Monthly Archives: November 2013

I Chronicles 28, 2 Peter 2, Micah 5, & Psalm 106

Watch Bethlehem!

 I Chronicles 28:20 “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God – my God – will be will you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.”

2 Peter 2:7 “…and delivered righteousness Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)…”

Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from old, From everlasting.”

Psalm 106: 1 “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

Some days I find myself in turmoil from competing emotions – love/fear, hope/despondency, belief/practicality…and I wonder when or IF God will do anything about my concerns.

My eyes are on the circumstances and the people about me.  My thoughts are racing from rationalizing to judging, from deserving punishment to pleading for mercy, from expectancy to acceptance of disappointment.  Too often, I crash and burn, screaming “I’m done!”

Doesn’t God hear me?  How much more can I bear? These raging wonderings result in quiet despair, and I settle into heaviness.  Why?  Do I not know that my God is with me?  When did I lower my eyes from the heavens and drag my weakened mind through thorny paths of lost hope?  Like Lot, I stand helpless, tormented.  All I can pray is “Have mercy on me, oh God.”

And every time – no, I mean it, – EVERY time – I look to The Savior, born in a manger, Who not only died for the world, but died for me, and Who was resurrected and now lives and rules and intercedes for me.  I lift my eyes to the heavens and wait.  I watch. I remember to expect the goodness of the Lord.

Then I chide myself and say “Why are you discouraged?  Your God will never forsake you and never leave you.”  I know this.  And then He comes – EVERY time.

Watch Bethlehem!  

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 2 Peter, 66 Books, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Micah, Micah, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

1 Chronicles 26, 27; 2 Peter 1; Micah 4; Luke 13

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.”  Luke 13:18-19

“Your faith is shallow and superficial.”  Those were the words that a family member sent flying in my direction.  The words cut to the core and I was ashamed. I knew that there was a kernel of truth there.  Those words weren’t meant to encourage me to grow in faith. The statement was an indictment. I had been measured and found wanting.

Those words burned within for a month.  After all, I live in my own skin. I know the thoughts that rumble around in my head. I know my motives are often impure.  Like Peter, there are times when I choose to deny Christ.  I felt that I had let Jesus down. Then healing came. God took hold of my heart one morning and reminded me of the mustard seed. What he spoke was basically this, “Kathy, your faith in me is beautiful no matter how weak or how strong it is. I died to make your faith complete. I love you.”

So simple, but this is a lesson God never tires of teaching me over and over again. He has won the battle for my heart. His love, his grace are more powerful than my incomplete efforts.  I can rest in that.

Peter, who knew what it meant to deny Christ, offers  these words of encouragement, “To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:1-2

Philippians 1:6;  Ephesians 2:8

Kathy

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1Chronicles 24, 25; 1Peter 5; Micah 3; Luke 12

I picked service as my one word focus this year. (Anyone else do a one word?)

Today’s reading flashes it like Christmas lights set on blink.

Service. Service. Service.

This is how Aaron’s descendants, the priests, were divided into groups for service 31 Like the descendants of Aaron, they were assigned to their duties by means of sacred lots, without regard to age or rank. 1 Chronicles 24:1a and 31 NLT

The musicians were appointed to their term of service by means of sacred lots, without regard to whether they were young or old, teacher or student. 1 Chronicles 25:8 NLT.

I learned a lot about service as this year progressed. About my heart behind it. About my expectations from it. About how hard it is when you don’t particularly like the circumstance or person you’re serving. What I hoped would be a year of good-doing revealed a warped focus wrapped in pride.

I had to regroup. God has wired me a certain way. He has a job for me, without regard to my age or experience. He gives me opportunity to care for the flock around me–extended family, neighbors, other moms, and certainly the people under this roof. Service is not always convenient. Or pretty. Or at times, in my case, willing.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example … And all of you, serve each other in humility, for

“God opposes the proud
    but favors the humble.”

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 1 Peter 5:2-3, 5b NLT.

It is easier to care for the people I love and who love me back. But this year, I’m learning to serve even the ones who don’t love back. I’m sure there are other families facing the strain of difficult relationships. And they will understand the dragging feet of grudging and the knotted stomach of stress.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT.

This year, though, I’m standing firm and being strong. I’m fixing a table up and stoking the fire in the fireplace. I’m putting together a menu I love, for a holiday I enjoy and a concept I treasure; and serving a God I adore, as if he himself were seated at my table. I cannot control the responses and actions of others–and God doesn’t require it of me. He asks me to humble myself and serve him, the way he has me wired, regardless of my age or experience. (Julie once shared a definition of service as worship; this sticks with me.) And really, there is no burden in that.

35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. Luke 12:35-36 NLT.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament

1 Chron 23; 1 Pet 4; Micah 2; Luke 11

It seemed like my kids were fighting all day. I was exhausted and asking God to give me the words to say. I found myself talking about love and what it really means to love others and that we need to show them. This brought to my mind the different ways that love is expressed. I recently took a love language test on-line at http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ . My love language is Acts of service. The others are,The Giving of Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Quality time and Physical touch. I thought about how sometimes I show love using my love language and it might be more meaningful if done in another way. Than I read this, “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.” 1 Peter 4:8 MSG. As usual, something that I am teaching my kids comes right back to hit me square in the face. The verse goes on to say…

Be quick to take a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless-cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything-encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” 1 Peter 4:8-11 MSG.

It won’t always be easy…

Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner…So if you find life difficult because you’re doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing, and he’ll keep on doing it.” 1 Peter 4:12-19 MSG

Dear Jesus, I pray that I would shine the light of your love, during this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. I pray that I can learn to be thankful for the difficulties that come into my life, because they draw me closer to You. Help me to see others through Your eyes.

And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask Him?”Luke 11:13 MSG. Father, thank you for loving me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Chronicles 22; 1 Peter 3; Micah 1; Luke 10

It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from within you – the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that will never be destroyed and is very precious to God. 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NCV)

Every day (yes, even in India), I am bombarded with images of male and female models who project what the world values as beautiful. The men are well dressed, muscular, a trace of 5 o’clock shadow, eyes staring dreamily at something on the unseen horizon, a flirty smile on their lips. The women, more often than not, are adolescent girls exposing stick thin figures and ample cleavage in barely-there fashions with come-hither expressions painted on their faces.

The world’s definition of beauty has always left me feeling inadequate, falling just short of the perceived ideal. Even though I did some local modeling while in high school, I still always felt too dumpy, too fat, not enough this, not enough that.

Throughout the years, I have experienced times where I looked at myself and liked what I saw in the mirror. My positive self-esteem strengthened by my understanding that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and being unique is appreciated. I have also experienced times when I was unhappy with my reflection, especially after being a veteran of childbirth. Though I love my daughters immeasurably, getting to know my post-pregnancy body has sometimes been a less than pleasurable encounter.

In the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”, Andie (played by Kate Hudson) is going to a gala event with Barry (played by Matthew McConaughey). She steps out of her apartment building in a stunning gold dress, walks to the edge of the steps and turns a 360 in front of Barry who is standing at the bottom of the stairs on the sidewalk. He is awed by her outer beauty.

A few years ago, while I was in the midst of a self-image struggle, God showed me a picture similar to this scene. Dressed in a gorgeous red gown, I walk out of the building, walk to the edge of the step and slowly twirl around. Jesus, standing near the road, looks at me with awe. God whispered in my ear, “You are beautiful. You’re covered in the blood of Christ. You are made perfect in me.”

“Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42 (NCV)

Beauty isn’t simply skin deep. It isn’t about how I dress up or accessorize; it isn’t about wearing the latest trends or having the latest hairstyle.

Choosing Jesus made me beautiful. My beauty is found in my character, in my spirit. It originates inside of me and radiates to the outside. Being beautiful is about Christ in me and the fruits produced as a result of our relationship. Being beautiful is about what I do with that harvest.

The beauty the world prizes will fade – aging is inevitable. But, my inner beauty, the beauty that is precious to God and ultimately treasured by those around me, will never be taken away. It will only grow more beautiful because of Jesus.

Yesappa, Thank You for loving me. Thank You for proving my value and worth when You died for me on the cross and covered me with Your blood. Thank You for making me beautiful. 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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1Chron.21; 1Pet. 2; Jonah 4; Luke 9

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. ~ 1 Peter 2:2-3

 

The word “taste” means to experience.  With this being my second pregnancy, I can say that I’m not at all surprised by a lot of the things happening in my body, whereas with my first pregnancy, everything was unexpected, and sometimes scary.  For example, I’m not surprised—though annoyed—that I can’t tolerate any sugary foods or dairy products.  Once you’ve experienced something, you feel a little more comfortable the second and third times around (not that I plan to be pregnant a third time around).  But it’s like that with faith.  The first time you experience faith, or the Holy Spirit, or even the voice of God, it can be quite scary because you’ve never experienced anything like it before.  But once you’ve experienced God and the power of His Holy presence, you’ll never want to miss out on it again.

 

God longs for us to spend daily time with Him, not just for the “experience,” but for the relationship.  But it’s through that intimate relationship that we are able to experience, to taste, the goodness of the Lord.

 

Father, thank you for our relationship and the times I’m able to step into and experience Your Holy Presence.  Help me to desire and to seek after that intimate time with You on a daily basis.  Father, I pray that You would be with us today and always.  In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Heatherpotts5

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1 Chronicles 19 & 20, 1Peter 1, Jonah 3, Luke 8

Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke 8:25

Fear & amazement stimulate questions.

Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. Luke 8:37

Giving into fear causes distance and isolation.

Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” Luke 20:50

Everyone experiences fear, but faith can move us beyond it.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1Peter 1: 14, 17-19

Fear with reverence helps us remain obedient to God.

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3:10

Fear or faith. That which we believe in, we hold dear and close. That which we fear, we avoid. What is our response to Jesus?

After Jesus sent a legion of demons into a herd of pigs, that subsequently plunged into the sea, the people wanted Jesus to be far from them. Those with faith, like the woman with the bleeding issue pushed through their fear to get closer to Jesus.

Where is my faith? Sometimes I do the same thing as the disciples. I look at what Jesus does and I am astonished by all the miracles around me. Sometimes I want to be close. Sometimes I don’t want Him to look at me. I’m afraid he will see my sin.

My faith should remind me that I have nothing to fear anymore because his precious blood covered my sin once and for all.

Thank you Jesus.

yicareggie

from the archives, originally published November 24, 2010

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