Monthly Archives: March 2017

Leviticus 2, 3; John 21; Proverbs 18; Colossians 1

18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others[f] will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers[g] that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (NLT)

I love Peter! There is just something about him that is so relatable.  He has such a love for Jesus, messes up, yet still pursues Him.  Jesus loves him despite everything that has happened.  Peter is the first one out of the boat when Jesus appears to them on the shore after the resurrection.  Even though he denied Christ he didn’t hold back in shame, he ran to greet the man he had walked so closely alongside for three years.  As they are having a meal together, Jesus pulls him aside and has a personal conversation with Peter and gives him a purpose for his life:  Feed his sheep!  He wants Peter to pick up where He left off.  Then Jesus tells him how one day he is going to die in a way that will glorify God.  Peter looks over at John and asks Jesus: “What about him?” He wants to know what will happen to John. The scripture doesn’t say this, but I wonder if it was out of concern for his “brother” that he asked the question.  The two of them had been closer to Jesus than the others during the course of his ministry.  I think Jesus’ answer was to get the focus off of something that was going to happen in the future, and back to what He wanted him to do now.  Of course, their conversation was overheard and the rumors started that John was not going to die.  Proverbs 18:8 warns of this:

 Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart

I can imagine this caused quite the buzz among the other disciples. When we only hear part of a conversation or personalize something someone else has said, it can really dishearten us. Jesus didn’t say that John was not going to die; he was merely stating if that is what was in store for him that was not something that Peter needed to worry about.  Peter was to follow Jesus.  The same can be said for us.  We get ourselves into trouble when we compare our walk with someone else’s or worry about what God is doing in someone else’s life.  We need to keep our focus on Jesus!  We need to follow Him.

Peter was forgiven for denying Jesus. He sat in the presence of Jesus.  He was still used mightily by God to promote the gospel of Jesus to the Gentiles. Not only did he walk with Jesus, he was given His Spirit to continue His work, to feed His sheep.  Colossians 1 says the same about us.  We were once far from God, yet through the death of Christ, we have been reconciled to God.

21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

Paul also spread the message of hope to the Gentiles which has been passed down for generations to reach this time in history. Jesus laid the foundation, then passed the baton to Peter and the other disciples. He called upon Paul to travel all over to spread the Good News. The lives of Peter and Paul both show us that no one is beyond being used for God’s purposes—it doesn’t matter how many times we’ve messed up.  We all have a story of redemption to share.  We have all been sent out to “feed my sheep”.

Thank you, Lord, for revealing the message of redemption. Because of this, I am reconciled to You.  I have Christ living inside of me.  That is something that is beyond my comprehension; all I can do is trust it is so. Thank you that you love me even though I’ve messed up plenty of times.  Help me keep my focus on You, Jesus. I want to follow You.  In your name I pray.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Leviticus 1; John 20; Proverbs 17; Philippians 4

End your quarrel.

Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. Philippians 4:2-3, NLT

Keep joy.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Philippians 4:4-5, NLT

Don’t worry.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7, NLT

Think on good things.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8, NLT

Practice, practice, practice.

Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9, NLT

Hebrews 12:1-3 is an anchoring verse to me. Yet, I can’t tell you how often I find myself being tripped up by sin that entangles. Some wounds are slow to heal. Some thoughts hound and hammer. Worries are wrapped in what-ifs, instead of shattered by prayer and thanksgiving. I have never felt more defeated or downcast as when I loosed my grip on hope–the very circumstance in which I needed to cling to hope tighter. (Oh, like Thomas, show me the wounds; let me touch the scars of your hands.)

Fire tests the purity of silver and gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3, NLT

My heart and mind cannot afford to gaze at doubt. Some thoughts only lead to slowing me down and tripping me up. Lord, thank you for moving so powerfully in my life. Help me to keep these bullet points of truth top of mind.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Exodus 40; John 19; Proverbs 16; Philippians 3

It is so hard to come to terms with the purposes that God has laid before my life and yet those plans He has for me are what makes me the follower of Jesus I am today.  I was anointed for the journey I was about to undertake as a joint heir in the kingdom of God.

Then you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it shall become holy -Exodus 40:9

When will I learn that the power of purpose does not reside in my title, or position?  When will I realize that the purposes of God are being carried out in my life regardless of what others may or may not be thinking?  When will I rest in Jesus because the power all resides in God our heavenly Father?

Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” – John 19:11

The Book of Wisdom sets it pretty straightforward, my purpose lies in committing my work, every day, to the Lord.  He has made everything for its purpose – especially me.

The plans of the mind belong to mortals, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.  All one’s way may be pure in one’s own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.  Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.  The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. – Proverbs 16:1-4

Every once in a while when I am in a room and people are asked to share where they graduated from, I find myself in a bit of a pickle – I never graduated.

Imagine how I felt today reading Paul’s thoughts on his own education and then defining what real purpose was all about.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.  More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ,[e] the righteousness from God based on faith.  I want to know Christ[f] and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death. – Philippians 3:7-10

Lord, in those moments when I feel so inadequate, without purpose and value, thank you for drawing me into You.  You are my everything and whatever You have me to do, may my life be one of anointing, may my life be one marked with holiness.  May I be the vessel You choose to use. Thank you so much.

evanlaar

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Exodus 39; John 18; Proverbs 15; Philippians 2

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.” Proverbs 15:33 NLT

Just when I think that I’m being humble, God shows me the humility of Jesus. And I realize that I have so far to go. My selfishness creeps in and my humility turns to pride. I start to think about all the things I have to give up, instead of everything I don’t deserve. My pride keeps me from loving people like Jesus did. I am thankful that he is still refining me in this area. Without him, where would I be?

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.” Philippians 2:14-16 NLT

My 9 yr old son was telling me that a friend at school tells him all the tings that she is better at.   I told him that his friend was trying to make him look bad, so that she looks better. These lessons are usually for myself too. I can hear God prodding on my heart saying, “Where is your security?” Is it in myself or Jesus? My pastor spoke about encouragement. When my focus is on myself, it is hard to encourage others. How quickly I can get discouraged. But, when I am in his word and prayer, he fills me up. And gives me the power to speak life into someone else.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on the cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and earth and under the earth. And every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.” Philippians 2:1-11 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice. Dying on the cross for my sins. Forgive me for when I forget how much you have done in my life. I can lose sight of that so easily. I feel small compared to your vastness, but thank you that you care about the smallest details of my life. I pray that I would remember your goodness. That everything I have comes from you. And apart from you, I can do nothing. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Exodus 38, Proverbs 14, John 17, Philippians 1

I have a friend, William who has been incarcerated for 12 years. He was wrongly accused of a terrible crime and sentenced to 20 years without parole. One would think he had murdered someone or burned down a house but it was nothing even close. This friend of mine has been in prison since 2004 and watched his daughter grow up through letters, pictures and occasional supervised visits. About a year before he found out about the charges (the incident had occurred years prior), William came to faith in the Lord and was excited to live a live centered and focused on Jesus. He became involved in our church, was a hard worker and would lend a hand to anyone in need.

Though my friend wasn’t imprisoned because of his faith, he has a thing or two in common with Paul who was unjustly accused. To be honest, our family worried quite a lot about William’s faith when this initially happened for two reasons. First, he was a new believer and second, he was being imprisoned in Mississippi so visitation and support from his newly found church family would be impossible.

But each and every time I read Paul’s letters to the churches I am reminded of William because William surprised us all! Instead of shrinking back, giving up and throwing in the faith towel, William pursued Christ with the little resources he was given in prison. His faith is put to the test each and every day from knowing he is unjustly serving a harsh sentence and missing his daughter to being bullied by others around him who don’t want to hear his “preachin”. And William would never admit it because he is too modest but he is changing the minds and hearts of those around him. There have been prison guards who act differently today then they did before. There are family members and friends who look at his example of faith and ask William how? William has opportunities each and everyday that most of us never will and instead of being angry and unfruitful, he listens to the Holy Spirit and speaks when he is prompted. There are still very tough days for him. But his faith and perseverance inspire m

12 I want you to know, brothers,[e] that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard[f] and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word[g] without fear. Philippians 1:12-14 ESV

There are times our family talks with William and he encourages our spirits and other times we encourage him. He has truly learned to be brought high and down low. He has a purpose and a calling he wouldn’t wish on anyone else but knows he is right where the Lord wants him.

Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. Philippians 1:19-22 ESV

 

I have not seen William in 12 years but we have written back and forth hundreds of times and have speak on the phone several times per month. We are continuing to pray for his early release and that the governor would pardon his sentence. We are praising the Lord together that he is God’s messenger in a very dark place that is in need of the Light.

Dear Lord, thank you that you who began a good work in each one of us (including Williams) will be faithful to complete it! Even when our circumstances appear differently than we hoped or dreamed, you are loving, faithful and merciful. Strengthen each one of us to do your will and avance your kingdom through your sweet gospel message! Amen.

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