Monthly Archives: August 2013

I Samuel 24, I Corinthians 5, Ezekiel 3, Psalm 39

There are times in my life when it’s pouring down rain and I pick up the phone to call someone and complain.  I talk about my problems and how nothing’s working out and share with them how it makes me yell and shout.  In the back of my mind I think that this is the solution, when all I’m really doing is spreading verbal pollution.  In Psalms 39 David had many reasons to be blue, but only spoke his cries to God whom he knew could see him through.   He kept his tongue from sin and from spreading it around and in turn allowed the Lord to turn his frown upside down!  People often come to me and ask me for advice and more often than not I throw my two cents out and don’t think twice.  It’s interesting to me that in Ezekiel  3:26 the Lord causes Ezekiel’s  tongue to on the roof of his mouth stick.  It goes on to say in verse 27 that the Sovereign Lord will loosen it when He delivers His message from heaven.    Once the words were revealed it was evidently clear that what  came from Ezekiel’s mouth was the Authoritative Truth people needed to hear!  I have a wonderful friend who is a pastor’s wife, who has always taken time to pray and seek God’s word before giving me advice on my strife.  At first I did not like this and wanted immediate response , but the more she showed patience in replying I saw many ‘IN HIS WILL’  answers from God.

A couple weeks ago I got a text from an old friend, she was sharing with me about some sin she had just gotten in.  She didn’t act remorseful, rather tried to get me on her side and where years ago I would have gone along, this time I made the choice to not compromise.  I Samuel 24 shows David’s refusal to go with the crowd, rather to stand up with courage, do what’s right and not take the easy way out.  Peer pressure is all around us every single day and we will fall to the ground if we do not consciously place ourselves there to pray.  It saddens me that this friend is straying from the Lord, and as hard it may be I Corinthians 5 talks about the need to “cut the cord”.  It doesn’t mean I put her on my enemies list, but I lift her up to Jesus and pray for restoration and godly fellowship.

I can lead a horse to water  and even teach it how to drink, but if it chooses to thirst to death, judgmental is not the way I need to think.  Verse 13 of I Corinthians 5 says, “God will judge those on the outside.”

Just the other day I saw a note from a friend  “Please, can you help me, there’s a snake here on my end”.  I rushed to her house to remove it from her shed, and once I got it down  we chose to keep it alive instead of causing it to become dead! It was long, black and slimy and smelled disgusting too, but we chose to take it into the woods, release it and pray that no more visits there it would do. We both discussed how it reminded us of Satan and how he tries to hide, but also the way he tries to slither and throw us off stride.  It made me more aware of how quickly he can make his way in and if I don’t remove him when he’s there there will be a stench that grows within.

After having read all these passages and taking them to heart, I’ve learned more about how God wants me to play my part.   I’m thankful for God’s word, and the reminders I am given,  and my prayer from here on out is that I truly seek Him for my soul livin.

Live2love4Him4Ever

~Erica

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1 Sam. 23; 1 Cor. 4; Ezek. 2; Ps. 38

What would you do if…

I really wonder what readers think when they read my posts… I wonder if they’re thinking “does this guy ever have a peaceful day? There’s always something happening to him or his family… he has such bad luck!” Or perhaps people reading are concluding that I must have really done some terrible things in my life and God is really angry with me. Has anyone ever felt that way about their own life when things don’t seem to go right? Bad luck? Perhaps… God angry?? Disappointed at times, maybe, but He still loves us. So why do things seem to go wrong and how do we react to them when they do?

You know… it’s a funny thing about when we point the finger out at others to find the root cause of a problem. At some point, you have to stop and wonder… is it always someone else’s fault? Here’s a real humbling experience… try standing in front of the mirror and pointing out away from yourself… the mirrored image has you pointing back at yourself. Then try pointing at yourself in the mirror… the mirrored image still has you pointing at yourself… hmmmmm… perhaps there’s something to this… perhaps the real problem lies within ME! I’ve learned over time that more often than not, there’s some fault on both sides of a dispute… but I can only control my actions… I have the power to influence the outcome, and much of this power is deeply rooted in what and who I believe God to be. When a wrong is done to us, how will we respond? Matthew 5:39 advocates turning the other cheek when we are wronged… this is difficult, but not impossible. When we respond to wrongs with the same kind of vindictiveness, then we affirm to the world that Christianity is a lie. However, responding in quiet dignity and with prayer for our perpetrator, drawing on the power of Christ, we will hopefully invoke a response of respect and wonder, compelling others to want to learn more about Jesus… when we do respond with the gentle dignity of our Savior, we ultimately bring glory to Him.

Perhaps what appears to be “bad luck” isn’t about luck at all… perhaps it’s about opportunities. In my last blog post, I shared an experience I went through being away from my daughter relying solely on God with my most precious asset… my daughter. That after some serious reflection, it became more clear that God loved me enough to use a situation to show that He is ultimately in control, not me. Also, while my head says that I would seek God in all things, it’s not until I believe that in my heart that I am more likely to pursue Him in all things. Even though my encounter with God several weeks ago was significant, I suspect that God thought I could use a refresher…

A week ago yesterday my mother was involved in a car accident… a motorcyclist rear-ended her but thankfully, my mother was okay. Unfortunately, the worst part of this ordeal was when the motorcyclist got up and attempted to kick the car door in, pull the side view mirror off, and continuously punch the front windshield. My mother was terrified! Is this the kind of world we live in? That a 77-year old widow can be threatened with physical violence and she wasn’t even at fault? Apparently so… but needless to say, I was angry at a core level… after all, this was my Mom… I’d promised my Dad to protect her, and where was I when this was happening? Six hours away with no ability to get to her quickly, and this time, that feeling of anger wasn’t moving away. What hadn’t I learned that I needed another lesson to get it? Often times, God uses people to meet needs, accomplish worthwhile tasks, and open doors of opportunity that possibly only God and the person in need know about. After hearing my mother’s voice, I began to pray hard not only for her, but for the man who responded in violence. I prayed that whatever caused this hatred to brew inside be taken so peace could be experienced… that he would come to know God had His healing power!

One week after the incident, my family was contacted by the local police… the young man who had expressed frustration with violence had contacted the same police department asking for an escort to express his deep sorrow to my mother for what he had done just a week ago. He had shared that he felt led to do this act and couldn’t explain why… that it was a feeling he had never felt before. Was this what I was expecting from the prayer I offered? Not really… but in faith and trust, we pray… God answers — sometimes in unexpected ways. What will the final outcome be? I really have no idea… but we must remain committed and open to God’s outcome and not force our way because we think we know what’s best. I know… easier said than done, right? But, difficult does not mean impossible! Ezekiel 2:7 proclaims “…You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.” And Ezekiel 2:9-10 “Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.” We pray and God answers — sometimes in unexpected ways and sometimes not when we want the answer… God has His own timing that is usually not ours (Psalm 38:15; 1 Corinthians 4:5). I can’t wait until next week!!

Heavenly Father… show me how to make what is in my mind become my heart. In your word you share that three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. Help me to not just know the words in my mind, but to practice them from my heart, just as Your Son practiced an ultimate love by sacrificing His life for us. Amen.

Greg Stefanelli (gstefanelli)

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1 Samuel 21, 22; 1 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 1; Psalm 37

When Brene Brown spoke of love and belonging, I was undone. (Not a belonging about fitting in and being like others, but of being accepted for who you are.) She said without one of these (love, belonging), there is suffering.

David forms an army. These men weren’t perfect specimens. Not with words like distressed, debtors and discontent. God uses the broken for his kingdom.

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. 1 Samuel 22:1-2 NIV.

I didn’t fit in former circles. No, I didn’t even belong. No amount of striving would change that. Suffering felt an awful lot like depression. Perhaps God saw as distressed, discontent. No matter. I didn’t have to be perfect. I was perfect for him.

I did the same things still back then: cookie baking, card sending, garden gifting. There was no new result in that field, but there was newness in my heart. Instead of striving for the approval of man, I chose to serve the Lord. That was life before the move, and in the two years of life after I am still cookie baking, card sending, and garden gifting to honor my Lord. I don’t expect to fit, not when I live counter-culture. Two years here, I press on.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity. Psalm 37 NIV

Two years.

Over the weekend a woman who lives nearby walked down my driveway for the first time, sat across from me at the table and was vulnerable. Because of the cookies. Asked for prayer. She called me kind. Jesus sat at the table with us, and I wanted to elbow him and say, “Do you hear this?! You used the cookies! God, you are awesome!”

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 NIV

God, you are faithful. You are mighty. You are good. You were all those things before. And you are all those things today. Thank you for taking this offering and doing more with it than I ever could. It’s all you–for you and about you. Thank you for bringing us here. And for calling me yours.

Courtney (66books365)

Love Came Down

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1 Samuel 20, Psalm 36, Lamentations 5, 1 Corinthians 2

Our family has spent this whole week watching the vast Atlantic Ocean from the shoreline of our rental home. Relaxing & laughing with and loving on each other.

My oldest daughter recently shared with me an ocean fact that she read in a book, just before we left for our beach trip. The fact was about how much water there was in the oceans per person on the earth. She was not exactly sure what the correct figure was, so I thought I’d do that math.

There are 343,423,668,428,484,681,262 gallons of water in the oceans. The world population is approximately 7 billion. Dividing the first number by the second gives an answer of 49,060,524,061 gallons of ocean water per person on the earth. That’s alot of water!

Why all this ocean fact knowledge on 66 books?

“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O Lord, You preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

Psalm 36:5-7 NIV

Another ocean fact:

“Beneath the world’s oceans lie rugged mountains, active volcanoes, vast plateaus and almost bottomless trenches. The deepest ocean trenches could easily swallow up the tallest mountains on land.” *

So, when I read and contemplate these verses about the Lord’s love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice while at the ocean, I am consumed with the vastness of it.

Especially in light of verses 1 & 2…

“An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked. There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.”

How many times have I been like this wicked man David writes about? How many times have I acted in a sinful manner with no fear (respect) of God and His holiness? How easy it is to become tangled in the web of sin,  thinking that I deserve this or that, or that I have a right to act this way, or to think these thoughts. I have flattered myself in my eyes, so much that I do not detect and/or hate the sin that is consuming me.

But God’s love, oh His unfailing love is so vast, so merciful, so forgiving. When I turn from my sin and acknowledge Him as the Lord, He is so quick to show me grace and to cover me with His righteousness. God’s justice for the contrite is forgiveness and reconcillation, certainly not what I deserve or am due. What I deserve or am due is the opposite of what He gives, when I turn from my sin and accept His gift of redemption.

Lord,

Thank you once again for your unfailing love to me.

“You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19 NIV)

Your love is truly, wonderfully,  and magnificently amazing!

Amen.

– Beckie (look2thehills)

*http://www.mos.org/oceans/planet/features.html

from the archives, August 28, 2010

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1 Samuel 19; 1 Corinthians 1; Lamentations 4; Luke 24

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and he chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose what the world thinks is unimportant and what the world looks down on and thinks is nothing in order to destroy what the world thinks is important. God did this so that no one can brag in his presence. Because of God you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God. In Christ we are put right with God, and have been made holy, and have been set free from sin. So, as the Scripture says, “If people want to brag, they should brag only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (NCV)

As a teenager and young adult, I realized that I did not have any one skill that I highly excelled in; I was never going to be an extraordinary talent. I was never going to be a Charlotte Church or an Andrea Bocelli, though I love to sing. I was never going to be a Beethoven or a YoYo Ma, though I love music. I was never going to be a Picasso, a Shakespeare, or a Meryl Streep, though I love the arts. I was never going to be a Dominique Moceanu, a Dorothy Hamill or a Ray Lewis, though I love athletics. Though I love all things culinary, I was never going to be a Jacques Pépin or a Julia Childs (my personal hero – and yes, I will admit, I grew up pretending I was her when I took my turn to help out in the kitchen).

So my goal was to become a jack-of-all-trades. I wanted to be full of knowledge, to know enough about as much as possible. I wanted to be like Benjamin Franklin who had so much information, so many facts to share with the world. I wanted book smarts, and I wanted ‘street’ smarts as well. I wanted to learn from other people’s proficiencies and I wanted to learn through experiential knowledge too. I wanted wisdom.

I took pleasure in learning, whether from reading a nonfiction book, from watching an educational T.V. program, or from studying someone while they plied their trade, and even from jumping in with both feet to attempt something I had never tried before. I had satisfaction in knowing more than the next person. I took pride in being ‘right’ (even when I was wrong).

Even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NCV)

When I began following Christ, He revealed my arrogance and my outlook on wisdom changed. I recognized that my attitude was in the wrong place. My drive for knowledge had stemmed from self-importance, from a desire to be better than other people, to ‘prove’ myself to the world. I had taken a bite of ‘knowledge of good and evil’ fruit, rather than walking with God each day in the cool and quiet of our secret place, trusting Him to reveal true wisdom. I boasted in myself, rather than singing the praises of my Creator, the Author of everything, the Designer who has all knowledge because He is ALL knowledge.

The teaching about the cross is foolishness to those who are being lost, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called—Jews and Greeks. 1 Corinthians 1:18, 24 (NCV)

I continue to this day to love to learn as much as I can, and I believe that my Father takes enjoyment in my search for understanding. My quest is set right at the Cross at Calvary, an exploration aligned with His Kingdom. My pursuit is now grounded in Him. He has given me spectacles covered in the blood of Christ, to help me see things through His eyes, giving me new awareness, giving me new insight. He cleanses my heart daily, bathing it in love, changing my perception and allowing for godly discernment.

Christ did not send me to baptize people but to preach the Good News. And he sent me to preach the Good News without using words of human wisdom so that the cross of Christ would not lose its power. 1 Corinthians 1:17 (NCV)

My objective is to investigate and embrace the awesome ‘foolishness’ of the Cross, the breathtaking gift of grace. My intention is to share with everyone I meet the tremendous power of the sacrifice Jesus became at Calvary, offering comprehension of the Truth, the only Truth that sets captives free. My aim is to proclaim His Glory. My purpose is His mission.

Yesappa, I want to be a fool for You, steeped not in worldly intelligence, but drenched in Truth. Help me walk daily in Your wisdom. Help me live immersed in Your understanding. Help me boldly brag about the power of the Cross, Your Good News, Your Gift of Grace with courage no matter how stupid another may think I am. Help me Holy Ghost! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

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

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1 Samuel 18; Romans 16; Lamentations 3; Psalm 34

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Psalm 34:4-11

 

Psalm 34 has long been a favorite to me because “those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.”

How beautiful is that? How amazing, that just by looking to Him, putting my hope and trust in him and what He has done delivers me from shame? I who am shameful, yet because

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.” Lam. 3:22-23

The theme of this year for me has been all about looking unto Him. Not that I’ve mastered it at all, but everywhere I turn I feel him beckoning me to do it. To look to him. This Psalm has become all the more precious because of the fact that those who look to him are RADIANT. This gives me a picture of such joy! This is the desire of my heart, to keep my eyes on Him.

Also this year I got sick of fearing man. Sick of it. And from the depths of my heart cried out to God to teach me to fear HIM ALONE, to teach me, rather to make reality in my life “the fear of the Lord.”

He responded with such speed and clarity that it blew me away and greatly excited me. Immediately after praying that prayer initially my eyes fell on a verse written on the front of a magazine poking out behind some books on my bedside table:

The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.  My eyes are ever on the Lord    for only he will release my feet from the snare.” Psalm 25:14-15

Then in the same sitting I read, I believe as a part of my sequential reading, from Proverbs chapter 2…

1. My son, if you accept my words
    and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.

No kidding! And finally, he led me to this beloved Chapter 34 and there it was again,

Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Psalm 34:11

My cry was answered with a clear “COME, LOOK, LISTEN, SEEK, CRY OUT…

and I will teach you. ”

How sweet this is. I needed this reminder today so greatly. It is so hard to listen amidst all the noise of this world. But I will not give up, not give up asking Him to teach me to listen and teach me to look, to teach me the fear of the Lord.

Because this Psalm makes it very clear that this fear is worth seeking, that it is not scary or heavy, but rather the fear that “delivers me from all my fears.”

The fear that makes me radiant.

Lord, help me keep listening, keep looking, keep crying out until I truly know this fear of You, and am delivered from all other fears!

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1 Samuel 17; Romans 15; Lamentations 2; Psalm 33

Instantaneous news.

Before the quake stops shaking texts begin to fly. Twitter updates come in at a steady stream in 140 characters or less. Facebook conversations get a sudden springboard. And, everyone hits the internet to research earthquakes and aftershocks and epicenters.

In a much simpler time, but wrought with its own tragedies, news traveled by foot.

Wondering if his sons might still be alive, Jesse sends David to check out the battle scene.

I relate most to the Israelites in this story. Shaking uncontrollably from fear.

I size up my enemy. Daily it taunts me. I can tell you everything about it, even its next move, because it is pretty much the same thing as yesterday. My own Goliath of Gath.So close the Israelites could see the veins on his neck as he mocked them. So often that they knew every strand of his armor.

You likely have one, too. Fear, doubt, depression, anger, complacency, pride, uncertainty. Take your pick.

” . . . all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.” Yep, that’s me. I don’t even dare approach it. I know failure is guaranteed.

I think I must need some new armory to take this one down. What can I possibly use?

Then David shows up. Ancient weapons. Stones.

I have a rock, too, but I forget to stand on it.

He has a slingshot.

I have a sword, but it sits lifeless.

And it only took one shot for victory to run rampant over the enemy camp.

Victory comes effortlessly if I rest in the Master’s hand. David’s heart flows out in the Psalms. He didn’t likely write Psalm 33 from what I can gather, but we can see the heart attitude of a true victor there. The prayer at the close of this Psalm is my prayer as well.

Father God,

Our soul waiteth for You, our help and our shield.

 21For our heart shall rejoice in You, because we have trusted in Your holy name.

 22Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in You.

~In Jesus Name, Amen

Erin (5intow)

from the archives, originally published August 25, 2011.

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