Monthly Archives: June 2013

Joshua 2; Psalm 123-125; Isaiah 62; Matthew 10

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim.  “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.”  So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

They did what now?!? – This is so understated that it’s hard to absorb what’s happening here.  The two spies were protected in the home of a woman, a Canaanite – people destined for destruction – and she’s a prostitute?  That is shocking!  The King of Jericho is aware these men came to Rahab but she sends those in pursuit of the spies off on a wild goose chase!  Why would she put her neck out to save these men?  Because she believes in God and has a greater fear of the LORD than of anyone.

I know (am convinced, have been persuaded) that the LORD has given this land to you…

…For the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

What a bold statement of faith!  Note the past tense: “has given”.  This is a done deal.  She knows how this is going to end and has chosen a side – because of her belief:  Jehovah is God over all.   We’ve all heard about Him.  We’ve seen what He’s done.  We know how He fights for His people.

            Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you.

            This is bold too!  …to claim protection by having these men take an oath before God to spare her and her family.  And the symbol of that protection – the scarlet cord, to be placed in the window through which the spies escaped – brings to mind the blood on the doorposts at Passover, and the blood of our sacrificial lamb, Jesus.  He is our deliverance, our way of escape, our covering of protection.  So the woman who protected the spies in her home finds her protection in the house of the LORD through faith.  Not only is she kept safe during the conquest of Jericho, but she is grafted into the family tree, taking her place in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews.

            I will never tire of hearing how our God redeems and transforms lives through faith.  Rahab’s story reminds me that there is no one beyond His reach.  No matter who we are or what we’ve done, we can believe on His name and be saved.  And this faith inspires action – we do what we believe.  May I be prompted to take bold action – not motivated by the fear of man or limited by what others may think of me – but purely out of reverence for the One True God.  May God give me the humility to accept that I’ve done nothing but say, “I’m with Him”.  His favor towards me is completely undeserved.  And may I be challenged to see God at work in people who seem to be so distant from Him.  Our God is drawing all of our wandering hearts to Him.  He takes delight in us.  He captures our hearts with His love.  He rejoices over us as a bridegroom rejoices over His beautiful bride.

            The LORD has made proclamation to the ends of the earth:  “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See your Savior comes!  See, His reward is with Him, and His recompense accompanies Him.’”  They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.

Amy C. (guest on 66 Books)

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Joshua 1, Psalm 120-122, Isaiah 61, & Matthew 9

Matthew 9: 13 “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

Isaiah 61: 1-3 [The Lord] “has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning.”

Psalm 121:5 “The Lord is your shade at your right hand.  The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

Joshua 1:5-6 “I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage.”

Joshua 1:7 “Only be strong and very courageous…”

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 16 “Only be strong and of good courage.”

 

We cannot deny the negative feelings we have when we experience difficulties in life. Even if we believe that Jesus Christ actually experienced human sufferings beyond what most could endure, we can have trouble with trying to ‘hang in there,’ as prescribed by fellow believers.  At these times I am prone to isolate and ‘hunker down’ to suffer through the pain. Yet, our God doesn’t encourage us to suffer in silence.  Scripture after Scripture speaks His forceful voice of a compassionate, omnipresent God who is active in the lives of His faithful.  Instead of a bloody sacrifice to Him, he desires that we give mercy especially in the difficulties of life. Though we may feel bereaved of His supernatural presence at times, He reminds us about His nature: I am a God who promises you healing and joy; I am a God who shields you; I am your God who is with you always.  Funny, all He says we need to do is be strong and courageous, and even that is not left to ourselves for He, Himself, is with us wherever we go.  I cannot get over how truly personal is our God.

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Deuteronomy 33, 34; Psalm 119:145-176; Isaiah 60; Matthew 8

There are so many voices that clamor for attention in every day life: the people I see face to face, email, phone calls, Face Book, mail, the books I read, the radio I listen to. It’s an incredible thing to stop the noise and be silent. I’d like to give you the impression that because of Christ’s presence in my life, I possess this centeredness, this place of calm and peace. It’s what I crave.

I call with all my heart; answer me, O Lord, and I will obey your decrees. I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word…Yet you are near, O Lord, and all your commands are true. Psalm 119:145-147, 151.

That peace, that presence of God is outside me and within. There is a sweet and magnetic ache in my heart that hungers for his presence within me. His Holy Spirit within draws me to his Word. That inward craving isn’t satisfied by things that aren’t true.  My heart has this touch of homesickness that is only satisfied by God. Sometimes, I sense his presence; sometimes I don’t, but reality remains the same.  He is near:

Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Isaiah 60:2-3

It’s a mystery that God dwells within our humble, sinful frames. A mystery that I don’t deserve, but is true nonetheless. I am thankful that his love and his power are far greater than me. May his love shine in all of us today.

Kathy

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Deuteronomy 32; Psalm 119:121-144; Isaiah 59; Matthew 7

“Take to heart all the words of warning I have given you today. Pass them on as a command to your children so they will obey every word of these instructions. 47 These instructions are not empty words—they are your life!” Deuteronomy 32:46-47a NLT.

I am your servant; deal with me in unfailing love,
    and teach me your decrees.
125 Give discernment to me, your servant;
    then I will understand your laws. Psalm 119:124-125 NLT

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7:24 NLT

It’s been a muggy, humid, summer week. A soffit reaches over the window flower boxes, preventing my petunias from getting rain. So I go out with a hose and put the nozzle on the mist setting to water the plants. My youngest likes to follow me around–she eagerly watches all the things I do–and stands nearby as I water the flowers. The mist spray blows in the breeze and showers her too with tiny ice-like shards of cold water. She loves it, and laughs and dances under the spray, reaching out for more. Now that I think of it, she’s around me like a little satellite–my company in the garden, a kitchen companion while I’m baking (and she gets to lick the spoon!), my shadow as I reach into the freezer to break off a cold piece of chocolate (and she gets a piece too). She learns a lot following me around–the good, and the not-s0-good.

When Moses speaks to the people and says to pass these words on to their children, what follows is arresting:

These instructions are not empty words—they are your life!

When I read of God’s teaching falling like rain, a gentle shower–it reads like summer and his teaching refreshes and quenches me in the heat, so I can grow. It underscores to me how important it is to keep his word a steady part of my life–to be connected to him daily to learn. I want this for myself (certainly!), and I want it for my kids. I want them to see faith worked out in real life–from taking hold of the log in my eye, to the asking-seeking-knocking of the Lord, and so much more.

Father God, I pray to you:

133 Guide my steps by your word,
    so I will not be overcome by evil.

135 Look upon me with love;
    teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:133, 135

Courtney (66books365)

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Deut 31; Psalm 119:97-120; Isa 58, Matt 6

In the book, Love Does, by Bob Goff there is a chapter about the movie “The Incredibles.” If you haven’t see in it, its a kids movie about super heroes that have gotten old, put on weight.  They are living “ordinary” lives, instead of the incredible ones that they use to. In comparing the movie to our spiritual lives Bob writes, “We don’t need to put everything we do on the back of a hoodie; write it on an undershirt – be secretly incredible.” Sometimes I want the world to know what I have done. The “good” I accomplished. That’s when I realize it isn’t me, but God’s spirit living in me. As it says in Matthew 6 ESV, I need to “Beware of practicing my righteousness before other people…because I will have no reward from my Father in Heaven.” or as the Message version says…“Don’t make a performance out of being good – Don’t call attention to yourself when you do something for someone else.” Matt 6 MSG

I want to stay open and available to God’s leading and the Spirit’s prompting on my heart if there is anything “incredible” that He wants me to do. It might not look that incredible in someone else’s eyes. But if I feel His prompting and can step out of my comfort zone and release my fears…than the blessing will come out of the gratification I feel from being obedient and pleasing Him. I hope I can stay open to hearing His voice above all others and be in the word like He has called me to do….

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matt 6 

The Lord himself will go before you. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear…the Lord your God goes with you.  Moses summoned Joshua, Be strong and courageous.” Deut 31: 3-7 ESV

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light my path…..You are my hiding place and my shield, I hope in your word.” Psalm 119:105, 114 ESV

Dear Jesus, I desire to live humbly walking in your ways. I pray that Your word would guide me.  That I would get past myself to see what You would have me do. That my heart would be in the right place to give You all the glory.  I desire to  “Seek You daily and delight to know Your ways…so my life will begin to glow in the darkness and my shadowed life will be bathed in sunlight.” Isaiah 58 MSG

” I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places – firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.”  Isaiah 58 MSG

Amy(amyctanner)

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Deuteronomy 30; Psalms 119:73-96; Isaiah 57; Matthew 5

The Lord your God will prepare you and your descendants to love him with your whole being so that you will live. Deuteronomy 30:6 (NCV)

I am struck by the phrase “God will prepare me to love Him”.

To prepare something is to make it ready or suitable or equip in advance. It means that God, Himself will train and teach me to love Him. It is not something I have to do alone, something I have to do by myself. It is in me, because He is in me.

…the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. Deuteronomy 30:14 (NCV)

Over the span of my life, experiences, trials, and cutting wounds, have built up layer upon layer of defenses, a familiar, yet counterfeit protection of my heart. Those incidents and encounters harden my heart, creating calluses, tough lumps and nodules of mental and emotional junk –fear, anxiety, jealousy, anger, guilt, regret, etc. – that cause me to turn my focus to circumstances instead of keeping my eyes on my Savior.

But God changes my heart. He makes it different; causing a transformation. The essence of my heart becomes realigned and returns to its original nature; no longer full of sin, but restored to right-standing.

My heart is renovated, a spiritual circumcision. The walls are demolished, the calluses are cut away, and piles of offense are left behind for the scrapyard. When the junk is cleared away, I can see what is really important…I am freed to choose life.

To choose life is to love the Lord your God, obey him, and stay close to him. He is your life, and he will let you live many years in the land, the land he promised to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:20 (NCV)

To choose life is to become vulnerable to the One who created me, who already knows the deepest parts of me, who knows my substance. To choose life is intimacy (into-me-see) with my Father. To choose life is to learn how to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, and all my mind, with my whole being.

You made me and formed me with your hands.

Give me understanding so I can learn your commands…

Give me life by your love

so I can obey your rules. Psalm 119: 73, 88 (NCV)

Amen.

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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Deut. 29; Ps.119:49-72; Isa. 56; Matt. 4

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him…” Matt 4:1-3

This was Jesus’ preparation for public ministry. In order to prepare himself for the temptation to come, Jesus fasted. That is, He willingly and purposefully placed himself in a weakened state. Sounds like a bad idea, but it was brilliant, it was counter-intuitive.

If I knew temptation was coming, I’d make sure I was well rested and well-fed. I would prepare myself for battle by strengthening myself… in myself.

Jesus prepared for ‘battle’ – temptation in preparation for his public ministry – not by strengthening himself in himself, but by strengthening himself in God the Father. For Jesus, fasting signified surrender to the Father’s will. It was the ultimate act of humility and the only way to prepare for the ministry God had for Him.

Surrender through fasting actually strengthened Him and gave Him the ability to resist the temptation. He was in a sense in His strongest place – fully surrendered to the Father.

I’ve never fasted, at least not that I can remember. And yet as I read this story of tempting and testing, of preparation and perseverance, of victory over Satan, of God’s strength in human weakness – I know I’ve had plenty of reason and opportunity to fast.

The next time I come to the end of myself, when all human wisdom is exhausted, when my knowledge of God and scripture fails to provide what I think I need, or when I am asked to do something I know I cannot do in my own strength… I pray I remember to take my cue’s from Jesus and consider the path of hunger. Maybe in some way fasting will make me acutely aware of my weakness and more aware of God’s strength and His ability to sustain me when I rely on Him.

Paul (guest on 66 books)

Originally published June 24, 2010

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