Monthly Archives: June 2013

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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Deut.28:20-68; Ps.119:25-48; Isa. 55; Matt. 3

I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32

 

This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ Matthew 3:3

This is who I want to be in Christ.

The one running on a path headed straight for God with my friends following close behind.

Running barefoot in the cool grass, with the wind caressing my face.

My heart free,  pursuing my love, like a child chasing after fireflies.

Thrilled at capturing the understanding in his word.

Happy to be included in his plans.

Grateful to be picked for the winning team.

Smiling as he whispers my name.

Trusting as he assigns me my position in the game.

Confident that he has equipped me with all I need to play fair.

Speaking higher thoughts that bless those listening.

Joyful, peaceful.

Bursting with gleeful songs of praise from the bottom of my heart and soul.

yicareggie

From the archives; this post originally published June 23, 2010.

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Deuteronomy 27-28:19; Psalm 119:1-24; Isaiah 54; Matthew 2

Scripture:

Psalm 119:11,  I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you. (NIV)

Observation:

What a simple verse. This entire chapter is a testimony of the strength we find in God’s holy Word. What a great resource this chapter is in finding the treasure we have in the Bible. And here we find one of the reasons we need to memorize God’s Word. It keeps us from sin. Not the act of memorizing it keeps us from sinning, but when we encounter those circumstances where sin could occur we find strength in God’s Word for us to repel the evil one and those evil desires that reside in us as well. When we are confronted with a situation, at that point it’s too late to run to God’s Word and look for strength. It needs to be in us and ready for recall and application at a second’s notice.

Application:

I don’t know about you, but memorizing Scripture is a chore for me. I’m not a good memorizer. When I was younger I belonged to an organization called the Bible Memory Association. We were given books of Scripture that we had to memorize — sections each week — and then we receive rewards for our hard work. Because of those sessions I still can recall the entire first chapter of the Gospel of John. What a gem that passage has been for me in so many circumstances. On the other hand as an adult one night while I wrestled with thoughts that were not God-pleasing words from Romans 8 came to me taking my mind off the mischief at hand. I’m not saying I’m perfect or even accomplished at this thing called memorization, but I have experienced its benefit in my life both in youth and adulthood.

In adulthood do you struggle like me to memorize the Bible? Has your hard work paid off in a closer walk with God?

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for Your Word. I pray Your Holy Spirit will help us to stay at this great task of memorizing it and using it to stay close to You in all we do. Thank You for the great treasure we find in it and You as we memorize. We pray these things in Jesus Name, Amen!

dmbaldwin

from the archives, June 22, 2011

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Deut. 26, Ps. 117, 118, Isa. 53, Matt. 1

What’s in a name?

I remember just before my two daughters were born, the arduous process of selecting just the right name for our unseen treasures. First, a list of names was created and thought was given to which sounded right. But, I recall one night having a dream… perhaps I was overthinking the name selection process. In the dream, I was asked what the baby’s name was, I couldn’t speak… and I remember having a handful of index cards intended to hold the names being considered, and when I offered the cards as possible options, each card was blank. It was then that I realized that this name selection process had a much deeper meaning… that perhaps we needed to consider something more than how the name sounded. After researching a number of names for their meaning, it became clear that there was a definite connection between the name given to a child and the destiny of that child. God’s Word speaks of the tremendous power of the tongue. As such, the choice of names for our children has the power to impact their journey in life more than we can imagine!

Names were especially important to the Israelites. Often times throughout the Bible, babies were named to symbolize events surrounding their birth or for prophetic reasons affecting a circle of influence wider than one family, even as great as an entire nation. While reviewing the passages for today’s posting, I found it interesting that Matthew began his Gospel with a long list of names leading up to Jesus’ birth. Going through the genealogy had me wanting to get past the long, unpronounceable names in order to get to what I thought was the real reason of Matthew 1. I learned that genealogy should not be scanned too casually as, in this case, it led to the crescendo in the announcement of our Savior’s birth and naming.

The genealogy in Matthew 1 reveals a very unique and important slice of history… many generations who waited for their Messiah to come. Finally, in one unassuming night in Bethlehem, our Savior was born. Of all the names God could have chosen, He selected one with exceptional meaning for His precious Son… Immanuel… God is with us! (Matthew 1:23) With the simple act of naming His Son, God sent a message to His people that he would be with them forever. Immanuel wasn’t just a name, but a promise, a hope, a fulfillment of prophecy, and the beginning of a legacy… the turning point of eternity.

Even in the midst of terrible tragedy revealed in Isaiah 53, the name of Jesus evoked great hope over death. The spikes that pierced His wrist left holes that He filled with the souls of those who accept His salvation. And in a beautiful twist of irony, those holes made it possible for Him to fill up our emptiness with His wholeness. We are all living in Immanuel’s legacy… today, many generations after Jesus received His name, God is still with us. Even the psalmist attests to this and praises God, calling upon us to give thanks to God for the grace and blessings bestowed on all of us… that there is a Redeemer that is with us always (Ps. 117, 118)!

So… what’s in a name? When it comes to Jesus’ name… everything!

Sweet Jesus… with the simple speaking of your name… thank you for being the hope of the world. May my life point others to its meaning for them… Amen!

P.S. What’s in a name in my world? My daughter Brianna’s name means strong… a name characterized with a deep inner desire to inspire others in a higher cause. If any of you know my daughter, you know how true this is of her… incredibly strong willed; recently graduated and certified as a teacher, wanting to devote her life to teaching and inspiring elementary age children… what better calling than to positively influence the mind of a child. Julia, has a name characterized as youthful with a desire for order and physical creativity. Not sure I agree with the order characteristic, but her creative outlook on life helps to balance an otherwise overly analytical family!

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