Monthly Archives: May 2015

2 Samuel 15-17; Psalms 3 and 63; Romans 1

Aside from the Lord’s Prayer, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and the Doxology, I grew up understanding prayer as something being spontaneous and free flowing. Prayer emerged from need (in my mind’s eye, Mom is taking notes while on the phone as part of the church prayer chain).  So often, my own words fail to articulate the thoughts and deep longings swirling around inside of me. It’s been later in life that ancient, written prayers have brought me into God’s company.

Jews prayed and sang psalms across the millennia. I imagine Jesus praying  Psalm 63 out loud in the temple with his Jewish brothers. Reading the Psalm through this lens magnifies its force and meaning. I find myself calling out to God repeatedly, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my should thirsts for you, my body longs for you…” as I crave his nearness, his presence.  “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.” Just like David, God invites me to enjoy his mysterious and divine company. How in the world can this be true? “Because your love (hesed/lovingkindness/mercy) is better than life…”

When I receive and accept God’s invitation to draw near him and be in his presence, “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods.” The Hebrew words for the “richest of foods” mean “fat” and “abundance” not “malnourished” and  “inadequate.”  The satisfied soul can’t help but respond with gratitude and joy.

When I enter into God’s company, this place where I quiet myself to hear his words of love and acceptance, I know his protection and care. When I open myself up to his Word, when scriptures and songs about God come into my thoughts, the invitation to receive his love resounds. It can happen throughout the day or even in the wee hours of the morning, On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.”  When I set aside distractions and set my focus on Christ, I know his peace and protection. “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” So why do I choose business and distraction over the invitation to lean into God?

Hearing and accepting God’s call to draw near doesn’t guarantee a constant spiritual and emotional high. David wrote plenty of other psalms which described feelings of abandonment and loneliness, but he consistently, faithfully acknowledges God’s faithfulness, “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”  This  prayer anchors me to God no matter what the circumstance or the state of my emotional wellbeing. The truth is that when I call out to God, I call on the One who hears me… loves me… and holds me close to his heart.

klueh

 

 

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2 Samuel 13-14; Acts 28

David knew family dysfunction. One son’s sinful desires leads to rape, leads to murder, leads to estrangement–a lot of broken pieces, shattered and scattered and can’t be put back together the same way again. When the woman from Tekoa speaks to David about a situation, these beautiful words stand out to me.

13 She replied, “Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” 2 Samuel 14:13-14, NLT.

The imagery and depth are beautiful to me, but my God is so much more–the one who devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.

Am I like Absalom, Lord, who stews in anger at being held at arm’s length? When David agrees to his return but refuses to reconcile (acknowledge him or even look upon Absalom), I know this rejection–to live a life near someone and feel totally invisible. Unworthy. Unaccepted.

Am I like David, Lord, with limitations and restrictions? Is it possible David agreed to Absalom’s return only because the woman had him pegged? Was his heart not in it? Certainly one can do the right thing for the sake of doing right, but lack love (sometimes known as civility). I’ve done that too.

Jesus, I see you at the table, serving bread and wine to Judas. I see you on the shore, eye to eye with Peter asking, “Do you love me?” You were the plan for bringing us back–God who devises ways to bring those back who’ve been separated from him by sin. You didn’t forgive us for your sake, but for ours. Thank you for loving me and showing me how to love, for forgiving me and showing me how to forgive. Thank you for valuing my life so much that you would not sweep it away, but look for ways to bring me back to you. Your love–unconditional and eternal–the true example of a father’s love for a child. I’m grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

 

 

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2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20; Psalms 51, 32; Acts 27

 The lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.

I will advise you and watch over you.

Do not be like a senseless horse or mule

that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Psalm 32:8-9

Parenting is NOT for the faint of heart!

Yesterday was one of the scariest days of my life. I could not find my 4 year old daughter anywhere. She disappeared while she was playing outside in the few minutes that I went inside to take care of my dog poop/mud-covered 2 ½ year old. For more than an hour, I (along with other friends, family, and even people I didn’t know) searched around 6+ acres of property, inside houses and out, for more than an hour before she was found.

The police finally found her in our upstairs neighbor’s apartment hiding in her friend’s room, playing with toys; they were gone for the day, but the door had been left unlocked and she went right in not caring if anyone was home or not. I noticed the door open and had searched the apartment 3 times and my mom searched once, each of us calling for her to say ‘I’m here’, telling her that we weren’t playing a game of hide and seek and we just wanted to see her face, but we never saw her. My daughter told me later that she didn’t respond because she didn’t want to stop playing.

I think I felt every imaginable emotion and thought of every possible (horrible) scenario, and as much as I felt like yelling and screaming at her, once she was found, I also just wanted to hold her for as long as possible because she was safe!

I ended up waiting to talk to her about what had happened until I knew I had better control over myself. I felt like if I lost self-control, I would also lose a teachable moment.

As I began processing how I would talk with her about it, I thought about how in my own life there have been so many moments like this – times when I’ve ignored what I knew was ‘right’ to get my own way.

And yet, God has never ‘lost it’ with me, He lovingly guides me to better understanding. He gives me counsel and watches over me until I am able to make good choices. He gives me freedom to learn how to manage myself.

As I strive to parent as effectively as possible, I need to continue to imitate my Heavenly Father as He parents me, allowing me to make bad choices, and trusting in His goodness and love to lead me with His eye.

Yesappa, Help me have Your guiding eyes that offer true freedom! In Jesus’ name.Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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2 Samuel 9-10; 1 Chronicles 18-19; Psalm 89; Acts 26

“Paul took a stand and told his story….”The voice answered , I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down like an animal. But now, up on your feet-I have a job for you. I’ve handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what’s happened today, and to what I am going to show you. “I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.” Acts 26:15-18 MSG

God chose David and Paul to share His story with the world. They were chosen despite their failures and shortcomings. They were humble enough to let God chisel away at their sinful nature to make them more like Himself. Am I? They didn’t stay stuck where they were, but let God change their hearts.

Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it! I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I’ll never quit telling the story of your love- how you built the cosmos and guaranteed everything in it. Your love has always been our lives foundation, your fidelity has been the roof over our world. You once said, “I joined forces with my chosen leader, I pledged my word to my servant David, saying, ‘Everyone descending from you is guaranteed life; I’ll make your rule as solid and lasting as a rock.” Psalm 89:1-4 MSG

Dear Father, I pray that Your presence would be seen in my life so that I am a blessing to those around me. Give me the courage to move past the things that are holding me back. So, that Your glory will shine through my life and bring others to You. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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2 Samuel 7-8; 1 Chronicles 17; Psalm 132; Acts 25

II Samuel 7:11 “Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.”

King David wanted to build a temple, an earthly house, for God’s presence to dwell; but God responded by saying that He would build David a house, a dynasty, from which our Messiah would come. Where does God want to live?

After owning a house for over 30 years, it has been difficult for me to move, not once but four times in the past five years.  Each move a lesson in letting go – separating self from friendly faces full of promise and breaking ties with coveted objects like the shattered ceramic pitcher completer of Grandma’s china set.

God allowed David to build His house, complete with detailed instructions to David and his son, Solomon, and that structure was glorious for the years that it stood before the temple’s total destruction. Glorious and yet a small thing compared to God’s promise for David’s offspring. I Chronicles 17:12-14 quotes God saying to David, “I will establish his throne…I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him…and I will establish him in my house and in my kingdom forever.”

What is the purpose of a house? A place where a man can hang his hat, a refuge from the storms in life, a labyrinth of secret cubby holes for giggling children to play hide and seek, an extension of a woman’s character and kindness? Houses are occupied and vacated, built and torn down, inherited or sold with barely a memory. Even the churches in which we worship are not our eternal dwellings.

We promise God that we will use our homes and our churches for His glory as if these wooden beams and nailed panel walls will hold His glory.  Like David, we promise God “I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob” (Psalm 132:4,5). Do we really believe that these homes we cherish and that will perish with the last breath we take are exchanged for mansions in the heavens? I find this Hollywood image of a multi-million dollar open house viewing meaningless. Craning my neck at the end of a long, stately table to get a good look at Christ causes me anxiety. I fear that I am of no concern in the grand scheme of eternal life, so I do not find comfort and peace in my worldly view of the Big House in the Sky. I cannot think that I will find a dwelling place for Christ by walking or driving or flying. It seems too simple an assertion that I will see Christ in the next room or down the hall from where He sleeps.

David was humbled by God’s answer to his prayer. God basically said, yes, yes, David, go on and build me a house.  But understand that what you see is not my home; My Holy One will dwell inside you, your descendants, and people of all nations to come. And when you die, you will still be with Me; no separation, no loss, no doors between Us, and no moving away. We are His temple; not just a flesh and bones house. Our spirit hears His voice when He calls us home – His home – His eternal dwelling untethered from this earthly tent.

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