Monthly Archives: January 2016

Exodus 1-3; Galatians 5

Moses is the walking definition of an outsider. To the Egyptians who took pity upon him as helpless baby, he is Hebrew pet. To the Hebrews, he is the indulged recipient of their master’s capricious favor and viewed with envy and suspicion. The pain of not belonging is palpable; he is a man without a home.

So he flees. He is a refugee attached to a family and people foreign to him. In the dark and lonely “far side of the desert,” Moses comes to the mountain where God speaks and reveals himself. How is it that in our loneliest places, God appears and the course of history changes?

God calls Moses and the people of Israel into a relationship with him:

“I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you:  When you brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Exodus 3:12

For the first time in history, God reveals his Name:

I AM WHO I AM. Exodus 3:14.

And with that, the fate of the people of Israel is sealed. No longer will they be Egyptian slaves. They are a people freed by their God. They are a people “close to his heart.” Psalm 148:14.

Centuries later, Paul speaks of freedom once again,

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Because of God’s great love, because of Christ’s death on the cross, I am no longer a slave. I am no longer a refugee. I have a home. I have a place of belonging and it is near the very heart of God.

Lord,  thank you for the freedom you have bought for me at the cost of your Son. Holy Spirit, help me to walk in this freedom today.  May gratitude and joy rise up from the deepest parts of me.  Father, I ask that my thoughts, words and actions today, somehow make you smile.  Your goodness towards me is overflowing. Amen

klueh

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Genesis 49-50; Galatians 4

Inheritance and legacy, big themes in these chapters. I read of Jacob’s last words to his sons.

I think on (all) these brothers, the men they’ve become.

Reuben, as unruly as a flood, and will be first no longer.

Zebulun, a harbor for ships.

Asher will dine on rich foods and produce foods fit for kings.

“Simeon and Levi are two of a kind;
    their weapons are instruments of violence.
May I never join in their meetings;
    may I never be a party to their plans.
For in their anger they murdered men,
    and they crippled oxen just for sport.
A curse on their anger, for it is fierce;
    a curse on their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will scatter them among the descendants of Jacob;
    I will disperse them throughout Israel. Genesis 49:5-7, NLT

A father knows his sons.

Jacob’s body is laid to rest in the land he designated. The brothers accompany Joseph back to Egypt. The brothers who sold him for dead. 15 But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said. Genesis 50:15, NLT.

These are the words that comfort me today:

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20, NLT.

Words of a son who knows his Father.

I know this truth. I know that God redeems the lost time. I know that God is able to turn someone’s harmful intent into something good. All of it.

I know my Father.

And He knows me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 47-48, Psalm 25, Galatians 3

Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Mannasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” Gen 48:17-20 NKJV

Joseph was upset that his father was blessing his younger child. He tried to move his hand. Maybe he thought that his blind father had made a mistake? But, his father was clear that he was going to bless Joseph’s younger son first. How many times have I tried to control things with my own hands? Jumping ahead of what God has in store? Trying to change how things play out in my life? Instead of surrendering all to my Father, because he knows what is best? This is when I find that my eyes are on myself and not on God and His plans for my life. In these times I find myself in a tangled mess and the only way to get out is to look to Him.

My eyes are ever toward the Lord, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net. Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses!” Psalm 25:15-17 NKJV

Thank you Father for the freedom that I have in You.

But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Gal 3:11, 28-29 NKJV

I want to surrender all to You Lord.

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You…Show me your ways, O Lord; Teach me You r paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation.” Psalms 25:1-5 NKJV

Amy(amyctanner)

from the archives, originally published 1/27/15

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Genesis 45-46; Psalm 108; Galatians 2

Come closer to me,” Joseph said to his brothers. They came closer. “I am Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don’t feel badly, don’t blame yourselves for selling me. God was behind it. God sent me here ahead of you to save lives…He set me in a place as a father to Pharaoh, put me in charge of his personal affairs, and made me ruler of all Egypt.” Gen 45:4-8 MSG.

Reading these passages about Joseph and than Paul, brings to mind the video I watched of Pastor Saeed Abedini.  After being imprisoned for his faith for 3 years, he was landing on American soil. The thing that I was struck by the most was his prayer. He was praising Jesus and worshiping him. Not just for freeing him, but for who He is. I could imagine him praying this same prayer in prison. I truly got the sense that his faith didn’t depend on his circumstances. Like Joseph, he was not angry or bitter. Like Paul, his faith was not swayed.

They trusted in a God who is greater than their earthly pain. Do I?

Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.” Galatians 2:18-21 MSG

I am reminded that God has a greater plan for my life that sometimes  can only happen through suffering. That He is Sovereign. Even when I  cannot  see the good.

My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart!

I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.

Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, Oh God, above the heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth. Now rescue your beloved people. Answer and save us by your power.

Oh, please help us against our enemies, for all human help is useless.

With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes.” Psalm 108 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for these men and their testimony of faith. Even when it hurts, I pray that I would turn to You. Help me to remember that You work all things together for good. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Genesis 43-44, Psalm 24, Galatians 1

How did you come to faith in Christ? Was it a friend who led you to Him? Was it in a church, at a youth retreat, a sweet friend or a spouse that ceased an opportunity to speak the truth to you? I have grown up my entire life in the church. I was saved at the age of 5 and at my own request, baptized at 8 and for my entire life I have struggled with my faith. At times it is strong and unwavering and other times the doubts mount and I fear I have lost faith and will be left behind.

Recently, the Lord made reminded me through some very old and familiar passages that it was never up to me anyway. My salvation and faith was not a logical process that I came to trust in at such an early age. In fact, it doesn’t matter who, what, where, when or how one comes to faith. It is always the Holy Spirit that does the work of faith. I am reminded again this morning after reading Paul’s words in Galatians. Of all people, Paul should have known right from the start that Jesus was the Messiah, but he didn’t. All his knowledge and logic did nothing for his faith. It wasn’t until his eyes were opened by the Lord that could finally believe.

 “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me.” Galatians 1:11-16a

This encourages me in my faith. It’s encouraging because it’s an important lesson that faith and belief in Christ is not earned, studied, wished or willed. It’s a gift given to us by the everlasting God of the universe. I was set apart before I was born and called by grace. What an amazing gift. It leads me to praise my great God. It leads me to want to please Him, praise Him, serve Him and never walk away but yet…. The warning at the start of the passage is alarming. How could one walk away? How could one get confused? How could anyone else promise anything greater then the gift of salvation found in Jesus Christ?

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-7

But yet it happens. All the time, day after day. In small ways and big. The slippery slope, the slow fade. Without a close connection to the word, a deep relationship with the Lord and a guarded heart the path away from the Him happens one step at a time. When I rely on my own works, service, good deeds and even my own faith I become prideful and selfish. I forget the truth of the gospel that Jesus died to give us the gift of salvation. I have nothing to do with it. That’s freeing and brings me to tears.
Lord, help me not lift my soul to what is false or prideful. Give me clean hands and a pure heart to worship you. May I not look to the right or the left but continually seek your face alone. Thank you for revealing to me the gift of salvation you offer through your son, Jesus. Amen.

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Genesis 41-42; Mark 16

Time. It seems to go so slow when I am waiting. I am really not good at waiting.  But of course God knows I am impatient.

“When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream.” Genesis 41:1

In the middle here of Joseph’s story, it’s been two years since he interpreted the dream of the cup-bearer. At this point in the life of Joseph, he is in prison and has been in Egypt for 13 years. Then, finally, it is time for the next chapter for Joseph. We see his situation rapidly change. And through the whole story, it is apparent that Joseph has remained faithful to God.

Usually when I read about Joseph’s life, I see the injustice and hardships. I also note the blessings and the great responsibility he is eventually given. But this time it’s not about the unimaginable lows or the magnificent highs. It’s about the time. Things happen in God’s time.

I know that God has a way better plan than I do. This should make the waiting easier. And I know that God’s timing is infinitely better than my own. Still I find waiting difficult. My family, like any family, has decisions ahead of us – both big and small. But it’s not time to make them yet.

God knows where I am and he knows where he wants me to be. He knows how to get me there. Way deep down inside I do trust that he has a plan. There are times when there is nothing else to do but trust God and wait. Remain faithful and wait. Pray and wait. When the time comes for the next chapter, step forward in faith.

But right now he tells me to wait.

Diona

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Genesis 38-40; Mark 15

Tamar probably felt a bit abandoned–the wife turned widow, twice. When Judah withholds his third son from her, she takes matters into her own hands.

Tamar is accused, but Judah is the one convicted.

26 Judah recognized them immediately and said, “She is more righteous than I am, because I didn’t arrange for her to marry my son Shelah.” And Judah never slept with Tamar again. Genesis 38:26, NLT.

***

Joseph in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

21 But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. Genesis 39:21, NLT.

The Lord stands with Joseph, even when others forget him.

23 Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought. Genesis 40:23, NLT.

***

Jesus is accused.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise. Mark 15:2-5, NLT.

He will be mocked and beaten.

12 Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?”

13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

14 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!” Mark 15:12-14, NLT.

He will be crucified.

He will feel abandoned.

33 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 34 Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Mark 15:33-34, NLT.

But truth will win.

39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39, NLT.

In these scriptures, all of them, doesn’t truth win?

Tamar waited for a husband and an heir. Joseph waited to be remembered and released.

When the stone is rolled and the tomb enclosed, we wait. We wait for God to rise.

Lord, help me to remember that truth wins. Help me to remember that you are with me in the dark places. Help me to remember you have overcome the grave. Thank you that you work all things for good–that you are good. Help me while I wait.

Courtney (66books365)

 

 

 

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