Monthly Archives: June 2015

2 Chronicles 5-7; Psalm 121; 1 Timothy 4

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from the mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life!  God’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you-Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moon-stroke. God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.” Psalm 121:1-8 MSG

I saw a FB friend questioning God’s protection after the shootings at the African Church in Charleston, SC. She is not a believer and was trying to wrap her mind around it all. As so was I. She posted the question, “If God can’t protect you in his house-where can he protect you?” I wanted to tell her that God is with her always and He was with them too.  It didn’t matter where they were gathered, just that they were praying to their Father. Even though I am sure they could feel God’s presence, her question got me thinking… “Where do I run to feel safe?”

You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion…We’re banking on on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers…Cultivate these things, immerse yourself in them…Don’t be diverted.” 1 Timothy 4:6-16 MSG

Just as Solomon wanted to move the Arc of the covenant from Zion to The Temple. I am reminded that I can’t go anywhere to flee God’s presence. Sometimes I can get so caught up in where I am worshiping, that I forget that I am worshiping with my life. That His glory shines through me.

Then a billowing cloud filled The Temple of God. The priests couldn’t even carry out their duties because of the cloud-the glory of God!-that filled The Temple of God.” 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 MSG

Thank you Father, that You are always with me, even until the end of the age. I ask that You would be with the families of the shooting victims. I pray they would feel Your presence in the midst of this tragedy. And anyone else who is suffering a loss in their lives. Thank you that there is the Hope of heaven and of spending eternity with You. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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I Kings 8; Psalm 30; 1 Timothy 3

I Tim 3: 9 “…holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.”  Mysterious is the faith in the Son of God who came from heaven to earth in the flesh to give His life for ours. Not only the unfathomable, supernatural concept of salvation, but the desire of God to demonstrate His great love for His creation through sending His Son Jesus Christ to show us how to serve one another.

How often I have prayed to be a faithful servant of God! Words of loyalty; commitments of service to individuals, groups, and leadership; tearful confessions of ambition or apathy; shocking realizations of failure in that which I poured out my heart and soul –  describes “My glory…” that is, my inner being seeking to please God, man, or self. At the end of the day nothing will matter more to me than if I served God well.

This desire to be a faithful servant has the potential to put me in overdrive. Like yesterday when I raced to complete each task hoping to do my best and praying that God would show up.  At the end of the day, I reflected on all that I had wanted to accomplish. Though everything was not done as I had planned, I realized that God did not dwell in my works. Instead, I saw Him through the eyes and words of others that spoke more about my efforts in building relationships than any product of my hand. It’s real to say that I did not walk away patting myself on the back saying, “Good job.”  In fact, only my faith in the God who loves me is able to take away the sting of an honest evaluation of any one day. There is always room for improvement.

Still, I can pray these words from I Kings 8:23 “…Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keeps Your covenant and shows mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all of their hearts.” God’s mercy is the golden ring of serving; for being a faithful servant means putting oneself out there for others to see and making mistakes along the way. Mercy is the Way to receive joy in serving. So I look to Jesus Christ with all of my heart. He is the example of perfect servant-hood. He gives His servants mercy, and when I look to Him, like the psalmists of old, my inner being begins to sing – “To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent…” Psalm 30:12.

At the end of the day, my song may not be original, but what is amazing is that God does fill me with His presence when I praise Him, when I sing to Him, and when I meditate on His word. Mysterious is this faith that produces supernatural peace at the end of the day and hope for new mercies in the morning.

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1Kings 7; 2Chronicles 4: Psalm 44; 1 Timothy 2

Watching the news can be like anesthesia; the trauma of lost and displaced lives adds up as stories of power struggles, wars, violence and natural disasters leave me feeling numb. The faces on the screen no longer feel real. I pick up the remote, turn off the television and move on with my day.

But then the news happens to people I know, people with ordinary lives, people like me. I befriend a visiting Turkish student who unsuccessfully tried to help a homeless Syrian family who showed up on her street; I meet young Ukrainians who will return to an uncertain and war scarred region at the end of the summer. Their future and safety are to be determined. Then there’s the local pastor and his wife who lost their son to random gun violence as he returned home from a high school graduation party.

It is a broken, fallen world and who do we ask to fix it? The weight of the world can fall heaviest on the shoulders of our leaders; look at our two term Presidents and compare photos taken at the beginning and end of their administrations; the differences are pronounced.  Leadership exacts an exorbitant toll. Regardless of whether or not I like a leader and his or her policies, God has allowed that person to occupy a place of power. Paul has clear instructions for us concerning our leaders,

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we might live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good and please God our Savior who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:1.

Lord forgive me for when I am more likely to complain about a leader than actually pray for them. May I put my trust first in you as my Savior and Deliverer, and not fail to lift up those in authority over me. Amen

Klueh

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1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 3; 1 Timothy 1

He speaks as a father to a son.

Fathers, legacy, teaching, leadership, love–these things mean a lot to me.

1 Kings 6, 2 Chronicles 3 both speak of building a temple. I smiled at the details, because it reminds me of the thought and care that one might put into building a home. And home is a rich word. Old Testament building a home with cedars and gold, but in the New Testament, building up a home with guidance and encouragement. A home is more than ceilings and walls. A home is a first stop where hearts are shaped.

Paul speaks to Timothy as a father to a son.

Old Testament describes a house for the Lord, the attention to detail, the honor bestowed in beauty–a home built by a heart for God.

New Testament speaks of building a heart for God, words passed in love from a father to a son, to equip.

18 Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. 19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. 1 Timothy 1:18-19, NLT.

Paul’s instructions are for all believers.

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. 1 Timothy 1:5-6, NLT.

God, help my heart to be open to your instruction. Sometimes shipwrecking storms pull me apart and my conscience battles doing right. Sometimes I’m not even clear about what right is. Help me to guard my heart, so that it would be pure, my conscience clear and my faith genuine.

Courtney (66book365)

 

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1 Kings 5, 2 Chronicles 2, 2 Thessalonians 3

“The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him except as a place to make offerings before him?”  2 Chronicles 2:5-6

The bible tells us that Solomon was the wisest person. His declaration of God’s greatness reminds me of how small I am. Who am I that God is mindful of me? That he thinks of me and loves me? There are times when His greatness is so evident in my mind and my spirit that I don’t even have words to praise him. I understand a little bit of how Solomon felt when he underwent the task to build a house for the Lord. It was a task so large that he had to recruit over 150,000 men. Even with all the help and all the money he had to build a beautiful mansion, he was still in awe of God’s greatness. He still felt unworthy and honored to build this special place. A place his father had always wanted to build.

This is inspiring to me. So often I want to do things for the Lord. I want to volunteer my time, be nicer or more loving or more gracious or more ……. You fill in the blank. I’m sure you could add a few things to that list. I want to be more and do more for the Lord. But there are never enough things I could do or be that would make the Lord any more awesome than He already is. There aren’t enough things for me to do that could come close to praising or glorifying him enough. So often, I live day to day trying to please the Lord with my flesh. If I sit down and really evaluate my motives for doing something good, there is usually some tiny little piece of my heart that is doing it for selfish or fleshly reasons. Recently, the Lord has convicted my heart in that area and I have realized I am not allowing the Spirit to lead me in ways to serve Him.

I don’t want to get so caught up in doing a good thing that I forget who I’m doing it for.

O, Lord. You are awesome. There are no words to praise you enough. There is no amount of good deeds I could do to glorify you enough. Spirit, lead me in ways I can serve you with my whole heart and convict me when my motives are selfish. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Song of Sol 7-8; Psalm 127; 2 Thess 2

What’s the God-metric pressure in your home today?

What is the God-metric pressure, anyway? Well… you’ve heard of barometric pressure, right? When the barometric pressure is very low, terrible storms result… epic blizzards in winter and intense hurricanes during the summer months. Similarly, if the God-metric pressure in your home is low, high levels of adversity, difficulty, and hardship will be experienced. A God-metric pressure that is high, when the home environment is intentionally focused on God’s model for the family, peace, love, compassion, and harmony are more the rule than the exception. But unlike barometric, which we have no control over, God-metric pressure is completely controllable… and best of all, it’s a choice that we can make. And in this season of Father’s Day, as men, we need to, as Chip Ingram in the House or Home, God’s Blueprint for Marriage states, we’re supposed to “step up and not step on” as we lead our families. And this leading is contingent on our relationship with Jesus Christ and where we choose to place Him in the context of our families. But the family needs more than just men… it requires both husband and wife to work together for a common good… the family and their children based on God’s perfect model.

How’s your family’s God-metric pressure today? Strong, vibrant, peaceful, with compassion and love being demonstrated toward each other? Or is the family atmosphere filled with anger, yelling, and harshness? Today, more than ever before, families are under attack, and unless we’re willing to proclaim Jesus as the rock and foundation the home is built on, there is no way we’ll be able to sustain the spiritual storm we’re being exposed to on a regular basis. The photo I’ve included in this posting is so incredibly descriptive of what it is that I’m writing about.

Like this lighthouse, which is being pummeled by a terrible storm, today’s family is under attack through overt online filth, overuse of social media which is quickly replacing necessary communication within and outside of the family, inappropriate programming on television, unprecedented violence against women and children as the intended targets, and the removal of any reference to God in schools and everyday life. But, look carefully at the lighthouse in the photo… regardless of the impact of the immense, powerful waves, it remains steady… rooted in the firm foundation of the rock it is built on. An amazing analogy that we should be modeling our own lives and the lives of our families after, as it’s not a matter of if we’ll get hit by adversity, but when… and when we do, will we crumble under the intense pressure of life’s storm? The answer lies in who or what we choose to build our homes on.

Lighthouse upon a firm foundation

In today’s reading, I focused my work on Psalm 127, particularly Psalm 127:1 stating that “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” God holds the family unit in the highest regard and we, as parents, have an obligation to our children to make the family a priority… to defend the family from any and all adversity founded on the foundation of Jesus Christ. The divorce rate amongst original marriages has risen to the 50% mark, and even higher when dealing with remarried couples. As a Christian seeking answers to these frightening statistics, I’ve concluded that families have 3 definite adversaries… the world, our own flesh nature, and the enemy, Satan, himself. God speaks to us in Ephesians 6:12 stating “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

But Satan’s attack on the family should be no surprise to us, right? We saw him at work in the Garden of Eden… and in full view of Eve’s assigned protector… her partner Adam. Genesis 3:6 speaks that Eve “also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” So, we’re up against an amazingly cunning and veil adversary, who works both in the dark and out in the light, to break apart the family unit. In 2 Corinthians 11:14, we’re told “and no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” He is a liar and a deceiver, who does not abide in truth. I’m sure if you take some time to reflect, you’ll come up with at least a dozen things that keep the family from remaining as close and as strong as they once were.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to reclaim our families! We can do this by working together and being proactive in obedience to God’s Word… by doing, living, and acting out God’s plan for our lives and in the lives of our families. And just as a master builder would never consider building a home, or a lighthouse, on a weak or fragile foundation, we, as humans, must confess our dependence on God as the one true foundation if we’re to stand a chance against this relentless enemy that does not rest. We must persevere… the sanctity of the family unit is at stake! And while we may not experience the fruit our efforts in the near term, God will honor the planting of ‘seeds’ and the effort to maintain the integrity of the family.

Father… so many of Your children are screaming that they are tired of trying to run their homes their way. Today, we commit to being the men and women You have called us to be, to use You and Your Word as the foundation to build our homes on. We declare today that we want to raise our families according to Your plan, not ours. And just as You were tempted by Satan and all his empty promises, we shout out “Away from me, Satan! For it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only!”” (Matthew 4:10).

Amen!

gstefanelli (Greg Stefanelli)

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Song of Sol 4-6; 2 Thessalonians 1

“Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:4

We live in a climate that is increasingly hostile toward Christianity. And, a culture in turmoil over racial tension. While we do need to recognize and address these issues, we also need to keep driving to the heart of the matter and responding with God’s love.

Second Thessalonians offers some perspective and some hope . . .

“For after all it is only just for God to  . . . give relief to you who are afflicted.”

The passage goes on to have some harsh words for those that afflict followers of Christ. Sometimes we are targeted simply because of our faith, and other times, like this past week, people see only our earthly shell.

Because man looks on the outward appearance. God looks on the heart. Man sees race. God sees people, souls.

While many of us were at prayer meetings, small groups, youth group, or various church activities, things changed. Nine lives lost. A disturbing motive.

I walk into church many Wednesday evenings. My last thought is that I would come face to face with a killer there. I expect a refuge, hope, love. That’s the environment we should create for all who enter. Looking at the heart, the need. Heart breaking that we need to consider the possibility, raise walls of protection yet again, because a person (as many others do, but maybe without the violent calculations) looked at skin color.

What’s my response? Speak proudly of their faith. Stand up and against racial violence. It might be the start of some uncomfortable conversations and awkward encounters, but our faith propels us to speak out and live out God’s love.

Lord God, please move in our land. Renew people’s thinking, bring new life where sin currently controls. Here am I, send me. ~Amen

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