Monthly Archives: August 2017

1 Samuel 7,8; Romans 6; Jeremiah 44; Psalm 20,21

Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” – 1 Samuel 7:3 NRSV

If you are like me, a follower of Jesus, then you and I have answered this question of choice and if I am honest – I have to choose everyday and every day I have to choose Jesus.  For me, if I do not, I find myself being okay with certain weaknesses and falling for certain temptations and then declaring them to be in the realm of grace

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? – Romans 6:1 NRSV

The answer is definitely a big NO! So what is my problem, why do I think it is okay?

But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their wickedness and make no offerings to other gods. – Jeremiah 44:5 NRSV

I find my relationship with God falls into a pattern, a grove, a comfortable “method” or “process” and as busy as I am in adoration, confession, thankfulness, and supplication – I miss the most important part of any relationship – listening.  While I have been busy talking, I forget to listen – how does God want to respond to what I have just said or how does He want to engage Himself into my day?  I do not know and maybe I don’t because in some weird moment of time – I might admit that I do not want to know.

I think you know where this is going – throw in some trouble and what do I do? Yes, I call on God. This is where it get’s tricky – I feel that since I did not spend much quality time with Him that I do not deserve to call on Him.  Wow – so simple to get pushed even further away from God.   But I know this – His grace is sufficient and as my Heavenly Father, He cares.  I can always call out His name and He is there.

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
    The name of the God of Jacob protect you! – Psalm 20:1 NRSV

Lord, if I have to forgive others as much as You have forgiven me, that is a whole lot more than 70 x 7!  How thankful I am for your grace, but more thankful that You never allow the Holy Spirit to leave me – I am convicted of my sin and I find my way back to You.  I bless You for Your faithfulness – thank You for Your protection.  I can always count on You.  I pray that my faithfulness will grow as we grow in our relationship together and that I would rather do the things You would like me to do as opposed to the things I want to do for myself.  Thank You for bringing me into Your space and allowing me to be a part of Your family.

evanlaar

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1 Samuel 5&6; Romans 5; Jeremiah 43; Psalms 19

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5 NLT

I am a person who likes to avoid a disruption of peace, whether it be conflict or trials. But, God has been teaching me that they are a necessity for my growth. I tend to reflect back on “if only” than _______ wouldn’t have happened. But, I am learning that God is using those times to show me that I’m not in control. Before we left for our family beach vacation, my youngest daughter was hit in the eye with a golf club. Her eye is fine, but it left a bruise that took the whole week to go away. After we stopped for lunch on our drive to the beach, my other daughter threw her retainer away in the trash. Which I than spent an hour searching for and never found. I felt like I could breath a sigh of relief once we arrived. Only to start off the next day with a bike ride with my four kids that ended in scrapes and bruises from two of them colliding. God is showing me that I can’t escape trials. He is using them to refine me. He is testing my character and wants to see how I react. When I am in constant communion with him and in His word, I have more patience and his words come out of my mouth. If I am bound by my own fear and mistrust, I can let anxieties overtake me and be quick to snap and yell.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalms 19:14 NLT

Nothing compares to hearing my child pray before bed to heal him and his sister from their cuts and scrapes. Childlike trust. Knowing that God didn’t cause the pain and he is sovereign.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world…The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” Psalms 19:1-8 NLT

But oh, how the ocean’s vastness, compared to my smallness humbles me and puts things into perspective.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good…So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends with God.” Romans 5:6-11 NLT

Father, I pray that I would run to your presence instead of turning away(Jer.43:7). I praise you. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. For pursuing me. I love you. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Samuel 4, Psalm 18, Jeremiah 42, Romans 4

I own a wellness clinic and our main focus is helping people regain and improve their health through weight loss. We use a very specific program and all our coaches are very knowledgeable in that particular protocol. Each and every day we have people walk through our doors desperately wanting a change. Some are referred by friends because they just can’t stand the way they look, others are referred by their doctor who has threatened more medications, increases in insulin or even bariatric surgery as a final resort. When they begin, their desperation is heard loud and clear and their commitment to the program is 100%. On a scale from 1-10 they are an 11. They want it so bad they will do anything we say to improve their health. We hear, “Just tell me what to do and I will do it!” every day.

Fast forward 6 weeks. The crises and emergency is over. Twenty pounds are gone, blood pressure is improved, doctor is happy and friends are noticing. And even though they haven’t met their target weight, something in their mind begins to change.  They start easing up on the strict protocol. They make exceptions and compromises when they are out to dinner with their family and a few bites here are there at the birthday parties. When they return to our office and jump on the scale, they are disappointed. We give advice, review their food journal and find none of the exceptions recorded but we know from the scale that there were at least a few. They say to us, “Really? Just a few bites messed up my results? I don’t believe it!” or make excuses, “You don’t understand. I was out of the house all day and forgot my supplies so I just stopped picked something up at the store that wasn’t on the protocol. It really should have worked the same. The product was comparable” And then the compensation, “I increased my water intake to flush it all out”. They leave the clinic disappointed and confused to try for another week and can’t understand how their minor deviations could have prevented success. The spiral often continues and leads to missed coaching appointments and eventually they throw in the towel.

After their initial crises is over, it is difficult to stay the course and follow what the “expert” recommends. Even though they are still a long way from their goal, once they begin feeling better it becomes much more difficult to follow the rules. Their flesh wants to follow its desire and even the best advice from their coach seems extreme and restrictive even though it is unchanged from when they started.

As people, we find ourselves in crises throughout the pages of scripture and we cry out to the Lord (and his prophets) for help. We are desperate to hear from the Lord. We will do whatever it takes….

“Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us.Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 42: 2-3, 4-6

When the Lord responds, are we willing to do what he says? Are we prepared to sacrifice our own fleshly desires every step of the way to follow him? Sometimes his word feels restrictive and sometimes it just plain doesn’t make sense to us. But we can trust him. Just as our coaches can see what lies ahead for the client’s that deviate repeatedly (no permanent health change) so too was the information the prophet Jeremiah received from the Lord for his people.

Dear Lord, thank you for the reminder that your word to us is not always easy to accept but you are always in it. You are for us, not against us and even the most restrictive or difficult of circumstances is meant to draw closer to you. Help us to hear you clearly and obey immediately, knowing you are in control. Amen.

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1 Samuel 3, Psalm 17, Jeremiah 41, Romans 3

Thankfulness. Gratitude. Awe.

These are my feelings toward God today. Thank you …

To the God who answered a prayer today that I had not yet even voiced, not yet even coherently thought. But I knew it was an answer the moment it entered my head. I was in the middle of a conversation with my boys and God gave me words for them. Words that I had read earlier as I was flipping through Romans to find today’s reading. I knew it was a message that God wanted my fifteen-year old sons to hear right at that time.

To the God who loves my children. He loves them so much that he works through me, a broken sinful mother, to guide them. He gives them situations to grow their character.

To the God who created me to create. I am spending a few days restoring my soul through my craft. I make quilts and the process brings peace and joy to my heart. I tell myself that it is selfish to take time away from my “responsibilities” to do something I enjoy. But I think God may be telling me otherwise. It seems as if God is whispering deep inside me that he wants me to be creative in this way.

To the God of grace, who saved me.

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:21-25

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending Jesus to take the punishment for my sins. I will never comprehend the love that you have for me. I want to be willing to always listen to you. I confess that some days I am more willing than others. Help me to answer your call as Samuel did in today’s reading:

“Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’” 1 Samuel 3:10b

Amen

Diona

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1 Samuel 2; Jeremiah 40; Psalm 15 & 16; Romans 2

There are songs of praise and trust in our readings today.  In 1 Samuel, Hannah sings from her heart about God answering her prayer.

“My heart exults in the Lord; My horn is exulted in the Lord,

    My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies,

    Because I rejoice in Your salvation.

    There is no one holy like the Lord,

    Indeed there is no one besides You.

    Nor is there any rock like our God.” (v.1-2 NASB)

Like Hannah I prayed for children and received them.  There is no greater blessing.

In the 16th Psalms, David declares his trust in the Lord.

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

    You support my lot.

    The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;

    Indeed my heritage is beautiful to me.” (v. 5-6)

Last summer we suffered a job loss.  Right from that first day we sensed God whispering that it was all going to be alright; He’d take care of us.  We just needed to trust.  And two months later exactly, a new job began.

“I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;

    Indeed my mind instructs me in the night.

    I have set the Lord continually before me;

    Because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken.

    Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;

    My flesh also will dwell securely.” (v. 7-9)

We have had health issues come up in our family that have shaken us.  God counsels us when we’re broken and questioning “why.”  His ways are not our ways.

    You will make known to me the path of life;

    In your presence is fullness of joy;

    In your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (v.11)

Ultimately I am slowly learning to take life a day at a time, very challenging for a planner like me.  But I know the joy comes in focusing on God and all He’s given us.

Lord, like Hannah and David, help us to use the trials and the harvests in life as pieces of our testimony.  May others want to know You by knowing what You’ve done for us.

Amen.

~Kellie   (gueston66books)

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1 Samuel 1, Romans 1, Jeremiah 39, Psalms 13, 14

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.   Romans 1:16

Whenever I read this verse, I am struck by Paul’s word choice.  Not ashamed?  Why does Paul feel the need to defend his belief in the gospel?

One reason I gravitate to Paul’s writing is his logical bent.  He took the message of Jesus to the centers of culture, where the greatest minds of the time were located. He spent time speaking to philosophers in Athens.  Now he is writing to believers in the seat of power, Rome.  Paul knew that he needed to appeal to the intellect, as well as the heart, to persuade his audience of the truth of the gospel.  And he didn’t shy away from this.

As someone who naturally favors logic over emotion, I can appreciate Paul’s perspective.  I, too, would associate shame with an inability to logically defend my position.  In fact, I think it is the fear of this shame that drives me to take such a keen interest in defending my faith when the “intellectual elite” try to cut it down.

No subject elicits more intellectual attacks on our faith today than the subject of origins.  Popularly over-simplified as a choice between a “6 day creation account” and “godless evolution”, debate rages on about how the world, and we humans, came to exist.  And curious Christians (including this one), immediately start looking at the theological implications of these alternatives.  Undoubtedly, the interpretation of the Genesis creation account hinges on the answers to these “HOW” questions.   But the even bigger question, the “WHO” question, has been answered:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  Romans 1:18-20

While the details of the mechanics of creation are in hot debate, Paul makes it clear that God is the creator and his creation testifies to his eternal power and divine nature.

Lord,
Thank you that the beauty, majesty, design, and intricacy of your creation testifies so boldly to your existence and your nature.  I pray that the pursuit of the “how” questions draws more people to a saving knowledge of you.

Greg (gmd40187)

 

(Repost from 66 books archives.)

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Ruth 3,4; Acts 28; Jeremiah 38; Psalms 11,12

I’m finishing up listening to an audio version of a book called 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz (not paid or otherwise compensated to mention this book). A friend recommended it at large, and I tucked it away for someday. While I’m not sure how the title came back into my sight line, I can say that several times this year, there have been things I wanted to quit (and things I didn’t want to quit but thought I might have to because this pace is wearing me too thin). I decided to give the book a listening to. In it, Koziarz discusses Ruth.

Today, in Ruth 3 and 4, I read the conclusion of (Ruth’s) story, where her kinsman redeemer marries her, joy is restored, and she is part of royal lineage–and all because she made the choice not to quit. She exhibits strength, loyalty, faith, perseverance, patience, and trust.

And what doesn’t Paul go through in Acts? In this chapter, he’s warming himself by a fire after a shipwreck. He’s bitten by a poisonous snake and survives. After months, he continues on his journey to Rome.

30 For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, 31 boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him. (Acts 28:30-31, NLT)

He persevered too, and not in a roll-with-the-punches sort of way: he boldly proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord. He was resilient and focused.

Jeremiah’s unpopular message made him a traitor to be lowered into a cistern and left for dead. But that wasn’t where his story stopped. Though he couldn’t climb out in his own strength, he was raised out of the cistern because of the petitions of an important court official. Jeremiah’s message didn’t change–surrender or else. A tough job.

15 Jeremiah said, “If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.” (Jeremiah 38:15, NLT)

He didn’t quit.

In the psalms, encouragement still (emphasis mine). Don’t quit.

I trust in the Lord for protection.
So why do you say to me,
    “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!

But the Lord is in his holy Temple;
    the Lord still rules from heaven.
He watches everyone closely,
    examining every person on earth.
The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. (Psalm 11:1, 4-5, NLT)

And

The Lord’s promises are pure,
    like silver refined in a furnace,
    purified seven times over.
Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
    preserving them forever from this lying generation,
even though the wicked strut about,
    and evil is praised throughout the land. (Psalm 12:6-8, NLT)

Maybe one day the things I’m going through won’t seem so big-hairy-scary-heavy. Maybe one day I’ll look back and laugh at what I thought was difficult. In real time, the things are big and heavy and difficult. And yesterday, I was looking to quit.

Thank you, Lord, for all that you are teaching me about who you are and what you can do. Thank you for showing me that character is developed through trials, and perseverance is built one day at a time. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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