Monthly Archives: April 2016

1 Samuel 3-5; Psalm 23; Acts 6

1The boy Samuel served the Lord under Eli. In those days the Lord did not speak directly to people very often. There were very few visions.

2Eli’s eyes were so weak he was almost blind. One night he was lying in bed. 3Samuel was also in bed in the Lord’s Holy Tent. The Ark of the Covenant was in the Holy Tent. God’s lamp was still burning.

4Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “I am here!” 5He ran to Eli and said, “I am here. You called me.”

But Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” So Samuel went back to bed.

6The Lord called again, “Samuel!”

Samuel again went to Eli and said, “I am here. You called me.”

Again Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.”

7Samuel did not yet know the Lord. The Lord had not spoken directly to him yet.

8The Lord called Samuel for the third time. Samuel got up and went to Eli. He said, “I am here. You called me.”

Then Eli realized the Lord was calling the boy. 9So he told Samuel, “Go to bed. If he calls you again, say, ‘Speak, Lord. I am your servant, and I am listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in bed.

10The Lord came and stood there. He called as he had before. He said, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel said, “Speak, Lord. I am your servant, and I am listening.” 1 Samuel 3:1-10

How do I hear God’s voice?

I think at times I hoped for the deep, imposing Charlton Heston-voiced God from the Moses movie – something recognizable as a supreme being. I’ve never heard that voice.

The voice that I hear, sounds more like my own voice, echoing in the chambers of my mind and my heart. I know it’s not me because the words spoken are much kinder and more loving, inspired and not exhausted. The voice of God, still, quiet, and yet with full authority, meets me exactly where I am in any given moment, in a way that I am able to understand, in a way that is relevant, relatable, authentic. Whether resonating through the words of the Bible, a worship song, the encouragement of a friend, or the urging of Holy Spirit, everything that is spoken is borne of truth and brings light into the darkness.

I know that it’s God the same way I know that it’s my husband, my mom, my sister, my friend…when they call me on the phone and the way I know which one of my kids is yelling for me from the other room. I recognize His voice. When I meet someone new, I won’t know her voice if she calls me; she would have to introduce herself on the phone. But as I get to know her, I’ll hear her voice and I’ll know who is calling without needing an introduction. It may take some time, but my brain will make the connections, just as my heart recognizes the connection to my Creator.

Sometimes I go through seasons where I feel like I don’t hear much of His voice. Life is too loud around me and I struggle to quiet my spirit enough to discern God’s voice through the cacophony of running to and fro, children bickering and screaming their “Mommy! Mommy!”, never-ending to-do lists, piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and on and on. It’s difficult to find chunks of silence on any given day and at most I may only find a moment here or there.

I am learning that when I “can’t” hear His voice, it’s time be intentional, to ask Him. It’s a chance to purposely set aside a few, fleeting minutes to ask, “What do You want to tell me? What do You have to say?” And, then stop talking, and listen.

Yesappa, open my ears to hear, quiet my spirit to listen. Amen.

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

1 Samuel 1-2; Psalm 120; Acts 5

Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you.” 1 Samuel 1:10 NLT

I can relate to Hannah’s desire to have a child. After having two miscarriages we had a healthy baby boy. I remember making dinner the night before my sonogram. Praying for good results, while listening to the song, More than Enough. I desperately wanted everything to be fine, but I was claiming to myself that no matter what happened…Jesus was more than enough. And he would carry me through, like he already had.

I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Then Hannah prayed: “My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me. No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God…He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, placing them in seats of honor. For all the earth is the Lord’s, and he has set the world in order.” 1 Samuel 1-2 NLT

As I think back, I am grateful for his hand in the trials in my life. This song, “All of have in you, is more than enough,” still rings true today. “You are my supply, my breath of life.” Sometimes my prayers were for a changed heart. Maybe God was using them to change mine. To show me that my helper, the Holy Spirit was with me all along. Helping me to remember his faithfulness, when I would forget. Guiding me what to pray, when I couldn’t pray anymore.

But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than human authority. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging on the cross. Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.” Acts 5:29-32 NLT

Father, I pray the I would continue to let your Holy Spirit work in me. I pray that I wouldn’t be held back by fear or doubt. Thank you for your faithfulness in my life. Amen.

I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.” Psalm 120:1 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Ruth 3-4, Psalm 37, Acts 4

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.” Acts 4:12-16

 

Two Wednesdays ago I finally stood on a stage and gave my testimony. It was two and a half years in the making. It wasn’t my testimony of coming to faith but of what the Lord had done in my life. I knew the day would come. I knew the Lord was calling me to speak up but there was something holding me back. This past September I had written my name down on a list putting my offer out there to share but I still didn’t write anything down. In January of this year, I received the call to take me up on my offer. The voice on the other line gave me the details: 8-10 minutes on March 30th. I even thought to myself, “Wow, Lord! I have another two months to get this written down. What a blessing.”

On March 20th, I finally sat down to write my story. Why was I putting it off so much? Why couldn’t I sit down and put to paper the story God had given me? I knew he had been calling me to do this for months but I was hesitant, disobedient, fearful.

Would I do the story justice?

Would I communicate in a way that people would clearly see this was God’s story?

Would I remember all the important details of His story?

Would he give me the words to say?

Would people see Jesus in my story?

Would they believe it?

When the story is so big there are often doubters. Nay-sayers who chalk your experience up to coincidence. They hear and don’t believe. I have heard it in the past, “Oh, you were so lucky.” Or “Wow the doctors really put you back together.” Each time I hear those words I long for them to clearly see the truth! I was hesitant to write and share my story because of the reaction I may or may not receive. But I am not responsible for the reaction, I am responsible to respond in obedience when he calls.

So on March 20th, I prayed for help and began putting to paper the story God had been writing. As I typed, the words flowed freely and the story came together. I knew the Lord was writing the words on the page when I looked down and saw 10,000 words in just a couple of hours!

I shared my story at my weekly bible study meeting with about 250 people.  I was prepared, excited and nervous but as I stepped onto the stage my jitters were gone. I had peace and confidence, and a boldness in my voice and in my heart I knew wasn’t of me. I was reminded that when the Holy Spirit moves, none can deny it. It is up to Him to change hearts and open eyes and ears. I will continue to write and share as long as the Lord gives me opportunities.

 

Sweet Lord, thank you for the opportunity to share what you have done in my life. Holy Spirit, thank you for the power and the boldness to speak clearly without fear. And now, Lord, grant your servant to continue to speak your work with all boldness through the name of your Holy Servant, Jesus.

Side Note: Psalm 37 was texted to me on the morning of one of my follow up appointments at shock trauma. I love how the Lord weaves His story and plans our steps.

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Ruth 1-2; Acts 3

My day started with “Good Morning America.”  I was tired and in my tiredness I gave in to temptation … the temptation to turn from God rather than turn to God.  This was supposed to be my quiet time, my 30-60 minutes in the morning that I spend with God studying the Bible, praying and meditating on Him.

I am not saying that watching “Good Morning America” is bad.  The problem for me is that today I chose to spend the time set aside for God in another way.  Today I really needed that time with God.

God whispered something into my heart later in the day.  It was just an impression, a thought, that I would have rested well had I spent my morning quiet time with Him.

Then He sent me a verse:

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus.” (Acts 3:19-20)

Some scholars believe that the time of refreshing referred to here will occur when Christ returns.  While I am not a fan of pulling a verse out of context, I think that God was tapping me on the shoulder.  I do believe that God provides refreshment through the Holy Spirit to His beloved children in this age. This verse reminds me to turn to Him for true refreshment.

I know, and yet I forget, that I find rest in His presence.  I am refreshed by connecting with Him.

Thank you Lord, for your loving reminders that You are what is best for me.  You refresh my heart.  You provide a restful place for my soul.   

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Judges 19-21; Acts 2

Now in those days Israel had no king. Judges 19:1a, NLT.

Community is my word for the year this year, and it stood out in these chapters, but not on the first pass. This reading left a series of impressions on leadership, sin, warfare, division, fighting, and loss–even in victory.

Eleven Israelite tribes unite against the tribe of Benjamin. They consult the Lord for direction.

22 But the Israelites encouraged each other and took their positions again at the same place they had fought the previous day. 23 For they had gone up to Bethel and wept in the presence of the Lord until evening. They had asked the Lord, “Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again?

And the Lord had said, “Go out and fight against them.” Judges 20:22-23, NLT.

And while victory was eventually theirs, they still felt a great sting–not only were thousands of lives lost in these battles, but they also recognized the potential impact of losing one of the twelve tribes.

25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. Judges 21:25, NLT.

People will follow something: a good leader, a bad leader, or their own passions.

The apostles preach the saving Gospel and many lives are changed. The Holy Spirit inhabits hearts.

37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Acts 2:37-39, NLT.

Community.

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47, NLT.

In the Old Testament, a community rallied within the tribe of Benjamin to support the sinful deeds of a few, while a larger community (the other eleven tribes) fought for justice and the integrity of the whole. In the New Testament, believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to sharing meals together, and to prayer.

These scriptures give me lots to think on regarding influence, leadership, and community.

Lord, I want your Holy Spirit to be my influence and leadership. I thank you for revealing a healthy view of community, and for bringing other believers into my life who share the same vision. I want to live in the awe of who you are and to experience life with you. I praise you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 17-18; Psalm 21; Acts 1

The book of Acts is a history of how the Church began. It is full of the key players and activities, the Acts of the Apostles, as the book was once called.  Jesus has appeared to them and told them not to leave Jerusalem until they receive “the gift my father promised”.   After Jesus Ascension, the disciples head back to the upper room in Jerusalem where they were staying.

15-17 During this time, Peter stood up in the company—there were about 120 of them in the room at the time—and said, “Friends, long ago the Holy Spirit spoke through David regarding Judas, who became the guide to those who arrested Jesus. That Scripture had to be fulfilled, and now has been. Judas was one of us and had his assigned place in this ministry. (MSG)

Several thoughts came to my mind as I read these verses. I was reminded of a post I wrote earlier this year about Peter and his denial of Christ.  Having been restored by Jesus and told to “feed my sheep”, here he is– stepping up and taking charge.  His leadership role in the founding of the church had begun.   There was no longer any question in the disciple’s mind about his purpose.

The other thought I had was that while Jesus was with them, they did not understand the prophecies about Him that were being fulfilled.  Yet here Peter is, quoting scripture that had to do with Judas. After Jesus resurrection, He appeared to the men walking to Emmaus.  There is a passage, Luke 24:27, where Jesus explains to them “beginning with Moses, and all the Prophets, . . . what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” I can imagine this conversation going through the city like wildfire and was surely shared among the “120 of them” in the room.  It was like the final piece in the puzzle fell into place and the picture was crystal clear (or I have a very dear friend who always calls them V-8 bops to the head).  Peter and the others knew without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.  That verse from Psalms about Judas may have been one that Jesus shared as He walked along the road telling His story.

The chapter ends with them casting lots to see who would take Judas place—it had to be someone who had been with them ever since the beginning and there were two that met that requirement. Casting lots was the method they used to hear from God so they would know His choice.  In my bible commentary, I thought it was interesting that it said this is the last time that casting lots is mentioned in the bible.  I wonder if that is because in the very next chapter of Acts, the Holy Spirit enters them and God would now speak to them through the third Person of the Trinity instead? And so the new covenant begins!

Heavenly Father: I am so grateful to be on this side of the cross.  Even though we know the whole story now for your plan of redemption, sometimes we don’t understand or see what is right in front of us either.  Thank you for the Holy Spirit that speaks to us and reveals great truths about You.  In Jesus precious name, AMEN

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=holy+spirit+francesca+battistelli

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Judges 12-16; Psalm 146; Luke 24

Why aren’t Jesus’ words enough for us to truly believe in Him with all our heart?

During a recent conversation with a friend of mine, I recall saying the words “oh ye of little faith…” out loud after being challenged that I would do what I said I would do. I mean, after all… this person knows me and that when I say something, I follow through in action. Why then, when it came down to believing my words, did word and action, in their mind, not match?

Fast forward to today’s reading in Luke 24… Jesus is being doubted! This, after foretelling His own death, resurrection, and life after death. And this wasn’t the first time… in Matthew 8:26, we read of the mismatch between Jesus’ words and the disciples faith, even after the disciples just witnessed Jesus feeding 5000 men! I can imagine Jesus smiling and thinking ‘Really?? You *still* have a hard time believing who I say I am?? What do I have to do???”

Jesus must have an amazing sense of humor! Anyone who doubts this simply needs to read the progression of events in Luke 24. The reading is almost comical, in wondrous, miraculous way. In the reading, at the lowest point possible for two of Jesus’ followers who were devastated over His death, they were confused about the previous days’ events at the crucifixion, clueless about Jesus’ identity as the Messiah, and oblivious when He joined them on the road to Emmaus. So Jesus set them straight and finally the light came on in their minds… of COURSE! How could we have missed this… all the signs were there! Even our hearts burned in His presence… Jesus, the Messiah!

And the story builds… picture Jesus next appearing to a group of disciples. He showed up out of nowhere, so naturally they were shocked and I’m sure scared. Even after seeing the scars in His hands and feet, they stood there… rooted to the floor in surprise! So Jesus continues to His next order of business… food! Sharing a meal with the men He did life with up until the time of His death.

I can imagine the look on Jesus’ face in response to the disciples expressions! Then, someone, who was likely speechless, came up with a fish for Jesus. I can imagine Jesus smiling at the disciples as He enjoyed His first good meal that we read about since His resurrection.

Jesus appeared to take great delight in His time with the disciples. After their adjustment period of realizing Jesus was back, perhaps they, too, chuckled with Him over their initial reaction. We don’t know, but we do know through this passage that Jesus affected people.

From burning hearts to surprised disbelief to utter shock, people react to Jesus. Jesus didn’t leave anyone unchanged by His presence then, and He doesn’t leave anyone unchanged by His presence today to those who find surprise and delight when we meet Him where we are!

So… what do you really believe in this man we call Jesus Christ? Do you believe He is who He says He is?

Jesus… please be patient with us and help us to connect what is in our minds with what is in our hearts over who You have been, are, and continue to be! Continue to prepare us for the new adventure knowing You has in store for us… Surprise us with a fresh awareness of You and all that You are! Amen!

gstefanelli (Greg Stefanelli)

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