Monthly Archives: April 2014

2 Samuel 23-24; Luke 22:31-53

Perhaps one of the most dynamic characters in the bible is Peter. Peter transforms from the mouthpiece of the disciples with the foot-shaped mouth to the coward in the corner at the cock crow and later to the unstoppable soldier for Christ’s kingdom in Acts.

So what made the difference? What accounts for his night and day change?

Andrew Murray in his commentary on the character of Peter sheds light:

“Before the cock crow twice thou shalt deny me thrice.”

But with what self-confidence Peter said: “Though all should forsake thee, yet will not I. I am ready to go with thee, to prison and to death.”

Peter meant it honestly, and Peter really intended to do it; but Peter did not know himself. He did not believe he was as bad as Jesus said he was.

Murray points to Peter’s own knowledge of himself as the culprit. He was all talk but little action.

Today in education, and most everywhere, values are instilled to improve people’s “self-confidence.” It is a crime to do anything to damage someone’s self-esteem. Students are told they are capable and can do anything. This has bearing in some sense but is lacking in another.

When someone is humble they are said to be “self-less.” But to lack self is not enough.

We perhaps think of individual sins that come between us and God, but what are we to do with that self-life which is all unclean, our very nature? What are we to do with that flesh that is entirely under the power of sin? Deliverance from that is what we need. Peter knew it not, and therefore it was that in his self-confidence he went forth and denied his Lord.

It is Christ Jesus who can rid you of it [self]; none else but Christ Jesus can give deliverance from the power of self. And what does He ask you to do? He asks that you should humble yourself before Him.

 

True humility, taking a correct position before God, with hearts as vessels to be filled and used, is enough to make us truly self-less because we will be Christ-centered. This is the only way to change.

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2 Samuel 21-22; Luke 22:1-30

David sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. 2 Samuel 22:1 NLT.

The day we loaded up the kids’ play set in our real estate agent’s box truck, my husband set the radio to my favorite station. I had never driven a big truck like that, and it was intimidating to me. He turned it around so all I had to do was put it in drive and go. We were starting a new chapter of our lives in many respects. When I turned the corner that led to our next house, a song came on the radio: Move, by Mercy Me.

I laughed at the soundtrack life offered up.

That was the year I picked “worship” as a focus word.

That year, God taught me a lot about worship.

When I couldn’t think of a song to praise him, he gave me song. And when I couldn’t find the voice to worship him, he gave me tears. He showed me how to worship not just with my lips, but with my life.

There were other songs during that time I walked in the valley. And when I hear those songs today, I straddle a line of before and after, and I can praise God for his faithfulness, his provision, his protection, and his mercy.

I hung out with David a lot during that time. His mess, his faith, his fear, his cry–all taught me about worship and how to do it from the pit. My cave looked different. And my enemies did too. But my God is still the same: rock, fortress, savior, refuge.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
    my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
    and my place of safety.
He is my refuge, my savior,
    the one who saves me from violence.
I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and he saved me from my enemies. 2 Samuel 22:2-4 NLT

Alleluia.

Father, I learned so much those years in struggle and depression. Thank you for walking beside me.

Courtney (66books365)

From the archives. Originally published September 26, 2013.

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2 Samuel 17-18; Luke 21:1-19

You will be hated by everyone because of my name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Luke 21:17-19

– – – – – – –

The eschatological, end times, prophetic portions in Jesus’ teachings, and in the hebrew scriptures, are always a bit of a struggle for me. Not necessarily the fear aspect, although I know that’s common, and definitely there for me as well. For me the struggle is more one of knowledge, or lack thereof.

I often find myself with the Disciples, wanting to know when? When is all this going to happen? 

People often say to ‘live everyday like it’s your last.’ You can do good with that or bad, all depending on how you see the world. 

If we’re honest about what we’d do if it was our last day, week, month, etc on earth, it will reveal deep things about ourselves. What do we really take joy in? What really gives us fulfillment?

What really are we supposed to be doing with our time here on earth?

If I can be honest for a moment, if today was my last day on earth, I don’t know if I’d do much differently. 

I’d go to church, play some soccer with friends, have a last cup of coffee with my wife, maybe go on a hike. 

As I think through my day, I realized I probably wouldn’t end up standing on a street corner telling people the end is near. It’s just not really my disposition. I probably would engage a few friends and family members that aren’t yet following Jesus. But I don’t think I’d make a tremendous impact on tons of lives.

This reveals something I hadn’t t thought about before. The way I normally live my life, is exactly how I’d live my last day, even if I knew it was my last day. 

I don’t think it would make any difference!

And there’s a bit of a problem there. 

In every single ‘end times’ passage, Jesus’ point was always this: “Be Ready!”

Am I ready?

Do I even know what it would take to be ready?

To me, being ready for the end simply means taking full advantage of each and every opportunity that The Lord brings my way. It means taking a little more time to care for people, setting aside the empty things that clog up my time. 

Truth be told, I’m definitely not ready. 

Lord would you show me today, what it might look like, to be ready for your return. When you come on the clouds in glory, finishing the work of the Kingdom in drawing all people to yourself. And would you give me the power by your Sprit, to take advantage of the opportunities that will meet me today.

-Sam

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2 Samuel 17-18; Luke 21:1-19

2 Samuel 17:14 “’For the advice of Hushai the Archite is better than the advice of Ahithophel.’ For the Lord had purposed to defeat the good advice of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring disaster on Absalom.”

Luke 21:14, 15 “Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.”

Sometimes I wish I would just stop talking.  My attempts to be witty make me the butt of the joke since I can never remember the punch line, or I use the wrong word or phrase in an attempt at sarcasm, or I state the obvious when trying to sound profound.

Other times my head hurts with all my deep thinking and introspection, as if I could solve the world’s problems with rational formulas. I end up with more questions than answers.

What would it be like to speak only what the Lord intended? What if you knew as you spoke that what you said came from God?

Is there a way to know when this will happen?  We read that we don’t have to stew over what to say, and even that others cannot resist the words we speak if that is what God intends.  Is this only for war time?  Does this only occur in the end of days?

There have been times when I have not prepared what to say and found that the questions asked prompted me to speak truth, wisdom, and peace that brought about change.  The experiences left me feeling humbled by a Presence larger than my intellect.

I am convinced that God speaks His will into our lives and through our obedience.  And if I could find a way to speak only what His Holy Spirit moves me to say, how much more effective and healing my words would bring.  If I could see with spiritual eyes what to pick up, what to put away, and what to hold in holy gaze, how many more people might acknowledge Christ.  But there I go again, trying to prepare my mouth and mind,  as if I had any control in the matter.

What I do have is a direct line to God; we all do who call Him Lord.  We can rest in His Promise, the Helper, to speak into us what God intends.  That is our calling, to wait for His move and prepare to open our mouth once God, Himself, fills it with His purpose.

May it be always.

Janet

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2 Samuel 15, 16; Luke 20:27-47

And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Luke 20:45-47


After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:1-6

My grandparents had a spunky Jack Russell terrier named WYSIWYG (pronounced “wiz-ee-wig”). WYSIWYG is an acronym for ‘what you see is what you get.’ Whenever I think about this phrase I think about the importance of being authentic, of being exactly who I am. It is about projecting my true self and not hiding my sinful nature or making myself out to be greater than I really am.

In the 10 or so years that I struggled with extreme depression I got very good at hiding myself from others. I would don different masks for different people giving them the face I thought that they most wanted to see. I didn’t realize that what many of those people really wanted was the real me.

When God removed depression from my soul and started healing my heart, I began to understand that showing my true self, being vulnerable when sharing my struggles, admitting when I stumble and fall, laying out the good and the bad, being honest about my experience and being truthful in love, needed to be what I offered to the world.

When I am upfront and honest with people about who I am it leaves no room for pride; it’s impossible for me to think I am better than someone else when they know about the skeletons in my closet. When being genuine, it is impossible to be deceitful, two-faced, and backbiting. Revealing the truth of who I am doesn’t allow for self-importance or ego, because it reminds me of how hopeless, how helpless I am without Christ in my life.

I have found that in the ministry that I do, honesty is what connects me to people. I am able to meet them right where they are, the way that God meets me in my journey. I am able to share openly about my struggles and how God has walked with me through them. I can offer them hope through my testimony, instead of condemnation and judgment. I can offer a clean slate in Jesus, and healing through His love.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your blood and Your redeeming glory, that revives me and makes me whole, that takes away my shame and allows me to be real with those around me. Continue to remove every trace of hiddenness that tries to keep me disconnected from you and from others. Help me always walk in authenticity, living a life a truth in love. 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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2 Samuel 13-14; Luke 20:1-26

Who gave you this authority?

Luke 20:2

This is the fundamental question of our lives. Who is in charge and can they be trusted? Is the authority Wikipedia? Our own personal sense of what’s right and wrong or some vague pluralistic, culturally relevant amalgamation of morality that shifts about? Who has THE answers to life’s fundamental questions? Jesus? Mohammed? Deepok Chopra? Buddha?

To answer this question is to understand who we are and how we should live. It’s a piercing, honest question that the Temple elite are asking Jesus. It’s also a trap they are attempting to set for him. The answer comes in the forms of parable and metaphor and continues to challenge us today.

” ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.’  Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” Luke 20:17-18

I have walked under beautiful European stone arches that have stood for centuries. In the very center is the capstone or keystone. If you pull that one stone away, the entire structure will collapse.  We should choose very carefully who or what is our life’s capstone. Building our lives on a defective or inadequate authority ends very badly. It has consequences that play out well beyond our lives here on earth.

Dare to ask the question repeatedly, “Who is my authority, right now, in this place?”  The answer determines the outcome of the small day to day questions as well as the big life questions (ex. who do I marry? what job do I take?). It’s not always a simple process, but knowing the truth of WHO is in charge brings me peace.  Jesus is that authority and I believe what Paul said about him:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17

I pray that God’s grace covers me as I find out what this means today.

Klueh

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2 Samuel 10-12; Luke 19:29-48

I had the worst hair cut ever. My teeth were a mess. My complexion was moody. And I had no idea how to put on makeup. This was middle school–a time in my life that I mostly remember as awkward. It was foundational ground where I learned about relationships too, and little did I know then that those relational experiences were a preview of things I would face as an adult.

My daughter is entering the middle school years. I watch her work it out–this mystery of determining who is a friend. I offer input when I can and hope she’ll listen. The one benefit I have now that I didn’t have in my time is the Bible. The Bible has a lot to say about relationships and friendships.

But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.

12 So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor …” 2 Samuel 11:27b-12:1 NLT.

Sometimes people will lead us into sin. Sometimes we get there all on our own. David knew what he did was wrong, and it appears the only person he was deceiving was himself. Only Nathan spoke up. I would bet lots of people talked about David and Bathsheba, but only one spoke to David.

There could have been a different ending to this story: Nathan could have kept silent; or David could have gotten mad and stayed in denial. I know of times when I tried to speak to someone where it totally blew up in my face. It makes me cautious. But I also think of the times I didn’t speak up and watched someone I love go down a path that left many casualties. I always wonder what could have been if I had braved the truth. Likewise, I have my own regrets of things I’ve done. In hindsight, I see the value of choosing good friends–because in big ways and in small ways, who we spend time with will shape who we are and what we do.

Lord, I pray for discernment. I pray for wisdom. I pray for a tender heart and open ears–that I would be receptive to a friend’s truth and repent of sinful ways. I pray to be a good friend and I pray to have godly friends. I pray for my girls, that they would always seek you. There is truly no greater joy than to know a child is walking in the truth.

Courtney (66books365)

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