Monthly Archives: March 2014

Judges 3-5; Luke 7:31-50

“To what then should I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance;

we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

Luke 7:31-35

I read once from someone (I can’t remember who now), that after a person had been a believer for more than 5 years, they should be reading the Gospels from the perspective of the Pharisees. It’s the natural human tendency I guess, to eventually get to a place spiritually where we feel that we got there by our own power. 

I used to read this passage a certain way. 

I used to think, “yeah, what a terrible generation, they didn’t get Jesus! They whined about John the Baptist being one way, and then Jesus comes on the scene and they whine about all the opposite things! What a bunch of hypocrites!

But today I began to realize how much like them I am. 

And how unlike Jesus I am. 

I always want to make him into something he isn’t.

Sometimes I want to make him into a Pharisee, with strict laws and traditions outside the Bible about what people should or shouldn’t do.

Sometimes I want him to be an Essene, to separate from the corrupted world and never engage it, let God judge them. 

Sometimes I want to make him out to be a Zealot, who overthrows the kingdoms of this world through violence and power. 

and the list goes on. 

But today? 

Today I want to start seeing Jesus for who he is even clearer. I don’t want ‘Jesus plus anything’ as C.S. Lewis puts it in Mere Christianity. 

I want to try to unmask the Jesus I’ve made up in my own image of what I want him to be.

I want to see Jesus for who he is.

Simply Jesus (as N.T. Wright puts it.)

My prayer is summed up pretty well in this song:

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by | March 31, 2014 · 5:00 am

Judges 1, 2 & Luke: 7:1-30

John the Baptist sent two disciples to ask Jesus, “Are You the Coming One or do we look for another?”  Christ answered, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

Is there any other who could have done these things then or now? Still, in the history of Israel, God frequently had to remind the people to look at all He was doing and had done for them.  It would seem that the miracles of the Exodus, the supernatural answer to Joshua’s prayer that the sun would stand still, or the conquest of the Canaanites would have built up the faith and reliance on God.  Yet Israel began slipping back into fear and disobedience, such as allowing the Canaanites to continue living alongside them (Judges 1,2).

How am I like the generation that forgot God?  Should I ask myself if I am listening to someone other than the God who performs miracles right before my eyes? Why do I give the enemy a foothold by holding back on what I know to be truth?  Sometimes I do use an opportunity to share a testimony of God’s love and mercy, yet how many other times did I let that opportunity pass by?  I hold back on testifying to God’s goodness, feeling anxious, worried, and fearful and thinking that I have nothing to say that would lead a person to Christ or impact the lifestyle of someone living without the knowledge of God.  I rationalize that it is not my place to give unsolicited opinions or advice or to determine what another should experience.  Overthinking like this can lead to faulty reasoning, then possibly talking me out of witnessing. When I stop looking for the only one who can re-direct me, I set into place God’s correction in the form of testing – is this His way to remind me of His great mercies?

Then I remember, my story is not so much about me as about the One whose sacrifice sustains me.  John the Baptist was still in prison when he asked if Jesus was the One.  There are many all around us who are asking this same question.  All I need do is share how real He is in my life.  Jesus Christ is the One who can perform miracles for those who hear His word.  I am the one who can speak about the fulfilment of His word.

janet

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Joshua 23, 24; Luke 6:27-49

“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord…

My husband and I made this choice for our family. We chose to follow God wherever he leads us. We chose to raise our children in the ways of the Lord. We made that choice when we were married and we continue to choose that path daily.

But how do I live that out?

Joshua offered advice to the people of Israel before his death. He encouraged them to fear the Lord, to remember everything the Lord has done and how He fought nations for them. He urged them to be sincere in their service, and to be faithful. He told them to put away the gods of other nations, to keep their eyes on the Lord and His laws, to not turn aside to the right or to the left.

And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the Lord your God who has fought for you…Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left…but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day. Joshua 23:3, 6, & 8

Out of all of the counsel Joshua gave, the piece of advice that stands out to me the most is to CLING to the Lord my God.

When I hear the word “cling”, the first image that comes to my mind is that of my daughters. When they want me to hold them, they don’t want me to let them go, they hold on so tightly to my neck, to my body, that it is nearly impossible for me to peel them away. I can’t do anything to be released from their grasp. They hold on so tight sometimes, it’s as if they are stuck to me like Velcro or like superglue.

No matter what is happening in my life God wants me to cling to Him the way my girls cling to me. When things are good and I am filled with happiness, when I am on the proverbial cloud 9. When I am feeling connected to Him, connected to my husband, to my children, to family and friends, He wants me to cling to Him. And, when things aren’t going well, in the midst of the trials I face, the struggles I experience in daily life, the times of spiritual dryness, the seasons of turmoil, God wants me to cling to Him even more.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49

He wants me to cling to His love and grace. He wants me to cling to His Words. He wants me to cling to His commands. He wants to be my Firm Foundation, my Rock and my Redeemer. He wants to be my strength so that I will not be shaken when the floods of circumstances, of enemy assignments, beat against me and try to make me falter and fall.

He wants me to dig deep into Him, to build my life, my foundations on Him, in Him, through Him. He wants me to hold on and never let go.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your strength, for being my Rock and my foundation. Help me cling to You always, in the good times and in the bad, so that my life will be a testimony of Your Glory. Help me and my family live out our commitment to follow You, to serve You in everything. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

 

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Joshua 21-22; Luke 6:1-26

Sometimes I have much more in common with the Pharisees than with Jesus. In the first 11 verses of Luke 6 it is apparent that they like having control, calling the shots and  operating their little kingdoms off of their rules.  They like predictability; their religion essentially serves them, not God and certainly not others. If ruthlessly honest, I can relate.  Jesus clears the game board of their lives and introduces an entirely different order, one that is wild and holy and offers a view of life never seen before.

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. Luke 6:12

I get the sense that Jesus is doing something much more than working off a prayer list.  I imagine that this night long prayer vigil is a time of abiding, submitting, talking to the Father about events behind and before him. I imagine great joy and peace flowing back and forth between the Father and Son. Somehow, God imparts to Jesus the energy necessary to make key decisions and meet the innumerable needs of the people he loves.  I want this kind of love for God.

From this time of prayer, Jesus steps into the crowd with compassion, power and healing. It’s interesting that the scripture notes that Jesus is looking at his disciples.” He directly addresses them as he delivers the blessings and woes lesson.  He contrasts the lives of the poor to that of the Pharisees and tells them not to envy the Pharisee’s wealth and affluence, their well appointed tables and comfortable lives. Instead, he speaks of a way of life the Pharisees will never know. The kingdom of God is enjoyed in poverty; they will be satisfied, not left hungry and always wanting for more. They will know great joy in the midst of great sorrow. There will be rejoicing in spite of persecution, because they  know the Son of God.

There is abundant life if I leave Pharisee ways; when I turn from manipulation,  judgement, self justification and a tightly controlled, comfortable little world, Jesus delivers something altogether wonderful- the Kingdom of God. I pray that God shows me what that means today, moment by moment.

Klueh

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Joshua 19-20; Luke 5:17-39

There was probably a buzz that followed Jesus–enough that Pharisees showed up wherever he went:

17 One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus. Luke 5:17, NLT.

Or that people would take risks to get near him.

18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. Luke 5:18-19, NLT.

I wonder what Levi (Matthew) thought, sitting in his booth. I’d bet he had heard of Jesus, heard of the miracles he could do and the hope he offered. For someone whose job was loathsome, he might have wanted a good dose of hope.

27 Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. 28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.

29 Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. 30 But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”

31 Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. 32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” Luke 5:27-32, NLT.

Levi (Matthew) was just sitting in a booth. He hadn’t professed that Jesus is Lord. He wasn’t thought of as righteous like the Pharisees. In fact, he was considered scum, like his friends. A bit of an outcast. I bet he knew what he’d get and who he’d be if he stayed there.

The world looks and labels, judges, rejects (or accepts). I’m glad Jesus sees the heart, the desires for change and healing. He’s ok with the baggage we bring, he can carry it. Or, like he did for Levi (Matthew), he makes it easy to leave everything behind and follow him.

Lord, there’s a lot of stuff I want to put behind me. Seems like every morning that baggage is at my bedside and I trip over it, kick it aside, watch it spill out, or I pick it up and take it with me. I know what I get when I stay where I am (in thoughts that play [failure] over and [worry] over). Lord, you are my hope for healing and freedom. I’m keeping my eyes on you today.

Courtney (66books365)

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Josh. 16-18, Luke 5:1-16

I don’t usually do Lent but this year I thought I’d give it a shot. Instead of giving something up I decided to try getting back in the habit of journaling for forty days. I haven’t hit my goal every day but it’s helped some.

I wanted to start writing—my own thoughts to my own brain—just to take a look under the hood, with a purpose. I watched a TED Talk today about the importance of stepping back and observing thoughts and feelings as they float by. The speaker submitted that 47% of our time is spent lost in thought. That’s almost half a life oblivious to my own thoughts. That means I’m only really aware of half of what’s going on around me, the other half I’m chasing a worry, a daydream, a regret, a memory.

So I wanted to put pen to paper and get tangible with what I’m really thinking; feeling.

I’d like to say the first few days were super great and a total breakthrough. Really, I just ended up whining about some stuff. A few more days went by, more of the same. But I was beginning to find my voice again. My voice to myself.

Then one day, as I was whining, I ended up sending the whine up to God. I realized that there was nothing I could really do about what I was complaining about and needed help. I needed to send it out.

Now, I realize that this isn’t a great formula for prayer, so I wouldn’t much recommend it. I do know, however, that my path to self-awareness often leads to helplessness. And that this helplessness, that of a child, leads me into prayer.

Luke 5:15-16 – “But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”

Before things got busy, before he could even sense helplessness, before the next gig, seminar, sermon, meeting, meal—Jesus, the Son of God, took time to withdraw and pray.

I’m still working this habit out in my life. Please pray for me.

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Joshua 14-15; Luke 4:33-44

I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan…For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’ “Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise-even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So give me the hill county that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.” Joshua 14:10-13 NLT

As I read Joshua 14, I see a man who has a great sense of peace and purpose at all the stages of his life. He knows that God isn’t finished with him yet. He doesn’t give up and keeps persevering. This gives me hope to remember God’s promises for my life. I think about how Joshua might have missed out on seeing God’s promises fulfilled, if he was stubborn or lazy and followed his own path. He had an ability to see how God could use his life to bring Him glory. It seems like he knew that the battle was bigger than his eyes could see. So many times I see the miracles that Jesus has performed in my own life and I lose faith so quickly, especially when I rely on myself.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             “Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey him, and they flee at his command!…I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for this reason I have been sent.” Luke 4:36,44 NLT                                                                                                                                                                   Am I living in such a way that I can see my struggles and trials are not all about me? Trusting in God and leaning into Him to not just get me through, but have victory?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to this earth to save me. I want to be used by You to multiply Your kingdom. I am thankful for when I get the chance to see how my pain and victories might help someone else. Knowing that there is a bigger plan and purpose that will matter for eternity. Help me to not lose sight of that. I give You all the praise and glory. Thank you that You are always with me and You are my Hope. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Joshua, Luke, New Testament, Uncategorized