion, we prayed for God to touch everyone in the jail – officers, residents, sinners all.

Others scoff. We cry for justice from the sins of others. From our sins, we cry for mercy. In God’s eyes, all sins are the same. They deserve both justice and mercy.

Unlike David, Jesus was guilty of nothing, but like David, he didn’t want to see his people suffer. Jesus took the punishment for all the sins of the world. The mockers, the scoffers, and the disobedient are all like sheep gone astray. We all deserve justice. We all need mercy.

The pure sinless blood of a sinless Savior washes away the stain of all our guilt. Based on faith alone, we receive mercy.

yicareggie

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2 Sam. 23; Gal. 3; Ezek.30; Ps.78:38-72

But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Gal. 3:22

I’ve been writing a lot lately about sin.  There are two reasons for this, I think. 1st, in the book I am reading, The Reason for God, Timothy Keller spends a lot of time discussing sin, and 2nd, I think God may be trying to tell me something.

Of course I know “I’m a sinner,” the scripture is very clear on that. But I’m beginning to truly realize that it goes a lot deeper than just those words.  What Keller attempts to do (very well I might add) is explain that our sin is inevitable. We cannot not be sinners.  And here’s the kicker –  trying to get through life “working” our sin away actually leads to even more troublesome sin.

This last part really hit me.  I see this in my life a lot.  Just last week I was struggling with judgment of strangers thinking how righteous I was that I wasn’t engaged in similar behavior. I read what Keller had to say on the subject of self righteousness, and then read today’s scripture, and my heart fell. My sin is just as bad.

God doesn’t want the self righteous – if he did – Heaven would be full of Pharisees.  God wants us sinners. And he wants us to know we are sinners and that there is no way around it.  We can’t make our selves “worthy” of His grace. All we can do is have faith in Christ and He forgives our sin. As Paul says, “…what was promised [the gift of grace] …might be given to those who believe. ”

Blessed Redeemer – It is truly amazing to me that you can show me in one moment that I am a sinner, not worthy of your grace, yet, in the next moment, give me that grace freely.  That mix of sorrow and joy is something to behold. Thank you God! AMEN

Jim (jmitch1)

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II Samuel 22; Galatians 2; Ezekiel 29; Psalm 78:1-37

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation.  He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior – from violent men you save me.”  II Samuel 22:2-3

“They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.”  Psalm 78:35

“On Christ, the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!”

Recently, bad weather has become the norm in this part of the country.  Bad news is the only news on the radio.  The value of the currency we use diminishes between our trip to the ATM to withdraw it and using it to pay for fuel or groceries.  People talk about the economy hitting “rock bottom”.

How comforting to know that there is a solid source of peace and strength.  Though the world around may seem to be falling around us, as believers, we can cling to the Old Testament promise…”my God is my rock”!

Thank you Father, for your unfailing faithfulness and love,  Amen.

Karen

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2 Samuel 21; Galations 1; Ezekiel 28; Psalm 77

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age…”  Galations 1:3,4

How quickly my eyes skim over the words grace and peace to you,  but Paul thought them important enough to begin each letter with these words. Early Christians would regularly greet one another with these simple but powerful words.  Those two gifts are Paul’s sincere wish for his people.  How ironic that almost immediately after these words,  he launches into correction, discipline and addressing conflict within the early church.

I’ve been around folks who offer a false grace and peace that is conflict free.  I think Dietrich Bonhoeffer called that “cheap grace.”  No,  I want the real thing even if it means I have to be called to task and especially if it means I get knocked off my throne.  As much as I keep trying to climb back up there, in my heart of hearts,  I know that’s not where I belong.  Ezekiel just told me so (28:2).  So I will live in this community of believers and learn to love and be loved in the midst of personalities that are compatible and incompatible with mine and watch how God moves among us and makes us more like Him.  Will His wonders never cease?

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2 Samuel 20; 2 Corinthians 13; Ezekiel 27; Psalms 75,76

As I read all four passages today I see so many themes that run through them all and have no idea where to start…

Humility/ Arrogance

            Obedience /Disobedience

                            Justice

                                          Mercy

                                                       War /Peace

                                                                       Warning / Accountability

                                                       Glory

                                          Forgiveness / Second (and third) chances

In Psalm 75 we are warned against boasting and reminded that it is God who judges and exalts (warning…  arrogance….)

In Psalm 76 we are reminded of the greatness of God and that He alone is to be feared (glory…).

In 2 Samuel 19 we see the foreshadowing of a king that gives forgiveness to those that show humility and honor him. The arrogant “older brother” types are insulted, but David reminds them the he is the king and he chose to forgive (second chances…).  In Chapter 20 we see a leader that is put off by this forgiveness and commands his subjects to reject David and go their own way (disobedience…  arrogance… ), which turns out to be a very bad choice (justice…). We also see one of David’s subject’s disobedience and the gruesome price he paid for it (more justice….).

In Ezekiel 27 we see a warning against Tyre.  We read verse upon verse about their wealth (arrogance…), then we read verse upon verse about their destruction and we are reminded about the fragility of wealth as the world provides (warning…   justice…).

In 2 Corinthians 13 Paul says that he has warned the Corinthians about their sins twice and has chosen to warn them a third time by letter before he arrives (third chances…) so that they have time to correct themselves before he arrives. He closes his letter urging them to rejoice, and to ”strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”

King David “won over the hearts of the men of Judah so that they were all of one mind.” (2 Samuel 19:14a). If Jesus would truly win over our hearts, then maybe we will be of one mind and live in peace as Paul tells us. This is my prayer today.

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