Monthly Archives: July 2015

2 Kings 13-14; 2 Chronicles25; Psalm 53; Matthew 12

What fractured lives we can lead. In my head or on paper is my all important to-do list. This list sometimes drives the quality of my day, the value of my life. If items get completed and checked off, I am a success. If not, I have fallen short. It’s a ruthless task master. When it rules, people become objects who interfere with the master plan; I find myself rolling my eyes in Walmart, white knuckling the steering wheel in traffic and then snapping at anyone or thing getting in my way, be it the telemarketer calling as I make dinner or a slow loading computer. I can mask it all with a fake Zen-like smile while being eaten away internally. Is this abundant life? The Lord of the Sabbath speaks,

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30.

Jesus lives these words as he and his disciples take a Sabbath’s walk through the fields of grain and feed themselves on the Sabbath. The Pharisees challenge Jesus and his followers. They want him to play by their rules, on their to time frame and on their home turf. Jesus does not condemn the law, he condemns the stoney, confined hearts who use the law for their purposes, not God’s:

“I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’ you would have not condemned the innocent. For the Son of man is the Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:6-8

And then Jesus heals the man with the shriveled hand right then, on the Sabbath and in their midst. The Pharisees’ schedules, rules, their to-do lists are shredded to bits before their eyes. God is in their midst and they want to kill him.

Which brings me back to a life dictated by a to-do list. I have no doubt that God calls me to live by priorities, but when He, in all his wonder and grace is replaced by them, the heart stiffens and grows cold. Sabbath rest becomes a task, not the privilege derived from loving Jesus. Mercy is replaced by performance.

Lord, I want a life that seeks your Kingdom first and foremost. May your beauty and glorious imagination breathe life into the weary places in my soul. May I let go of what I know and can control and seize hold of you and the life you have called me to.  Amen.

Klueh

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Jonah 1-4; Matthew 11

Sometimes I think God sends us into the yucky places on purpose. He told Jonah to go to Ninevah–a city with a sinful reputation. He told John the Baptist to go out into the wilderness to make a way for the Messiah. Jesus hung out with sinners. All of these men had a message of repentance: turn away from sin.

Jonah didn’t want to go, didn’t want to do it; and when he did go and do, he had a bad attitude about it.

This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” Jonah 4:1-4, NLT.

John went and preached passionately and people thought he was crazy.

18 For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ Matthew 11:18, NLT.

Jesus met people wherever they were in life, and he was pronounced guilty by association.

19 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results. Matthew 11:19, NLT.

Maybe, like in Jonah’s case, the journey has a two-fold purpose: to accomplish a job for God in the world and inside of us. Ninevah received Jonah’s message: mission accomplished! But instead of rejoicing, Jonah was mad and God dealt with him and his heart issue.

I can’t choose how people will think of me, but I can choose how I respond to a situation. Whether the lesson is for me or for someone else, all I know is there’s no place I’d rather be than where God wants me.

Father God, help me to have a better attitude when I find myself in yucky situations. Thank you for meeting me where I am–loving me so much not to leave me in my sin, but to meet me where I am and help me through it.

Courtney (66books365)

These few chapters speak of so many other issues: leadership, obedience, transformation, perseverance, God’s sovereignty, mercy and love. What did you notice when you read them?

 

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Joel; Matthew 10

…I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy.

Your old men will dream dreams,

and your young men will see visions.

In those days I will pour out my Spirit

even on servants—men and women alike. Joel 2:28-29

…don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:19-20

12shepherdsvoice_niv500x373 Recently, I have been going to my parent’s house for small group. It isn’t a traditional small group where everyone gathers for Bible study; it is a group where people come to seek the voice of God, to quiet the soul and listen for His still, small voice.

There was a time that I believed that God didn’t speak to His people anymore, but I have come to realize that the only reason I can’t always hear what He is saying is because I’m not always listening, with my ears, my eyes, my mind, my heart. Life is SO busy, and it is very easy to get caught up in the day to day that it can be difficult to hear what God is saying to me.

Sometimes I wonder if it really is God’s voice speaking to me, sometimes I wonder, “Could it just be what I am thinking? My imagination?”

A mighty woman of God shared with me her revelation on God’s voice at the beginning of my faith journey. To paraphrase, when you answer the phone, without looking at caller ID, and it is your father, your mother, your sister, brother, friend, etc., you know who it is simply by hearing them speak. You recognized their voices and don’t need them to reveal who they are. It is the same with God. When you first meet Him, you may need introductions, but as you meet with Him more and more, it becomes easier and easier to identify God’s voice and differentiate between the many ‘voices’.

I have learned to pray for discernment when I am not sure of the source of what I am hearing or seeing – a good barometer is whether or not what I am perceiving is from the Lord is that it is encouraging, edifying, and exhorting and that it lines up with the things He has already told me in His Word.

Whenever I position myself to hear from God, I do, and last night was no exception. I want to share what He communicated to me, because I know that it isn’t just for me:


I see a picture of a person in a vast body of water, deep enough that there is no perceivable bottom. I know that this person has been swimming for a while because no land is nearby. The person has stopped – he or she can go no further and can’t go back. Exhausted the person is slowly treading water to conserve energy, understanding that it is only a matter of time before he or she is even able to tread water anymore. Some time has passed and the person begins flailing, a last ditch effort for survival. Out of nowhere a life-saving ring is tossed in front of the person. At first, the person doesn’t even see the floatation device in front of him or her and continues grasping at air in desperation. As I look closer at the floatation device, I see that there is a rope attached to it, but rather than the rope leading to a boat as I would expect, it reaches into the clouds and the other end can’t be seen. I am hearing the words “Life Line”. All the person has to do is realize it’s in front of him or her, ready and available to help…

”I’m here. I’m ALWAYS here – in good times and bad, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer – nothing matters but you – loving you, caring for you, providing for you – the struggles are nothing to Me – they aren’t greater than Me, they can’t defeat Me, they won’t overcome Me, they aren’t ‘too much’ for Me – I love you with and everlasting love, incomprehensible to you, but fully unconditional – reach out, reach out for the life line I’ve thrown you, grab on and hold on tight – I’ll rescue you, I’ll bring you away from the fear, away from the panic, far away from the feeling of defeat. Grab onto Me and hold on tight.

Desperation is no longer yours – you’ll no longer feel like you’re drowning; you’ll no longer be afraid because My life line is yours, grasped tightly in your hand – always there, always rescuing you – hold on tightly to Me – hold on, hold on”…

And then I saw this: CONNEXTION


Yesappa, Thank You for meeting me. Thank You for speaking to me and showing me a piece of Your heart. Allow this word to minister to Your children. Open ears to hear and eyes to see You; and give courage to share what You are speaking. 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 Chronicles 24; 2 Kings 12; Psalm 50; Matthew 9

Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?” Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” Matthew 9:10-13MSG

Wow, this is convicting, because I know how easy it is for me to get comfortable. Or to judge someone when I first meet them. I can keep my heart from being like a Pharisee when I focus on worshiping God and not the sins of others. Because, I know my own brokenness and how much I need Jesus. And how much I am in need of Grace. I pray that I would extend that to others. To reach out and get to know their story. Like Jesus did. I have discovered that it is hard to love someone with a hard heart. But, it can break down walls and cover a multitude of sins.

The God of gods-it’s God!-speaks out, shouts, “Earth!” welcomes the sun in the east. Farewells the disappearing sun in the west. From the dazzle of Zion, God blazes into view. Our God makes his entrance, he’s not shy in His coming. Starbursts of fireworks precede Him..The whole cosmos attests to the fairness of this court, that here God is judge…It’s the praising life that honors me.” Psalm 50: 1-4,23MSG

I am in awe of a God for who is intimate enough to care about the small details of my life, but powerful enough to cause the sun to rise and set every day. Just like when I was reading about the intricacy of human cells with my daughter, I was reminded of this again.

Thank you Father for loving me despite my brokenness. For promising to complete the work that You started in me. Help me to not become complacent and to show others the same love that You have showed me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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II Chronicles 22-23; II Kings 11; Psalm 131; Matthew 8

II Kings 11:20 Then he [the child king] sat on the throne…so all the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet…

II Chronicles 23:21 So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet, for they had slain Athaliah with the sword.

Psalm 131:2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul…like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Matthew 8:23 Then He [Jesus] arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

There is a great hymn with the opening lines: “When peace like a river attendeth my way; when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot I have taught myself to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.” I’ve read that these lines were penned by Horatio Spafford, a Christian man who was a successful lawyer and loving husband and father to a son and four daughters. Within the span of two years, his son died, then the Great Chicago Fire destroyed most of his investments, and a trip meant to bring comfort to his family ended horribly when his four daughters were killed in a collision at sea while traveling with their mother to England.  Spafford reportedly wrote the poem/prayer on his way to his grieving wife. Further reading revealed that Horatio and his wife, Anna, had three more children, one son who died at the age of four from disease, and two daughters who lived to adulthood. Horatio’s religious views were also persecuted to the point of separating from the Presbyterian Church.  He and Anna became philanthropists to the people in Jerusalem, and their work continued by others was said to play a critical role in supporting those communities during and after World War I.

Can we really relate to the tragedy of others?  Do we have the kind of faith that weathers storms that threaten to blow our preconceived notions about the goodness of God right out of the waters? Some days I think I’m doing all right holding onto the peace of God.  Then circumstances cause another walk through the recent tragedy of my own life, retracing those steps to set up an estate account, to move my home again, to pick up her ashes…

Horatio wrote those opening lines as he crossed the same waters where his four daughters drowned. His wife wrote to him on that fateful day, “Saved alone.” Where does this strength come from?  A faith and a peace that is no mere human effort, I think.

For in my own strength, I fall to pieces.  In my Lord’s presence, I am held up.  After 38 years of walking with Christ, I think I am just beginning to be like the weaned child – trusting that He will rise up and command the storms in my life to be still. Fearing not destruction.  Believing the following:

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Peace to us all.

Janet

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2 Kings 9-10; Psalm 49; Matthew 7

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Matthew 7:1-2

Two monks enjoyed each other’s company as they walked the hot and dusty pilgrim trail. When they came to a river crossing their path, they saw poor woman crying and grieving the fact that she was unable to cross the river on her own. One of the monks gathered her up in his arms and carried her across the river. Once on the other side, he put her down, she thanked him, and they went their separate ways.

The other monk had grown silent and looked disturbed. He finally spoke out, “Brother, don’t you know that it is against our laws to touch a woman?” The monk answered, “Brother, I picked her up, carried her across the river and put her down. You are still carrying her.”

And so it is when I sit in judgement of another. Playing judge never suits me well. It always ends up with me weighed down and miserable. I take on burdens that God never intended for me to carry. God alone is the judge.

Gracious God, bless me with the wisdom and humility to be who you have called me to be—no more, no less. Forgive me for when I try to take on roles that belong to you alone. Thank you for your daily grace and mercies. Amen.

Klueh

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2 Kings 7-8; 2 Chronicles 21; Matthew 6

We are just over two weeks into my daughter’s Celiac diagnosis. I’ve spent that time researching the disease, joining online groups, reading (lots of) books from the library, cleaning out our kitchen, and removing foods we can no longer eat. I got a few cookbooks and was looking forward to relearning how to bake–but when I went online to price the cost of gluten-free flours, I was shocked. As much as I wanted to restock our pantry, it wouldn’t happen overnight.

A friend texted me, “”Listen, the verses that talk about not worrying about what we eat, etc. apply here to (this situation) too. It’s a learning curve and very stressful I know but God is going to direct your steps and He cares so much about (her) health and well being.” I wasn’t sure what verses she was talking about specifically, but they had a ring of familiarity to them. I admit, I was worried–especially when I went to get a loaf of bread and it was $8. I didn’t buy it.

One day, a friend showed up with a bag of gluten-free (GF) products for us–brownie and cookie mixes, crackers, pasta. I was completely taken off guard by her thoughtfulness. Another day, another friend showed up with GF energy bars, a dinner mix and a pasta. A few days later, a neighbor gifted us with almond and coconut flours. Another friend showed up during a thunderstorm with GF waffles, a variety of boxed cereals, pastas and tortillas. And even yesterday, I had been at the grocery store to get corn pasta to make a quick dinner with meat sauce, I thought longingly of a garlicky bread that would be perfect with the dinner. I eyed a little GF loaf, at least a third the size of its wheaty cousin, for $7. I didn’t buy it. But later in the afternoon? I received a package in the mail with boxes full of gluten-free muffins, cookies, and two loaves of bread–purchased for us by a loving relative. (I made garlic butter and put it on one of the loaves.)

My husband and I have been repeatedly amazed at the outpouring of love and generosity.

My heart has been for hospitality–spending time with others and feeding them. But under the new diagnosis, I worried about cross-contamination and cost. How would I keep up?

The same friend who texted me early on in this journey sat at my house last week and said, “If God has put it on your heart to offer hospitality, he will provide. Keep doing what he has wired you to do.” I thanked her for reframing my thoughts.

I am not surprised to read verses today on God’s sovereignty and provision.

Elisha replied, “Listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, six quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver, and twelve quarts of barley grain will cost only one piece of silver.”

The officer assisting the king said to the man of God, “That couldn’t happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!”

But Elisha replied, “You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!” Kings 7:1-2, NLT.

And it was so.

And Gehazi was telling the king about the time Elisha had brought a boy back to life. At that very moment, the mother of the boy walked in to make her appeal to the king about her house and land.

“Look, my lord the king!” Gehazi exclaimed. “Here is the woman now, and this is her son—the very one Elisha brought back to life!”

“Is this true?” the king asked her. And she told him the story. So he directed one of his officials to see that everything she had lost was restored to her, including the value of any crops that had been harvested during her absence. Kings 8:5-6, NLT.

Shazam!

And the verses my friend texted me about? Matthew 6–the verses waiting for me this morning.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:25-34, NLT. (Emphasis mine.)

Thank you, God, for your constant reminders that you’ve got this. The whole world. In your hands. Thank you for these scriptures, that I can come to you and you already know.

Courtney (66books365)

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