Monthly Archives: April 2012

1 Samuel 19; Psalms 23,59; Luke 21:1-19

Today we read Psalm 23, one of the most famous/popular of all time. I was just thinking today about how certain passages just cut through all the clutter in my brain and truly touch my heart and my soul. To me this is one personal evidence that Scripture is truly unique in its power. Yet sometimes popularity can take the beauty out of passages, so I take the time to truly soak this one in today.

Just in case you are like me and sometimes  don’t do the reading associated with the plan, I will copy/paste it here because it is so beautiful. (And it’s short… 🙂 )

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

One thing that I like about this reading plan is how the Psalms are read in context with the events that inspired them. (At least I think that is how it works!). I focus on verse 4. Sometimes things went swimmingly for David, other times not so much. But in every circumstance, he was comforted.

I did a little research into the rod and staff of a shepherd. I had always thought of the rod being more for discipline, but apparently the rod has many uses. The rod was used to mark, separate, guide, protect, and restrain as well as discipline. And we are all familiar with images of the shepherd using the staff to rescue his sheep. Then I take a moment to remember the times God rescued me, and I am grateful. Then I think about that “prodding”, which at times saved me from falling in the crevice to begin with, and again I am thankful.

Thank you, Lord, for being my  Good Shepherd.

suegraff

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1 Samuel 17,18; Luke 20:27-47

As a shepherd boy, David had repeated experiences of battling foes to save his flock. Each encounter provided skill and courage to face the next one. When an entire army of Israelites shrank back from a taunting giant, David was confident in his abilities to stand up against an enemy. He also knew Who stood with him.

A few weeks ago, I took my girls to get their ears pierced. My youngest went first, and as the first earring went in, she howled and wailed in pain. There were a lot of candy promises to get the job finished. My oldest, in contrast, sat calmly in the chair and didn’t flinch when the piercing gun fired. No change of expression. Not a single utterance. She has had many unpleasant (at times horrifying) medical experiences in her young life. As a mom, her lack of sound or expression saddened me that she would be so toughened, so young. At the same time, I felt a reverential fear of the Lord how He has prepared her for the race marked out for her. And I wonder of the battles she will face. I hope she is always aware of Who stands with her.

And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!–1 Samuel 17:47 NLT

In introspection, life events have made my heart tender. The battles I’ve faced I know prepare me for harder tasks ahead. And when an enemy wounds, I know (and I forget, and then I know again) that the battle is the Lord’s. I heard a speaker recently remark of forgiveness: the one who takes away can never fully restore–only the Lord can.

Father God, I can’t discern between unforgiveness and hurt. Can one forgive and still feel pain? Do remembrance and pain imply unforgiveness? Lord, I pray that I can hand over victory to you and stop trying to solve the unsolvable myself. You work toward the good of all who believe in you. When an offender can never erase memory or loss, you restore. Help me to turn my battles over to you, to move on in peace, to trust in you. You prepare us all for bigger battles. And you stand with us. Thank you!

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 15, 1 Samuel 16, Luke 20:1-26

Read at – www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1Sam15,16;%20Luke%2020:1-26&version=NKJV

It’s all about Authority. God has Sovereignty. Man pretends he has it.

Jesus, the chief cornerstone, says: Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder. Luke 20:18

1 Sam 15:10-11        The Word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night.

                  What is the cause of grief? SIN. Turning away from following God. Not obeying God fully in action and heart. Saul disobeyed God’s sovereign ruling because Saul thought he had sovereignty.

                 Samuel grieved. Seeing a lack of God’s glory grieves God and His children. Watching rebellion against God and its terrible, painful effects is heartbreaking. Only the LORD can fix the root of the matter, which is why we cry out to the Lord Jesus Christ. ~1

               I relate in both ways: 1) Being like Saul and grieving the Lord Jesus Christ (Psalm 51:9-10, ~2)   and 2) Grieving Greatly as God’s daughter, crying out to the Lord for months.

The Lord Delights when I obey His Voice.  ~3

1Sam 15:22-23         Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, …For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”

Rejecting God = Not doing the Word of God = Witchcraft, Iniquity and Idolatry.

God rejects people who reject Him, Who is the Word of God. ~4

1 Samuel 16             The Lord said …”I have provided Myself a king… Do not look at his appearance… I have refused him…the Lord looks at the heart.”

               What does God see when He sees me? Spots on my face, spots in my heart or Jesus’ Righteousness? ~5                A dirty mind or one washed and renewed by God’s Word? ~6  Under Whose Sovereignty do I live?  ~7 , ~8      

                 1 Samuel 16            The Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him…and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.

Hate for God incurs wrath from God – yet there is mercy from God, temporarily.

1 Samuel 16             the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him. … “Look, I have seen a son … and the Lord is with him.” … So David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armorbearer…. David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.

               2000 years ago the religious leaders challenged God, they asked Jesus “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things?”  Not being satisfactorily answered, Jesus told them a parable: “A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son.’”  This angered the religious ones who “that very hour sought to lay hands on Him” Luke 20

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” Psalm 24:1

              Saul was to follow the Owner’s commands, but he acted like he was The authority. David had a heart after God, so David knew he was not the Authority and he lived to please the Lord. The religious leaders believed they were The authority, so they challenged Jesus’ Authority, then sought to kill Jesus. ~9

                Lord Jesus, it is so obvious that I have no rights or authority. But I do have position. It is a Very High position. I am Your daughter and part of the royal priesthood. I have not earned it. You have bestowed it because of the Blood of Jesus, His Atonement on the cross.   ~10

               In that position, through the veil of Jesus’ Body, I come before You, Lord God of the Universe, please have my family cherish their precious relationship with You. Have them learn of Your Grace, Mercy and immense Forgiveness so that they do not compromise or violate their relationship with You Lord God. Amen.   ~10

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20

~1 Psalm 84:2, Psalm 18:6, Psalm 34:17, Psalm 56:9, Psalm 57:2, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

~2 Isaiah 1:18, Psalm 103:12, 1 John 1:8-10

~3 John 10:1-7, 27-30

~4  John 1:1-4; John 1:11-14; John 1:29; John 10:30; Hebrews 1:3; Ephesians 4:30; John 14:24; John 15:5-11; 1 John 5:3; James 4:8; 1 Peter 1:14; Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 28

~5 2 Corinthians 5:21, Psalm 132:9, John 15:3, 1 Corinthians 1:30, Romans 3:23-26, Revelation 7:14             

~6 Ephesians 5:26, Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:20-24

~7  Hebrews 12:2; Psalm 29:2; Psalm 99:5; Psalm 28:7; Psalm 30:4

~8 2Cor 5:17, John 1:29, Galatians 5:19-26, Ephesians 5:8-11

~9 1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22, Hebrews 10:10, Matthew 27:50-54, Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 10:19-25

~10 John 3:3-21; John 1:12-14; 1 John 3:1; 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9; Hebrews 4:14-16; Ephesians 1; Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 103:12; 1 John 1:9; Matthew 11:28-30

Crystal (PsalmThirty4) 

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1 Samuel 13-14, Luke 19:28-48

Saul was 30 years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel 42 years. 1 Samuel 13:1

“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command. 1 Samuel 13:13-14

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Luke 19:38

Two Kings

Saul was 30 when he became king, yet so reluctant to rule, at first he hid behind baggage. He chose 3000 men from Israel. Saul provoked his enemies, literally tooted his own horn to get the glory for his exploits. Later he plotted to kill David when his fame surpassed his own. Eventually his arrogance would lead him to lose his rule to David. God promised David that his reign would never end.

Jesus, a king incognito, was 30 when he began his ministry. He chose 12 apostles. Jesus insisted God be given the glory, when he cast out demons and healed the sick. At the end of his three year ministry, he rode intoJerusalem on a donkey. The crowds declared his praise, but the religious establishment sought the death of this Messiah they refused to acknowledge.  Even a rolled away stone would testify to a risen Savior.

From the lineage of David, Jesus, fulfilled God’s prophecy. Saul’s kingdom did not endure. Christ’s kingdom endures forever.

I’m more like than Saul than Jesus. Consulting God sometimes, doing what feels right the rest of the time. Relying on my own strength for the “small stuff” which I never realize will snowball into big stuff. Eventually losing reign over my own little kingdom.

If King Saul can’t escape Samuel’s reprimand, what makes me think I can get away with entitlement befitting a princess? The Holy Spirit takes me to the woodshed repeatedly. Jesus took all the punishment for my sins on the cross, but I still need to put into action God’s saving work in my life, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. Phil 2:12 NLT

Father, forgive me, for most of the time I know not what I am doing.

yicareggie

 

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1 Samuel 10,11,12; Luke 19:1-27

Whenever I thought of this little man up in a tree, I focused on hospitality; on Jesus knowing his name; Jesus saying he would be a guest at Zacchaeus’s house; and Zacchaeus hurrying off with great excitement and joy to make preparations. This is a beautiful picture to me. I think it’s because I connect to joy and excitement at serving guests at my house.

Today I looked a little closer at the details, and I saw new things: Zacchaeus was a tax collector (a loathsome job); he was very rich; and when the crowd following Jesus heard the dialogue, they were displeased and grumbled, “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner.”

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. I don’t know who was in the room when Zacchaeus told Jesus he wanted make right his wrongs. Maybe it was a private conversation. When no one else was able to hear this man’s heart, Jesus did. Sweet Jesus knew this man’s name and knew his heart. And this, too, is a beautiful picture (and I’m not sure if it’s in spite of or because of a few ugly smears–not those of profession, status, or the man’s sin, but the rejection, mumbling and judgment of the followers).

At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person. After these signs take place, do what must be done, for God is with you.  1 Samuel 10:6-7 NLT, emphasis mine.

Lord, I am so very grateful that you look deeply into our hearts. The world can sometimes beat down with labels and condemnation, but your words encourage, lift up and assure that yours is the only opinion that matters. In the quiet or in the crowd, let yours be the voice I hear. Thank you that you know my name and my heart. Thank you that you change me from the inside out.

Courtney (66books365)

 

 

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1 Samuel 7,8,9; Luke 18:24-43

Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”). For he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!” 1 Samuel 7:12 NLT

Samuel set up a Rock to remember a time, a turning point in the lives of the Israelite’s where they turned away from foreign gods and put their faith in the one true God (1 Sam 7:3&4). My pastor once said that the biggest sin in the bible is forgetfulness. I am so forgetful…sometimes I think if I could remember where God has brought me from I would not lose hope so easily. The stone was a visual reminder of God’s faithfulness. What are those visual reminders in my life? I don’t have to look far to see one. It is the scar on my neck from when I had thyroid cancer. It was a dark time in my life, when I should have been trusting God, but instead I let the enemy’s lies overtake my mind. I don’t always want to remember it. But, God healed me and I can mark that as a turning point in my life. And as a friend once told me, it is a reminder of God’s faithfulness. I have many other stones in my life that I can mark as times when God has helped me. They remind me that I can’t do it on my own , that I need Jesus. Just like Jesus says in Luke how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is easier to thread a camel through the eye of a needle. Than the people asked, “Who has any chance at all?”“No chance at all,” Jesus said, “if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” Peter tried to gain some initiative: “We left everything we owned and followed you, didn’t we?”“Yes.” said Jesus,”and you won’t regret it. Luke 18:26-29 MSG

My faith will be spurred if I set up my own Ebenezers. So that it will be true of my life as Jesus says in Luke. “No one who has sacrificed home spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children-whatever-will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime. And then the bonus of eternal life!” Luke 18:30 MSG

What are the Ebenezers in your life?

Dear Father, I know that I have no chance at all as long as I am trusting in myself. Help me to trust you every day. And to remember those times when you have helped me. So that I can “press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Phil 3:14 NLT ) Amen

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1Sam4,5,6; Luke 18:1-23

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

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When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Luke 18:22-23

I have a strange relationship with the tension these kinds of verses cause me.  On the one hand, Jesus seems to be saying it is an easy thing to “receive the Kingdom of God” – it’s so easy – a child could do it.   On the other hand, he says to the rich man, you have to give away everything and follow me – not so easy sounding.

Of course that tension I feel is not by accident.  I’ve always thought that God puts tension in our lives to keep us from getting complacent. If we’re comfortable – if we’re just dialing it in – that’s when the enemy get’s in.

But, still, I struggle with the tension.  I know it isn’t about it being so easy a child could do it – it’s about how completely a child trusts – how completely open he is to hear the Word.  It isn’t about checking the boxes on your spiritual “to-do” list – it’s about truly following Christ.  The struggle for me is in reconciling the tension.  Am I supposed to be able to do that?  I feel like I should be able to.  I pray for help, but the tension is still there.

When I gave my life to Christ, I honestly made the link – I knew that moment was about accepting the free gift.  Acknowledging that I would never be able to earn Grace and that Jesus had to do it for me.  My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and I strive to live my life to repay what he did for me – but still – the tension.  Is it enough?  Am I doing enough?  Do I need to “serve the least of these” more? Do I need to give away every thing I own? I know I’m saved – because I truly believe what scripture teaches about salvation – but will He greet me with “Well done, good and faithful servant? ”

God – I want to hear that greeting.  Help me Lord to reconcile the tension and break down the walls of apathy in my life.  Lead me where you would go! Amen

Jim (jmitch1)

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