Monthly Archives: August 2015

Isaiah 30-32; 1 Corinthians 5

Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. ~Isaiah 30:18

Too busy to pray. Too busy not to pray.

I feel like the first statement is often true, but the more I walk with Christ, the more I realize the second statement is more true.

As Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Three hours??? Yet, God waits for me to stop and spend that kind of time with Him. When I wonder why the days seem so rushed, so unfulfilled, so unprioritized, so out of balance, so predetermined, I really need to stop and pray. No, I don’t have time to spare, which is exactly why I must.

Otherwise, it’s too easy to try to trust in my own instinct, preparedness, calendars, texts, plans, and decisions. What if I really spent hours in prayer? How much would God cover before I even had to figure it out? Can I make that kind of bold step?

What about those prayers for salvation for lost loved ones? How genuine is my desire for their salvation if I pop their name on the end of an unrelated 15 minute prayer? How much do I really believe God will change them?

He longs to be gracious to us. He wants to answer. He wants to bless beyond all we could ask or imagine. Am I longing for Him? God is justice, but I need to get myself mentally prepared to recognize Him at work, not blinded by all this world has offered or put in place. Sitting at His feet, listening to His Word, watching Him move.

Lots of introspective questions as I read through these passages today. What is the focus of my faith? Does my daily agenda validate that?

Father God, I don’t come to You often enough or long enough, and I repent of that lack of priority in my own life. Please forgive me, and help me to keep removing those unproductive disruptions from my life and spending as much time in Your Word and prayer as I possibly can. Not neglecting the tasks you have for me to do, but first grounding myself so I can do them for Your glory. ~Amen.

 

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Isaiah 26-29; Psalm 65; 1Corinthians 4

After 32 years of married life, too often I assume what Jim is going to say before he is even finished speaking. Israel had the same attitude toward God and Prophet Isaiah. When Isaiah spoke, they heard blah, blah, blah or as he put it, “Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule, a little here, a little there.” Isaiah 28:10

Sometimes I have the same attitude towards God. When I read God’s word and get rolling through the day, I can be dulled by routines and distracted by the immediate. I am rolling my eyes before the conversation has even started. The wonderful thing about my husband is that when I listen…really listen, he says something new.  After 32 years with the man, I am still discovering new reasons why I love him. What is true about Jim is even truer with God. God wants to say new things to me; he longs to breathe new life into a weary, expectant soul:

“Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say…All this comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.” Isaiah 23…29

“Therefor once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” Isaiah 29:14

This is why I try to get to the Word every day. It’s not because I am self disciplined or trying to be a better person; it’s because I am fairly desperate for God to speak to me. God consistently uses his Word to start the day’s conversation. CS Lewis describes my condition in A Severe Mercy, “Think of me as a fellow patient in the same hospital who having been admitted a little earlier could give some advice.”

When God speaks, I fall more in love with him. My world changes, healing comes, beauty fills the dark and empty corners of my soul.  Like marriage, some days I wake up and feel the love and some days, not so much, but I stay married and learn to love. That love transforms.

“Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple. You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and the farthest seas.” Psalm 65:4-5

So if you read this today, do yourself a favor and find your Bible. Read it with hope and expectation, even if just briefly, because God longs to bring us closer to him.

klueh

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Isaiah 23-25; 1 Corinthians 3

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen The Matrix, you’ve had fifteen years to do so. But then, if you’ve waited this long to see it, you likely won’t–and so my brief mention of a scene shouldn’t really affect you.

One of my favorite parts about the movie The Matrix is when Neo dodges the bullets near the end. He sees them coming and moves his body to avoid them, or just plain stops them. He figures it out–he knows it for what it is, and the bullets can no longer hurt him.

Paul writes to a group in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, NLT:

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?

He calls them infants. He says they are still controlled by their sinful nature. He asks, “Aren’t you acting just like people of the world?”

Sometimes I have to take a hard look at myself: when anger, however justified, starts flowing through my veins and following me from room to room and place to place, I have to stop and assess my reality. This weekend, I reminded myself, “I am not angry at my family.” So why was this anger clinging to me when I should have been enjoying time with my people? I said, “I am not angry at my church.” So why was this anger penetrating my heart just before I walked into church to serve? My anger had nothing to do with my family or my church, but it was trying to control me and wreck places of peace.

I can’t know what form an attack will take or who will wield words against me or my family. But how will I respond? Will I be controlled by my sinful nature? Will it hit and hurt and lead to infection? Will it take time to heal? Or will I see it for what it is and dodge or deflect the bullet? I want to stand strong in Christ for things that matter to him.

Lord, please help me to see things for what they are. Help me to honor you with my response and thoughts.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 20-22; 1 Corinthians 2

When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.

Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 1 Corinthians 2:1-7

A friend of mine recently expressed that she felt she was the “least qualified” to minister to someone to receive healing.

Though I completely understand that sentiment, especially when around spiritual power-houses, and often feel like that myself, my immediate reaction was to rise up (inside) and say “that’s not true!”

As humans, we often get ourselves mixed up in the comparison trap – I look at you and instantly see how awesome you are. Then I look at myself, and even though I have some great qualities, I know the deep dark secrets lurking in my heart, and start believing that I will never measure up. I forget that you have some less than perfect things in your life too. I compare the best of you, to the worst of me and then deem that to be truth.

But the truth is that the same wonderful, powerful, glorious Spirit is in all of us who believe in the resurrected power of Jesus. He chose you AND he chose me, regardless of my weaknesses (maybe even because of them).

It doesn’t matter that you may have prayed for thousands of people, that you have witnessed many people healed, that you have been on the {foreign} mission field for most of your adult life, that you are active in your community spreading God’s love to your neighbors, that you care for your children as a stay at home parent, etc.; we are all the most qualified when we say “yes” to God’s call, regardless of what that commission is.

God chooses me, not because I have it all together – because let me tell you before you figure it out on your own – I most certainly don’t. God chooses me because I am the perfect person for the job. I am the most qualified, to touch the heart of that particular person in that particular moment for that particular purpose…and because I am willing. I am perfectly qualified because Christ, living inside me, makes me perfectly qualified.

God isn’t expecting me to be well studied in Theology or have tons of practice in Biblical counseling or have years of ministry experience under my belt. God is expecting me to have a relationship with Him, to “rely on the power of the Holy Spirit”; He is expecting me to trust the simplicity of His Message.

I can’t put trust in my own words or wisdom. I need to fully trust in the power of God so that others will do the same. I need to follow Jesus, modelling His actions as revealed in the Word, so that others can follow Him. I need to be confident in the wisdom of Holy Spirit expecting His Rhema Word to fill my mouth with plain words that will reveal the mystery of God to those who are ready to hear.

Though I do have a “spiritual resume”, the reality is that my only qualification is God in me.

Yesappa, Thank You for choosing me in my weakness to accomplish Your purposes on earth. Thank You for equipping me with everything I need to make me the most qualified for Your call on my life. Help me walk with You, trust You, and rely on Your power for each mission You set my feet toward, so that everyone I encounter recognizes You rather than seeing me. 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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Isaiah 17-19; Psalm 62; 1 Corinthians 1

In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers made. In that day their strong cities will be like the deserted places of the wooded heights and the hilltops…For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge.” Isaiah 17:7-10 ESV

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” I Corinthians 1:26-31 ESV

After hearing about the football legend Frank Gifford’s passing, I watched his wife, Kathy Lee Gifford give a tribute to his life. She spoke about how his life was changed after the two of them visited the Holy Land and saw stones like the ones that David threw at Goliath. They brought home stones as a way to remember how that trip deeply impacted their lives and brought Frank closer to His Savior. When someone would come into their house to see Frank’s trophies, he would show them the stone. She said that each of their kids got a stone for their graduation as a symbol of where they would throw their stone into the world. Kathy Lee asked the question, “Where will you throw your stone?” Her words made me think deeply about my life and legacy. How fleeting this life is. Especially as my kids start a new school year, to keep my perspective on whats important. Maybe it is not them being chosen first or winning trophies for excellence. While I want them to try their best. My prayer is that they stay close to Jesus.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken…for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.” Psalm 62:1-7 ESV

Dear Father, please forgive me when I let the cares of this world cloud out my view of You. I pray that I would reach out to others with the love You have shown me. Help me to stay humble while being a shining light for You. Because my pursuit of You is what is most important. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Isaiah 14-16; Matthew 28

Ezra 1:1-8 The captives of Babylon were taken by Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple.

Captives will be taken captive.  Sounds like a tongue twister or tongue in cheek kind of phrase, if you think about it.  Without God in our lives; we are merely captive souls owned by others through unequally yoked relationships, competitive materialism, and emotionally hijacked situations that prevent us from making rational decisions that net eternal benefits. We often speak of freedom as if the concept is simply a reward for longsuffering. Instead of holding out our hands to be led to freedom in Christ, we struggle to break free of only what we can see. We are captive still.

What will open those clenched fists? Isaiah said freedom begins when the Lord has mercy (Isaiah 14:1, 2 For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob…they will take them captive whose captives they were…”). Why do we need mercy to enter into God’s kingdom? The emphasis here seems to be on the total helplessness man feels when he/she has no other way but to follow Christ. Try as we might, we are unable to earn our freedom or even know how to pursue the idea.

If freedom is my goal; why would I want to be taken captive again? The obvious answer is to be among those chosen in the Lord’s kingdom, and with that calling have the no-holds barred attitude about serving Him here on earth and eternally.  Is there a choice?  I tend to believe there is. We can choose to sacrifice on earth for earthly things or we can pursue the ordained works from the will of God as His captive.

What is in this captivity for me? There are times when I tell myself, I should walk away. I sometimes say what makes the difference?  Captivity indicates that I have little choice but to do what God says. Yet, captivity has not prevented me from falling short of doing what I know to do. For instance, Matthew 28:19  says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” I confess that I have not played a major role in evangelism as this great commission by Christ.

Whether or not I can follow Christ depends mostly on what Christ has done for me. Ephesians 4:8 When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave good gifts to men.” Not only does He call me to be His captive, but He gives me whatever good gifts He knows I need. With these gifts I can choose to seek healthy relationships, befriend the strangers in this world, and witness supernatural results from simple obedience. Being a captive of Christ is to receive mercy, to be given gifts to perform His will, and to enjoy the privilege of freedom.

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Isaiah 11-13; Psalm 118; Matthew 27

Imagine yourself one of the homeless of our Nation’s streets. The dirty, disheveled one passed out on the bench. Your skin looks like leather, your hair is wild, your clothes stained and worn. A coherent thought can’t stay in your head. The search for the next meal and a place to sleep keeps you moving. Addiction and fear are your closest companions. Warm showers and clean clothes are luxuries you crave. Threats to your health and person come from all sides at all times. You can never let your guard down; you can never really rest. Fatigue and anxiety never leave your side.

But then one day that all changes. A wealthy man driving a Masurati invites you to take a ride. He takes you home and the doors are open wide. His place is beautiful and immaculate.  You are invited to soak in his bath. Attendants look to every detail of your care: hair cut, mani-pedi, that broken tooth is finally taken care of. You get a massage and nap for hours in a comfortable bed with freshly scented sheets. A set of clothes tailored specifically for you are delivered to your bedroom door. Your old clothes are gone.

The strangest thing though is that this man appears to delight in your company. He seats you at his table and the finest of food is set before you. Think filet mignon with a truffle sauce and his most expensive bottle of red.

Then he begins to tell you of his intentions. “Now,” you think, “here’s the catch. I should know better. Nothing in this world is free.” But what he tells you, comes as a shock. He is your father and he wants you to come home. He wants to provide for you. It doesn’t matter to him what your past is. There is nothing that you could ever do that would keep him from loving you. What is your answer?

Who is this “man?” He’s not; he is God. He has knows your every thought. And for that matter, you are his idea, his creation. He is the giver of life, the source of your very breath, the beat of your heart. When Jesus died on the Cross and rose from the dead, he did it for you. He is the one who invites you off the dirty streets and into his home. Salvation is offered. What is your answer?

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord is my strength and my song; be has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:2-3

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever…Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. Psalm 118:1…19-21.

Klueh

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