Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ex.11,12:21; Luke 14; Job 29; I Cor. 15

I see death in every chapter. Death in Exodus to those without the mark of blood upon their doorway. Death to self in Luke for those who would be a disciple of Christ. Death in Job of everything he knew, his words a reminiscent and sorrowful, “I thought, surely …” And death itself in 1 Corinthians 15.

But there is also life: life for God’s chosen; life at the feast for the poor, crippled, blind and lame; new life beyond what we know now; and resurrection through Christ.

42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NLT.

I think hard on the cost of discipleship, of the things I hold onto, even to the excuses I might give to decline God’s call: am I so busy that I do not attend the banquet he has prepared? This feast woven through chapters: of passover, the parable of the banquet–do I hold onto the comfortable and the dear like Job (even to things past?), or do I reach out and forward to earth and soil–a yes to transformation?

God speaks into my life and says, “Go!” and what is my reply? Am I making excuses? Am I waiting for someone else to do it? Has the salt lost its flavor? Lord, I want to make the days count–to be marked by you and your grace. Help me to work enthusiastically for you.

Paul says: But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 1 Corinthians 15:10 NLT.

Lord, I don’t want my life to be marked by complacency. I don’t want to look back and see your invitation buried underneath a list of excuse. Help me to align my thoughts and my days to your will. (I know you will! I know you are!)

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ex. 10; Luke 13; Job 28; 1 Cor. 14;

No matter what we do in life we often approach things with ourselves in mind.  This can even be true when it comes to our Christian walk.  I often hear people talking about their worship as if it was for them saying they didn’t like the song or didn’t get anything out of it.  I know I have been frustrated at times when I don’t think I am changing fast enough like growth is something that can be scheduled forgetting that I am not the only one in the relationship.  The point is it’s not about me, but Him.

Humility is a hard thing.  It can be hard to attain and even harder to maintain.  What is amazing is how God responds to it.  No matter who or what has been done, God is still God and He is full of grace and forgiveness when given the chance to show it.  Pharaoh was proud and very stubborn, but God responded even to Pharaoh’s humility with mercy.

“Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste, and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you.  Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and entreat the Lord your God, that he may take away from me this death only….And the Lord turned a very strong west wind, which took the locusts away and blew them into the Red Sea.” Exodus 10:16-19

I mean here is a man who has been persecuting God’s people for years and has cursed the name of God time and time again and yet respond’s to humility with mercy even though God knew it wouldn’t last.  It gives me comfort to know this.

My walk can be sporadic to say the least and it’s comforting to know that God will always be God and respond as God responds.  He won’t hold a grudge or say “not this time, now you have gone too far for me to forgive you.”  His grace never ends and his mercy is eternal.  Praise God.

Allen (allen4myfamily)

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Exodus 9; Luke 12; Job 27; 1 Corinthians 13

…I gain nothing if I do not have love. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. Love never ends…So these three things continue forever: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:3b-8, 13 (NCV)

I think about what it means to love, what it means to be loved and, as I read this all too familiar passage written to the men and women of the Corinthian church, I am convicted at the inadequacies of the quality of love I offer to others.

In the Greek, the word that is used in this passage is agape. It means to love unconditionally, to love someone not because of what they do or don’t do, but because of who they are. Unconditional love is the embodiment of God on this earth, and took the form of Christ when He died on the cross to cleanse me of my sins and restore my relationship to Him.

As much as I have a desire to care for my husband, my children, my family, my friends, myself, my God, and even my enemies with these characteristics of love, I often fall short and sometimes completely fail at giving the kind of love I am called to offer to others. I frequently find myself experiencing feelings of offense, frustration, and impatience toward those ones I hope to love. I am occasionally tempted to throw up my hands in defeat and run away from the commitment to walk in love.

Though I want to love all people at all times, I find that cynicism, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness creep into my modes of thinking. Sin begins to undermine my charity and twist my benevolence. And when I am not loved well by others it adds fuel to the fire and makes worse the cycle.

I want to be a clear reflection of my Savior’s love to others who have only experienced worldly versions of love that neither fill nor satisfy. But, in my selfishness, I often end up muddying the waters more.

In the midst of it all, I am so grateful that my Father is love (1 John 4:8). Because I have put my trust in Him, He is able to shine through me, despite my own shortcomings and failures, to redeem. He is able to move my heart toward compassion and at the same time meet the needs I have in my own heart to be loved.

The Bible tells me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). That strength comes in the form of His love. And as His love strengthens me, I am able to love others in grace and mercy. I am able to forgive. And in my own restoration, because God first loved me (1 John 4:19), I can in turn love others to life in Christ.

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India (written in the U.S.A.)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Exodus 8, Luke 11, Job 25, 1 Corinthians 12

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. ~Luke 11:5-10

“Shameless audacity,” indeed.

Can you imagine someone actually doing that in the middle of the night?

What boldness it would take to pound even the closest friend’s door in the middle of the night, and continue doing so until gave me what I wanted!  It would have to be a life or death emergency for me with my personality to bring myself to do that, and even then I bet I’d still feel uncomfortable.

But this was for bread… three loaves to be exact, because Jesus was.

Unless, of course, the friend’s visitor was at the point of death and three loaves of bread were the miracle cure, it is really hard to imagine this constituting a dire emergency, though I know that I cannot fully know the culture of the day, and it could be that bread for visitors, no matter the hour was a matter of extreme importance.

None the less, I think Jesus’s words “shameless audacity” give us a hint that this behavior would have been considered as unthinkable then as it would be today.

The cool thing is that in transitioning to well-known verse about asking, seeking, and knocking, Jesus says, “So I say to you…”

The word “so” alerts us to a connection between what has just been said and what is to follow, similar to saying “in the same way.”

And now I see that He’s saying that I should come shamelessly, at ANY time, with audacious boldness, specific requests, and not stop asking until He answers.

Then I read that the verbs used in Greek for ask, seek, and knock, are in the present progressive form, meaning they represent an ongoing action.

Some translate it, “ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking.”

There’s NO SHAME in coming to our Father boldly (audaciously even), at any time, with specific needs, no matter how trivial the request, and continuing to do so until He opens the door.

Unlike another human, who would be annoyed and only answer the door to quiet me, I believe Jesus is telling us that He longs for us to come to Him in this way.

This past weekend I had a bit more time alone than usual and I was asking God for guidance on a specific matter. He did not give me a direct answer, but did speak.

The message I got was essentially “Spend more time with me.”

And I am okay with that, because I was reminded that this life is a union with Him.

What He wants above all is to be WITH ME and me WITH HIM. If He showed me right away everything He willed for me to do, I’d say, “Thanks!” And run off and try to do it all on my own.

But He wants me more than He wants my works, and by walking in union with Him, I accomplish all that He desires for me, both in being and in doing. Only then do I grow in knowledge of Him (not just knowledge about Him but coming to know Him personally) and only in that I can I truly have anything to give.

I think this continual coming, this asking and keeping on asking, seeking and keeping on seeking, knocking and keeping on knocking, helps to keep us dependent on Him.

And this invitation bug Him is the sweetest and most wonderful thing a needy child of His like me could hear at this moment! I have a lot of knocking to do!

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Exekiel 7; Luke 10; Job 24; I Corinthians 11

Scripture:

The Lord’s Supper
1 Corinthians 11, 17But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
23For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
33So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. (ESV)
Observation/Application:
What an awesome passage of Scripture. The Church at Corinth and forgotten what the Lord’s Supper was all about. They were not waiting for one another before celebrating this grand meal and they forgot that there were probably unbelievers in their midst. They forgot the fourfold purpose of this solemn celebration. What are those four purposes?
  1. When we meet together to share in communion we remember the great work Christ did on the cross for us. In verse 24 Paul quotes Jesus as saying, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” When we take communion we remember this grand design of salvation and that we are a part of God’s awesome plan to save the nations.
  2. We bring testimony of our unity in Christ. The Corinthian Christians were not waiting for one another. There was strife among them, and Paul scores them low because they did not come to the table in a unified manner. We are to testify to our unity in Christ when we come.
  3. This celebration is a proclamation of the gospel for those who are among us who don’t know Jesus. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this proclamation, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
  4. In that verse we see the fourth purpose of the Lord’s Supper. We look forward to his return. We are proclaiming his death until he returns. What a glorious day that will be.

Prayer:

Father God we thank you for this regular reminder of your love and grace for us and our duty in unity and the proclamation of the gospel. Help us to remember these things that next time we celebrate your supper. We pray these things in Jesus Name, Amen.

dmbaldwin

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Exodus 6, Luke 9, I Corinthians 10, & Job 23

Who is this Unchangeable God of the Bible? 

Exodus 6:  The first time I met Him, I was awestruck; stopped dead in my reckless wandering through youthful ignorance.  He was some supernatural Protector, God Almighty, but He quickly faded from my view.  Like the wandering Israelites in the desert, my eyes returned to the dusty path I trudged.

Then He came to me again sieved as I was through narrow circumstances; this time knowing it was my time, no other would do.  He became the great I AM.  My head bowed, kneeling, I poured out years of pain and shame, never lifting my eyes for fear of seeing God’s disapproving gaze.  Yet, never able to turn away.

Luke 9: Led on by gentle shepherds, years took me through peaceful places, a soothing journey with my young family, to the Christ of God, and I thought, “He is like me; He knows me, this Son of Man.”  Jesus Christ unraveled my dread of God Almighty and taught me to call Him “Father.”  Adopted, I could dance and sing and spread cheer and charity.

I Corinthians 10: I could have drawn you His picture.  But then, just as J.I. Packard wrote in Knowing God, images mislead men and images dishonor God, “for they obscure His glory.” My mind had created the God of my dreams.  I liked Him a lot, but He was not always easy to understand.  He did not seem to care as much about me later in life.  He would not give me the things I thought were promised, no, obligated by Him.  In fact, I suspect He took away some of my most prized possessions.

Job 23: Now, no longer is God the comforter of self-centered me; He has changed back to God Almighty; then again, maybe He has always been Unchangeable God.  It is I who has waffled in complacency and ruffled my own feathers with terminal expectations.  Dead in my circular wanderings, if not for the defining, revealing, inviting gaze of this God, Unique, that calls me to change.

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Exodus 5; Luke 8; Job 22; 1 Corinthians 9

Being with my husband in a crowd is a wonderful thing.  He is at least a foot taller than I am and outweighs me by a hundred pounds. He has a fantastic view of where he is going and people step aside to let him through. When in crowds, it is best to simply grab hold of the back of his shirt and let him lead. He moves through crowds like a hot knife in butter and I follow, shirt in fist.  Not once, has Jim turned around to tell me to let go.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,  but no one could heal her.  She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.  Luke 8:42-44.

Not being tall in stature or large in size,  I sympathize with this woman.  It is easy to blend in and become part of the herd.  What would it hurt to have a little hope and anonymously reach out to just touch Jesus’s cloak?  Who would know? And maybe, just maybe,  she would be healed.  Changed.  Haven’t we all prayed that prayer and dared to dream?  When Jesus asks who touched him,  Peter offers the reality check of the pressing crowd, but Jesus persists. He desires so much more for this woman.

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet.  In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her,  “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”  Luke 8:47-48.

Knowing that she had no right to do what she did and outright fear brought her knees to knocking, but did not prevent her from stepping out of the crowd and falling at the feet of Jesus.  Her reward was great.  Jesus honors her and calls her daughter and sends her on her way in peace.  My heart aches for the same gifts from Jesus and he has never disappointed.  When I feel alone,  confused and not sure of my way,  I pray and in my mind’s eye,  I don’t just reach out and touch the cloak of Jesus,  I grab it,  just like I grab Jim’s shirt when we are in a crowd.  Not once has Jesus told me to let go.  Not once has he lead me down a wrong path.  He continues to fill my heart with peace,  even when I don’t know where I am being led.  For this, I will always be thankful.

Kathy

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