Monthly Archives: August 2018

2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 17; Psalm 66; I Corinthians 7

Live as You Are Called

17 Only let each person lead the life[c] that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant[d] when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers,[e] in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. 1 Corinthians 7 ESV

Sometimes I strive against the constraints of my circumstances. Sometimes, I want desperately to change them. But the Lord has assigned a life to me. And it is entirely in Him, that the shape, trajectory, and horizon of that life is held. I need to learn to stop striving. Cease. Remain with God.

I need to treasure my freedom as a bondservant of Christ. I pray I be at peace in the circumstances I continually find myself.

66 Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
    sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.” Psalm 66 ESV

The earth worships the Lord. Creation sings. I feel; I hear the song… when I let myself pause. And my whole self sighs; I shrug cares away… everything is singing  His Name. Whether I recognize it; whether I am in tune with it; whether I am present enough to sing, too. It matters not. “All the earth worships You….”

Ahaz’s Idolatry

22 In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the Lord—this same King Ahaz. 23 For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel.  2 Chronicles 28 ESV emphasis mine

Times of distress come upon us all. Which way will I run? Into the arms of the Lord? Or into faithlessness? Scripture warns. Faithlessness and pursuit of false gods….leads to the ruin of all. Death, destruction, despair, darkness. 2 Chronicles 28 and 2 Kings 17 illustrate this clearly. 

Lord, help me live for You. I need a fresh infusion of grace and the life-giving conviction that flows from Your Spirit. Help me not run to false gods when I am in distress, but instead run to You. I pray You help my life sing praises to You.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Isaiah 33-35; 1 Corinthians 6

He puts a song in my head, and the words crowd out the worry and hurt. I don’t always know all the lyrics, but when my heart starts to sing, my entire body follows–I walk taller; I look forward; my face softens; I smile.

I read first of Assyria and the betrayal and destruction. And later within the reading–hope.

And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
    It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
    It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways;
    fools will never walk there.
Lions will not lurk along its course,
    nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers.
    Only the redeemed will walk on it.
10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
    They will enter Jerusalem singing,
    crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
    and they will be filled with joy and gladness. (Isaiah 35:8-10, NLT)

The song catches my attention–after passages of betrayal, destruction, mourning, this song sings out, “Honor!”

In New Testament reading, Paul corrects his audience sternly:

If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues? But instead, one believer sues another—right in front of unbelievers!

Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers.

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. (1 Corinthians 6:4-9, NLT)

Honor God. Honor others. Honor unity of the body of Christ.

Paul speaks against sexual sin, to honor God with the body.

19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NLT)

I think long on honor.

Father God, would my thoughts show I belong to you? Would my actions declare I am yours? Stresses, conflict, loss, betrayal, they all (viciously) distract me along the journey, trying to consume my focus, but you bring me back to you with song and joy. Lord, help me to honor you with my whole being, my whole heart, my whole life.

Though the Lord is very great and lives in heaven,
    he will make Jerusalem his home of justice and righteousness.
In that day he will be your sure foundation,
    providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.
    The fear of the Lord will be your treasure. (Isaiah 33:5-6, NLT)

 

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 30-32; 1 Corinthians 5

Why do I put myself in situations where I find my protection and safety coming from other sources and not from God? I say that I put myself in those situations because lately I am learning to walk out of them and put myself into the hands of God.  It has taken a long time to trust God completely, even in the midst of His reassurance and love.  Sometimes I look back and see myself rejecting God, and saying – no I have this one.

“You trust Egypt for protection. So you refuse my advice and send messengers to Egypt to beg their king for help. But Egypt can’t protect you, and to trust that nation is useless and foolish.”  The holy Lord God of Israel had told all of you, “I will keep you safe if you turn back to me and calm down. I will make you strong if you quietly trust me.” Then you stubbornly said, “No! We will safely escape on speedy horses.” – Isaiah 30:2,5,15,16

This is especially important to me this week as I just learned of another strong Christian leader, a friend of mine, in the church, fall to adultery.  I bless the Lord for his willingness to come under the leadership for reconciliation.  Could that have been me while I am rejecting His protection and promise of safety?  How could I protect myself or keep myself safe?  Without God, impossible.

 I have heard terrible things about some of you. In fact, you are behaving worse than the Gentiles. A man is even sleeping with his own stepmother. – 1 Corinthians 5:1

When I think of the Lord’s care and His offer of keeping me safe, what am I thinking about?  He is offering me a place of safety, a place where gossip cannot reach me, a place of refreshment when I have nothing left to give. How could I refuse such a place to be in relationship with Him?

A king and his leaders
will rule with justice.
They will be a place of safety
from stormy winds,
a stream in the desert,
and a rock that gives shade
from the heat of the sun.
Then everyone who has eyes
will open them and see,
and those who have ears
will pay attention.
All who are impatient
will take time to think;
everyone who stutters
will talk clearly. – Isaiah 32:2-4

Lord, look at me! I am finally coming to a place of humility in my walk with You.  I am giving up more of myself each day and You are filling in my emptiness.  The blessings are incredible – why do I and so many others refuse You?  Help me Lord, I need Your kindness and Your patience as You work in my life.  I need You to offer the same blessings to my friend who has known all along he was sidestepping You – I am glad he was caught.  If I am caught by anyone doing anything, may I be like Daniel – found praying morning, noon and night.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Isaiah 26-29; Psalms 65; 1 Corinthians 4

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all those whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is an eternal Rock.” Isaiah 26:3&4 NLT

I am praying this verse for my 10 year old son who is having dental surgery this morning.  He has been learning to conquer his fears and do things afraid.  What an example it has been for me. When anxiety comes, God wants to show me that he is bigger.  He tells me to take the focus off of me and put it on him.  To remember all that he has done.  To quiet my heart before him.

“God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here.  This is a place of quiet rest.”  But they would not listen.  Isaiah 28:12a NLT

It can be hard to be quiet.  I wrestle with unexpected thoughts bombarding my mind.  I don’t always want to face what I am feeling.  It is easier to pretend it’s not there.  But, I am learning to cry out to him in the midst of my struggles… knowing that he will meet me.

“Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.  In the night I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek you.”  Isaiah 26:8&9 NLT

It takes obedience to turn my thoughts towards him.  The truth is that my human nature wants to do things on my own.  To act like I am in control.  When I finally relinquish and give that up to God, he fills me with an unexplainable peace.   I recall his past faithfulness.  I am filled with a joy that only he can provide.  I wonder why I wait so long.  And instead endure days of worrying or trouble getting to sleep.  I am so much better rested when I read his word at night.  And wake up to hear his voice in the morning.

“You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. You formed the mountains by your power and armed yourself with mighty strength. You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations. Those who love at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy.” Psalms 65:1-8 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your patience with me.  That you care about the smallest details of my life.  I lift my eyes to you.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I want to live by your power.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit who guides me. Amen.

“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 4:20 NLT

amy(amyctanner)

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Isaiah 23-25; 1 Corinthians 3

Today we can reflect on our contribution to the churches we all love and support. What are you doing with your life to build the ministry of your local church? Please read 1 Corinthians 3:

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3 [ESV]).

First we are to support one another and not be divisive in the local church. Are you supporting your leaders praying for them regularly and those you serve with?

Second are doing good work in the church that will only be purified by fire when we meet Jesus? Or are our works so full of wood, hay and stubble that we will smell like smoke when we enter His presence?

Third, do you know where your place is in the local church? You find that out through discovering how the Holy Spirit has gifted you. Some of us are teachers others administrators. Some are craftsman(women) and others exporters. Be who God has created you to be. Don’t try to be someone else.

In Philippians 4 the Apostle Paul calls out two women Euodia and Syntyche. They were arguing and it had broken out in the church. Extra biblical documents show that the church in Philippi was still arguing with itself 100 years later long after Euodia and Syntyche were gone. Don’t be a part of establishing that kind of pattern in your church.

I have friends who said that when the church in Ukraine had to make a decision — do we register with the government or don’t we — many broke into tears as they realized their church was being split down the middle. And today even with 26 years of religious freedoms those churches still remain separate. What a loss.

Let’s be the people that do good works in our local churches that last through all eternity and let’s not do anything to destroy our unity in the gospel.

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Isaiah 20-22; 1 Corinthians 2

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul reminds the Corinthians of how he preached the gospel to them.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 1 Corinthians 2:1 ESV

Paul didn’t use the standard Greek method of communicating ideas : complex rhetorical speeches and appeals. Instead, he decided to focus on Christ and the cross, guiding the people to trust in Christ rather than the wisdom of man.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 1 Corinthians 2:6-7 ESV

Back when Adam and Eve first sinned, God decreed that a Savior would be born that would crush Satan’s head. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection make it possible for me to draw near to God.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Chronicles 2:12-13, 16

Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus to save me from my sins. Please help me understand Your word and draw me closer to You. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Isaiah 17-19; Psalm 62; 1 Corinthians 1

I’m learning to be quiet. To wait quietly. Sometimes under the stress of a circumstance, the thoughts torment and wound again, and I want to turn to someone and tell them–as if it lessens the pain, or heals the wound (it does not). The validation of being understood is only temporary.

These past few months I’ve set aside a special time to exercise every day. At first, it presented new and uninterrupted opportunity to replay hurtful conversations and worry. But God got through to me–he put songs in my mind, and soon I learned to hear the song around me. While I have been at work training physically, he has been at work training me emotionally and spiritually.

Psalm 62 has come to my attention in the past to remind me of God’s sovereignty. It is a sweet and special comfort today as I think back on this journey of learning to quiet myself before him.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
    He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
    Pour out your heart to him,
    for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:5-8, NLT)

Lord, thank you for loving me so deeply. Thank you for teaching me how to quiet myself before you. Thank you for your presence each day and for not tiring of hearing my broken heart, but instead teaching me to praise you and delight in you. I am so grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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