Monthly Archives: June 2015

Song of Solomon 1-3; Psalm 72; 1 Thessalonians 5

Song of Solomon steams. Beloved enjoys the pleasures of being the singled out and pursued by her lover as well as the ecstasy and agony of being in love. Intimacy is a dance of expectation, anticipation and fulfillment…a losing and finding oneself…the fear of drawing near to something dangerous and consuming only to find wonder and joy. To read Song of Solomon is to witness the sensual nature of love.

Abandon ambivalence when reading these lines. Delight in the unfolding of an epic love story. Time stands still. There’s no scattered rushing about. Love is all consuming and its intricacies are savored with poetic metaphor. Beloved and Lover behold each other’s attributes. Beloved names her own beauty, “I am the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys (2:2).” And the couple affirms the passion and solidity of their relationship, “and our bed is verdant. The beams of our house are cedars; our rafters are firs. (1:16-17).”

Song of Solomon can be an invitation from God to appreciate the loves of my life: God, husband, family and friends. It has me asking myself questions. Do I take time for my most important relationships to grow and flourish or do I try to force them onto my to-do list (it’s the old quality versus quantity time debate)? Do I savor and wonder at the beauty of God, my husband, friends and family? Or do I race right by them on a high speed freeway I call life? Do I recognize my own beauty as the redeemed beloved of God?  Do I brush aside compliments and affection in vain attempts to build defensive walls of self pride that keep me from admitting vulnerability and my need for love?

It’s the grace of God that draws my soul towards him, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It the through his goodness that he has made me Jim’s wife; it’s through his further extravagance that he has provided family and friends. I pray that he keeps me from taking Him and others for granted and that my heart is eager to dwell on the riches of his love.

Klueh

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Proverbs 26-28; 1 Thessalonians 3

Proverbs reads like a vicious tug of war. Fools, lazy, greedy, jealous–the words are pounded with a judge’s gavel at each line. Some of those titles I’ve worn myself, and others I’ve recognized in relationships. The words are barbed, and the strike rips open memories that give new meaning to Throw Back Thursday.

Lately life has felt like a tug of war. And whether it’s been over responsibilities or relationships, I feel pulled in many directions, yanked, torn. The days carry me one foot in front of the other, and I find myself advancing towards deadlines and skirmishes. I try to clear my head and shake out the onslaught of weighty things–just run my race. Put some blinders on. One foot in front of the other.

Those who trust their own insight are foolish,
    but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe. Proverbs 28:26, NLT

I turned eagerly to the reading today because (because of a flare-up of a child’s chronic condition; a workload I’m not sure I can carry; backed-up toilets and a house gone haywire; rows of cards in the store and the battle I face at this time every year; invisibility) I need God.

I desperately need God.

My God, my Father. My God, my healer. My God, my savior. My God, my strength.

I found comfort in 1 Thessalonians 3.

We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.

But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 3:2b-8, NLT.

Lord, I don’t always know what to do. I don’t always handle pressure well. And sometimes I get so distracted by troubles that my faith gets misplaced. Help me to walk in wisdom. Thank you that you see me, and you’ll never forsake me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 26-28; 1 Thessalonians 3

People who conceal their sins will not prosper,

but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Blessed are those who fear to do wrong,

but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble. Proverbs 28:13-14

Before I was a believer, I thought that if I kept my ‘junk’ – my insecurities, envy, jealousy, anger, and the other sins of my heart – hidden from people that it would be as if it didn’t exist. I could put on a good face, a mask of innocence, and convince people that I was doing okay.

I came to a realization that no matter how well I kept it all hidden from my family and my friends (and I was probably deluding myself about how well I was keeping things secret anyway), I wasn’t keeping anything hidden from God.

He has full access to my heart, mind, and soul. He knows when sin has entered my heart, regardless of whether or not it shows to people. He knows when I am being stubborn and He knows when I am truly repentant.

Now that I follow Christ, I strive to walk in the freedom offered through salvation which Jesus granted to me through His finished work on the cross. I do my best to avoid what people consider the ‘big sins’, but in my humanness I still often commit sins of wrong attitudes.

I believe that God understands that I am going to sin, as much as He hopes that I wouldn’t; and, because of that awareness, He gives me second, thirds, fourth, etc. chances. Because He loves me so much, He extends His gift of grace to me each time I bring my failures to Him and lay them down at His feet.

When I confess my sins to Him, He forgives me and offers me mercy, allowing my past to no longer dictate what my future will look like. He heals my heart, gives me wisdom, and alleviates the trouble that may have been stirred up by my bad choices and He helps my destiny flourish. He gives me a testimony of His goodness and made me an overcomer.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your mercy and Your love. Thank You for Your forgiveness, and for helping me be transparent and vulnerable before You. Please, check my spirit when I sin in my heart so that I am more aware of my need to confess.And, grant me continuing grace as I journey through life. 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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Proverbs 24-25; Psalm 41; 1 Thessalonians 2

Like a cool drink of water when you’re worn out and weary is a letter from a long-lost friend.” Proverbs 25:25 MSG

I received her letter in the mail. I saw he name as was immediately filled with joy and regret for not reaching out to her more. Boy, did I miss her!…my long time mentor and friend. An unlikely friendship that God gave me where age didn’t matter. But it did, when I looked to her for wisdom and worried for her health. I was captured by her joy and closeness to Jesus. As I read her words that day I could almost hear her sweet tender voice. It was as if no time had passed.

Do you have any idea how homesick we became for you, dear friends? Even though it hadn’t been that long and it was only our bodies that were separated to from you, not our hearts, we tried our very best to get back to see you. You can’t imagine how much we missed you! I, Paul, tried over and over to get back, but Satan stymied us each time. Who do you think we’re going to be proud of when our Master Jesus appears if it’s not you? You’re our pride and joy!” 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 MSG

I have been so grateful that God has answered my countless prayers for a friend when I most needed one. Friendships that have been bonded by faith and have drawn me closer to Him. I have been so thankful to have laughed, loved and learned with friends. As well as been stretched and refined.  There have been other times when I have been wounded by the deep ache of lost friendship or betrayal. Where I am tempted to throw in the towel or hide and never be vulnerable again. But, I know that it is worth the risk to experience the deep blessing of friendship. The God who heals my broken heart will give me the strength to try again.

These “friends” who hate me whisper slanders all over town. They form committees to plan misery for me. The rumor goes out, “He’s got some dirty, deadly disease. The doctors have given up on him.” Even my best friend, the one I always told everything -he ate meals at my house all the time!-has bitten my hand. God, give grace, get me up on my feet. I’ll show them a thing or two. Meanwhile, I’m sure you’re on my side- no victory shouts yet from the enemy camp! You know me inside and out, you hold me together, you n ever fail to stand me tall in your presence so I can look you in the eye.” Psalm 41:7 -12 MSG

Thank you Father for the gift of friendship in my life. Thank you for your faithfulness. Help me to be a good friend and reach out to others with the love that You have shown me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Proverbs 22, 23; Psalm 117; I Thessalonians 1

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it,” (Proverbs 22:6). These words take on new meaning to me as I reflect on the responsibility of raising my daughter’s teenager.  Parenting my daughter was serious business, and I took the words from Proverbs to heart in those days.  Being a grandparent was a refreshing change because I had all the fun without the trials of butting heads, disciplining, and monitoring daily activities.  Now I must endeavor to bridge these two roles for I consider this child to be a gift from the Lord, now given to me.

Do you ever consider the relationships that have failed to flourish?  Whether these were parent/child, romantic, work related, authority figures, have you felt the remorse or regret over words and behaviors that were unseemly or even caused the break-up of the relationship?  There were times when my adult daughter and I did not see eye to eye on most of the important beliefs that I hold.  We may have even gone months without talking, yet I always loved her. Is God giving me another chance to love better this child of my daughter?  The thought pulls me to my knees for I remember my weaknesses as a parent. I pray for more wisdom and I lean on Christ to live as the Thessalonians were described – without ceasing the work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ (I Thessalonians 1:2). This child deserves no less from me.

So what will I do differently?  What have I learned over the 40 years I was a parent. (40 years – isn’t that how long Moses was in the desert preparing to lead the chosen people out of Egypt? Oh, boy!) The one thing I have learned is that all truth is found in Scripture. Those one, two, and multiple verse units in Proverbs have a depth of meaning that comes to light after application, observation, and living with consequences. Wise sayings about social justice, human behavior and interactions, public trust and fairness, rude and ignorant behavior toward those in authority, workaholics, alcoholics, treatment of the downtrodden, sucking up to the rich, and even manners at the table – pages of instruction for us all to follow and model to our children. Also, knowing that Moses’ temper cost him the Promised Land gives me great pause in my unbridled passion for perfection.  I have learned from experience the need to receive and to give mercy.

The quote from Proverbs 22:6 is not a promise but a principle. The principle is the mission statement of God’s parenting manual. Yet, there is a promise that repeats throughout God’s Word. God’s promise is that He will enable me for the task of guiding and encouraging this nearly young adult. “For His merciful kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the Lord endures forever.” (Psalm 117:2)

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Proverbs 19-21; Psalm 40; Romans 16

We all have times when we are bruised, shaken and disillusioned:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 1:1

When we cry out to Yahweh, we are changed. Our trembling legs find solid footing. Our wail of confusion and grief becomes a new song:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:2-3.

The mystery of God continues to amaze: I can not fathom why the great creator of the universe is concerned with me:

“Many, O Lord my God are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” Psalm 40:5

So Lord, do not let me “seal my lips” or “hide your righteousness in my heart,” but let me speak faithfully and honestly to others about what you have done for me. Lord, you are consistently good and gracious to me. When I cry out, you never turn your back on me; you are always quick to comfort and save, like a mother bear rushing to tend to her distressed cub.

So today Lord, I thank you for being my Comforter, Protector, Savior and Counsellor. Thank you for providing a new song and firm footing. It’s in your love that I put my trust. Amen

Klueh

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Proverbs 16-18; Romans 15

We can make our own plans,
    but the Lord gives the right answer. Proverbs 16:1, NLT

It was a nudging that became nagging–a questioning of plans. I felt unsettled with the choices before me. It was hard to decide. I picked the easier path.

We can make our plans,
    but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9, NLT

I rested easier having made a choice. But a few months later, the nagging returned unexpectedly, and undeniably.

We may throw the dice,
    but the Lord determines how they fall. Proverbs 16:33, NLT

I wanted to hear answers and guidance from the Lord, and yet when I did, I questioned, “Is that what you really mean?” “Is this something to be aware of or to act upon?” In a matter of a few nights’ sleep, something clear lost its definition.

The path of the virtuous leads away from evil;
    whoever follows that path is safe. Proverbs 16:17, NLT

Proverbs has a lot to say about the foolish, the wise, and paths.

Those who listen to instruction will prosper;
    those who trust the Lord will be joyful. Proverbs 16:20, NLT

Lord, how can I hear you and then so quickly forget? It’s like a whisper in a dream and I wake up foggy. Help me to hear you better, Lord: to believe you and trust you. Is that what this is really about?

Courtney (66books365)

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