Monthly Archives: April 2012

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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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament

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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1 Samuel 1, 2, 3; Luke 17:20-37

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I have also lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:27-28 (NKJV)

I have been thinking a lot recently about what it means to give my children to the Lord, partially because of the testimony of a couple from my home church in Pennsylvania who lost three of their children in a car accident last year. And also because, for the past week and a half my newborn nephew has been fighting for his life in the hospital, and my sister- and brother-in law have been in the midst of facing the possibility of having to literally give their child back to the Lord.

Hannah gave up Samuel; she honored her oath to the Lord for remembering her and giving her a son. When he was weaned, Hannah returned her son to the Lord by giving the priest Eli charge of his life and his education.  In reality, according to God’s command in the Old Testament, all firstborn (sons) were to be consecrated to the Lord (Exodus 13:2, 13). Rather than requiring a human sacrifice as was required by the followers of Molech, the Lord, full of mercy, allowed for the children to be redeemed by the sacrifice of a lamb. In our modern time, there are no temples to turn our children over to and blood sacrifices are no longer needed to be made to redeem our children because of the ultimate blood sacrifice made by Jesus Christ on the cross.

So, how do I set my children apart for the Lord?

First, I need to make the choice to actively give them back to God as He requires. In reality, they are already His. God just entrusted them to me and my husband to raise and care for them. And when I became a believer, everything that is mine, past, present, and future, belongs to God. It is my job to relinquish them into His hands every day.

“…I will give [them] to the Lord all the days of [their] life…” 1 Samuel 1:11c (NKJV)

Second, I need to teach them diligently to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all of your strength,” in the midst of daily life, when I am sitting, walking, resting, and playing with them (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).  So that as they go about normal life as children and as adults, they will recognize that the Kingdom of God is within them:

For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21b (NKJV)

Third, I need to demonstrate to them the truth of living in the non-legalistic, freedom of the Kingdom of God. As my children grow, they will learn what being connected to God looks like and feels like; they will learn the benefits and freedom of being God’s sons and daughters, co-heirs with Christ. They will be able to choose to lose their lives in God’s agape love.

Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” Luke 17:33 (NKJV)

Fourth, I need to show them how to be in relationship with the Lord, how to worship, pray, immerse themselves in the Word of God. Not so they will grow up thinking that God is there solely to meet their own needs, wants, and desires, but so that they will be a part of the Samuel generation, a generation that seeks God’s face to minister to the desires of God’s heart (1 Samuel  2:11,13; 3:1). They will be among those children whose primary ambition is hear and obey God’s voice.

But Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child wearing a linen ephod.” 1 Samuel 2:13 (NKJV)

In Hannah’s life, because she obeyed the Word of the Lord and honored her oath, not only was she blessed, God giving her five more children, but the whole of Israel was blessed because Samuel was to become a prophet during a time in Israel’s history when it was rare to hear the Word of the Lord (1 Samuel 3:1). Samuel was also blessed by being among the few who knew the Lord directly.

And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.” 1 Samuel 2:26 (NKJV)

As I am obedient in setting apart my children for the Lord, I will be blessed like Hannah was blessed. But more importantly, my children will be blessed as Samuel was blessed.

Father, help me give my children back to you every day, regardless of what that means for their futures – the one that is born, the one in my womb, and the ones whose lives You’ve only planned. Help me care for them, nurture them, and teach them according to Your ways and in Your will. Help me Holy Ghost! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament

Ruth 1-4; Luke 17:1-19

Mustard Seed Faith

Sometimes it seems like God expects the impossible.  Jesus warns us of our fate should we lead others astray and exhorts us to offer superhuman forgiveness to those who have done us harm.  Like the disciples, I  know that following Jesus requires a supernatural infusion of faith and with them, I cry,  “Increase our faith!”  Jesus responds,

If you have faith as small as a mustard seed…  Luke 17:6

The tiny,  unassuming, easily misplaced tiny mustard seed which given soil,  water and sunlight quickly grows into a tree which shelters birds,  insects and other creatures.  I have mustard seeds in my life.  The question is if they are seeds of faith or disbelief.  Both grow and take root in my life.

Lately,  the mustard seeds have taken the form of moments when I am asked to give up my time,  my rights,  my will and what I think should be  mine.  Choosing faith over disbelief  doesn’t always come easily and when I get it right,  I want to make sure it was duly noted.   It’s just like at the end of the season kid’s sports banquet;  I want to make sure that I get the trophy for showing up and being obedient to the coach.   Ha! Jesus knows that my heart defaults back to a sense of entitlement and he tells me to trust Him with the outcome and not to expect accolades and applause for simple obedience.  It is not about me!  What He does promise me is that whatever amount of faith I can muster,  He will use for His good purposes.  He will use even the tiniest grain of faith I offer Him to bring His beauty,  healing and love to a dying and broken world.  May self preoccupation decrease and my faith and love for Him grow with each day.  He is faithful.

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Filed under Bible in a year reading plan, Luke

Judges 19, 20, 21; Luke 16

“Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”  Judges 21:25  Forgive me if I begin to sound like a femi-nazi, but this story in Judges illustrates the depravity and murderous spirit of Satan that make victims of women.  First the Levite (umm, from the tribe of priests, right?) gives his concubine to the crowd who wanted to sodomize him.  Now he had to know what her fate would be, rape and unmentionable acts that would lead to her death.  The Levite then uses this incident to arouse the nation of Israel to go to war against the Benjamites.  Though God eventually gives the victory to Israel, they come up with a plan to give the defeated tribe – you guessed it, women.  Imagine your daughter or granddaughter having fun dancing at a festival and some strange man forces her to leave with him to become his wife, and you cannot get the authorities to do anything about it. That is what happened in this story. Since they would not give their  own daughters for brides, Israel gave the Benjamites permission to abduct and force marriage on young virgins from another tribe during a festival where young women could be found (sounds something like the sex slave trade, to me).

Okay, I’ll be fair and say that women perpetrate many injustices, too.  It’s just that the weaker sex, or the disabled (as is illustrated in the story of Lazarus in Luke), are pawns in the games played by the powerful or wealthy, and seemingly without a prick to the conscious.  What is happening to humanity when we can turn our heads from injustice?  Or how is it that we will give a stamp of approval to brutality with only the barest of facts?  Why is it that we think God is on our side when our pain becomes unbearable, or our fears humble us, or our self-righteous anger emboldens us?

Without God we may, in fact, be like the impulsive, charge up the hill, throw the tramp to the wolves, kind of people who have not taken the time to seek the Lord’s will in matters of such magnitude.  A modern day example is the Trayvon/Zimmerman case.  “Hang ’em high and ask questions later.”  Isn’t that the American way?  In the end we may only be doing what is right in our own eyes.

By Janet

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Judges, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament