Monthly Archives: October 2016

Ezekiel 4-6; Psalm 82; John 2

“That’s not what I expected. I’ve been listening to others who have heard Him teach, and their stories of His divine wisdom and hints of rising power have excited me – even ignited hope to my weary soul…worn down with eking out a living under the heavy hand of Roman captors. Yes, I feel like a captive, even though I am not a slave, yet. What a miserable thought – that I might have to sell my body to have some means of caring for my family, paying tithes and purchasing sacrifices, and giving to those who are even more needy and poorer than I. Oh, God, when will You save us? Those were my thoughts that Passover when I brought the few coins that I had saved to purchase an offering and pay the temple tax in the house of God.

As I walked inside the temple, a commotion began at the east corner, a place to avoid when purchasing an offering, though the other vendors are not much better. Dishonest and unjust Ben-Hadad charges exorbitant prices for exchanging Roman denarii for shekels, and his cohorts squeeze every last coin for their pitiful excuses of a sacrificial animal, even selling doves with broken wings and blemished, scrawny sheep.

All of a sudden an explosion of wooden tables crashed all around me and a whirlwind spinning with coins and curses seemed to suck out all the air in the room. Men groped on the floor or pressed against the wall in confusion and desperation. Then His voice, clear and with authority commanded, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’ This must be Jesus!” (Adapted from John’s account of the cleansing of the temple, John 2)

Today some see the temple cleansing story as instruction to churches not to sell pastors’ books, study guides, bible covers, CDs of the weekly sermons, etc. What came to my mind, however, was Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own…” This Scripture is instructing Christians not to use the body for immorality, wickedness, and various sexual sins. We are told we are without excuse because we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to convict us (let alone plenty of fellow believers and non-believers to condemn us). Yet, I wonder if the age-old practice of self-flagellation is just a misguided response to this conviction.  I don’t doubt that many of us feel a sound whipping is in order to cleanse our conscience! How long, though, does it take to forgive oneself and more importantly, what does it take for God’s forgiveness to sink in? I know how wretched a sister or brother in Christ feels to be caught up in sin. Christ still is consumed by zeal for His Father’s house – consumed by His desire to see us cleansed by His blood. But wait! Didn’t Jesus Christ already accomplish that? Are we truly forgiven or do we need to perform some ritual, penance, or sacrifice to cover sin?

I don’t think that is what the Apostle Paul was saying. Rather, what we need is to receive the ongoing regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, working out our salvation day to day in the presence of Almighty God.

Thank You, Jesus, that You are still consumed with zeal for my body, mind, soul, and spirit. Keep me aware of the places within me that need Your cleansing. Cleanse me by Your Holy fire and the washing of Your word. Have Your way with me. Thank You, thank You. Thank You, God for Your mercy!

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Ezekiel 1-3; John 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.  John 1:1-3

This Word of God, this Son of God changes everything. He breathes and life comes to be.

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.”  So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it , and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. Ezekiel 3:1-3

The Word of God speaks into the past, present and future. Ezekiel’s time was war wrought and the people of Israel failed to accept God’s sovereignty and goodness. Even in their defeat, they could not, would not submit their hearts to the One who made them. They refused to acknowledge the Holy One of Israel.

This Word of God stands true. Jesus is who he says he is, the very Son of God. Unbelief on my part doesn’t change reality one bit, nor does others’ acceptance of Him. Global warming, corrupt leaders, wars and natural disasters can’t change the fact of who Jesus is.

And God repeats, “Do not be afraid…do not be afraid…do not be afraid.” Ezekiel 2:6

Jesus, your very Word speaks to me today. You assure me of your sovereignty and goodness no matter what the circumstance. All of creation, all of life is held together by you.  Holy Spirit, strengthen me to live in the truth of who you are. When fear of the opposition threatens to take me under, fill me with your Holy Spirit.  May I live to please you alone. Amen

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Jeremiah 50-51; 2 Peter 3

When the prophets spoke of things to come, who believed them?

The Lord gave Jeremiah the prophet this message concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians.This is what the Lord says:

“Tell the whole world,
    and keep nothing back.
Raise a signal flag
    to tell everyone that Babylon will fall! (Jeremiah 50:1-2a, NLT)

Did listeners sit in their comfort? Did they go about the everyday? When God gave warning to turn from sin, to turn to him–did they not know his power?

Listen, Babylon, for I have set a trap for you.
    You are caught, for you have fought against the Lord. (Jeremiah 50:24, NLT)

He calls armies. He appoints leaders.

“I will come like a lion from the thickets of the Jordan,
    leaping on the sheep in the pasture.
I will chase Babylon from its land,
    and I will appoint the leader of my choice.
For who is like me, and who can challenge me?
    What ruler can oppose my will?” (Jeremiah 50:44, NLT)

What did they think when they heard these things?

People in Peter’s day mocked and scoffed.

Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” (2 Peter 3:3-4, NLT)

Peter reminds:

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9, NLT)

Peter closes:

So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:17-18, NLT)

Every day I make a decision of whose voice to believe. An enemy speaks over me with scoff and mockery. God’s word reminds–do not be afraid. Do not lose your secure footing.

Lord, truly your approval is the only one I need, and your voice the one that speaks truth. You cannot lie. You are creator and Lord of all. Help me continue to grow in grace and knowledge of you. My Savior.

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 47-49; Psalm 80; 2 Peter 2

17Help the man you have chosen.

Make this human being strong for your service.

18Then we will not turn away from you.

Give us life again, and we will call to you for help.

19Lord God of heaven’s armies, take us back.

Show us your kindness so we can be saved. Psalm 80:17-19

God desires me to serve Him. His command to me, above all else, is to love Him with all my heart and soul and mind. But, as hard as I try, I still fail miserably at times.

I believe that God offers second (and third, and fourth…) chances. Because He knows that I am not even close to being perfect, because He can see into my heart and understand everything that is there, He knows the intentions of my heart are to serve Him always.

9And so the Lord knows how to save those who serve him. He will save them when troubles come…2 Peter 2:9

Noah and Lot are examples of men in the Bible who were not perfect (I mean Lot offered his daughters to be raped by lustful men – yikes), but because of their desire to serve God and follow Him, He rescued them from devastation.

The Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites and other tribes were not so lucky. They had no love for God in their heart and served idols who called for death and destruction. Though they were given warnings, they did not turn away from their sin and they reaped what they sowed.

16But a donkey told Balaam that he was sinning. And the donkey is an animal that cannot talk. But the donkey spoke with a man’s voice and stopped the prophet’s crazy thinking. 2 Peter 2:16 

God won’t give up hope for those who turn away. He will constantly pursue anyone whose heart is blackened by sin by any means possible, from the natural consequences of a life lived with bad choices to words straight from a donkey’s mouth.

Just as I pursue my children in the midst of their bad choices, calling them back to obedience and cultivating a repentant heart, my Father in Heaven does the same for me. He gives me life and gives me strength. He shows me kindness that I don’t deserve and saves me from the enemy.

Yesappa, Thank You for being the God of many chances. Thank You for showing me kindness, grace, and mercy in the midst of my bad choices. Give me life where the enemy only wants death. Help me draw nearer to You in each moment to find strength to stand against sin; and give me life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie

 

International Children’s Bible, Copyright © 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Jeremiah 43,44,46; 2 Peter 1

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises…The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.” 2 Peter1:3-5,8&9 NLT

“Have you forgotten the sins of your ancestors, the sins of the kings and queens of Judah, and the sins you and your wives committed in Judah and Jerusalem?” Jeremiah 44:9 NLT

My 11 year old daughter had forgotten a piano sheet that she needed for her piano lesson. I asked her how I could help her remember for next time. I told her that I can be forgetful too and need to write things down. I take notes on my phone, on paper and have bible verses taped to the wall. In hopes that they will soak into my mind and heart. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit helps me to remember. But, I am convicted how little I rely on his power. Because, I know that my tendency is to drift towards earthly comfort and to build my own little kingdom, instead of investing in God’s Kingdom. Sometimes, I am just trying to get through the day. And I miss his voice. Just like Jeremiah and Peter had a message from the Lord, God has spoken through other people in my life. Maybe that is what the Lord is trying to teach me. He is always speaking, I have to be ready to hear.

“Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:20& 21 NLT

Am I listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit?

“Therefore, I will always remind you about these things-even though you already know them and are I standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.” 2 Peter 1:12-15 NLT

Thank you Father for your faithfulness in my life. I praise you for who you are. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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