Monthly Archives: October 2018

Ezekiel 22-24; Psalms 134; John 8

Today’s readings are full of phrases that let us know the Lord is God.  To Ezekiel:

“On that day your mouth will be opened to the fugitive, and you shall speak and be no longer mute.  So you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 24:27 ESV)

To the Pharisees:

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV)

To the Jews:

“So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” (John 8:36 ESV)

Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51 ESV)

Aren’t we blessed that we know the truth and it has set us free?

“Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!  May the Lord bless you from Zion, who made heaven and earth!” (Psalms 134 ESV)

Amen, Kellie

 

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Ezekiel 19-21; Psalm 84; John 7

33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” (John 7:33-34) NIV

I read those words this time and as I thought about them I felt my Spirit quicken. For a split second I had the fear of those words being true. What if Jesus couldn’t be found? What if I looked for Him and He wasn’t there? My Spirit quickened to remind me Jesus was not talking to me. I can rest safely in the knowledge that He is with me always (Math 28:20). He has also assured us we will be with Him in His Father’s house (John 14:2-3). Over the years, He has become the one dependable constant in my life. The thought of not finding Him—well it is beyond anything I can fathom.

He was talking to the Pharisees. They were the religious men of that time, the rulers in the synagogue. They were not happy with Jesus and his teachings. He shook up their world. Their nice, neat, orderly world as they knew it was being threatened by God’s Word Himself! They had to silence him at all costs. They had their beliefs and they weren’t about to change. They couldn’t accept the radical change of Grace! They were unwilling to accept He was who He said He was.

At times we cling to our false beliefs like a life jacket on a person lost at sea. Instead of grabbing Jesus’ hand and trusting him for truth and our safety, we prefer to stay lost. We ask ourselves questions like: “What might I have to give up to change? Who might I have to give up to change?” Those are scary thoughts.

I had my world shaken when everything I believed turned out to be lies. The worldly view of life I had lived so long didn’t work for me. What I believed to be solid ground was really sinking sand! There comes a point in time where we are forced to make a choice—do we continue the path to death (oh, it may not have been a physical death but my spirit, the very essence of me, was dying ) or accept Jesus’ path to life. The path to death was filled with regrets, mistakes, and a lot of pain. It was familiar. But Jesus stood at the other path with His arms open wide saying: Come!  I went that way!  Jesus’ path to life has been filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control! (okay, the self-control one is still a work in process). It has not been an easy path. I’ve had to give up the “whats” and “whos” that were not part of God’s plan for my life. There has been pain, but it is the pain of restoration. There have been tears, but they are tears of release from bondages. I have grown weary but He carried me. I have wanted to quit, but He cheered me on through scripture and His people.  I have had to surrender myself in order to gain freedom.

10 Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.

12 Lord Almighty,
blessed is the one who trusts in you. (Psalm 84:10-12) NIV

Oh LORD, my heavenly Father. Thank you that I don’t even have to spend a Nano-second thinking that I am alone for you are always with me. You are my joy, my comforter, my redeemer. You have lifted my head and given me honor as your daughter. Thank you for your relentless pursuit of me. Help me, through my words and deeds, always point others to You. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Ezekiel 16-18; John 6

Sorry I am a bit late this morning. As we look at John 6 today perhaps the disciples were a bit late too in realizing the power and scope of what Jesus could/can do.

Some of my favorite words with the disciples are found here:

8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” (John 6:8-10 [ESV])

Andrew is my favorite disciple. Who is your favorite? I like Andrew because he was always bringing people to Jesus. I think Andrew was a people person. Here he is with a young boy in tow. The boy had five loaves and two fish, but Andrew was bringing him to Jesus to see if he could help in feeding the five thousand people gathered with the disciples. Phillip had already failed the test, and in Andrew’s case he would fail again when he brings some asking about Jesus to Andrew and asks him what should we do with these guys and Andrew takes them to Jesus.

And the most important bring was most likely his brother — Simon Peter. And Andrew was probably humble too. From then on Andrew was referred to as Simon Peter’s brother, not the other way around and you never hear anything about that from Andrew.

I love Andrew’s character for three reasons… I’ll share two here. First, he must have been a people person. I can resonate with that cause I am one too. Second, he brought people to Jesus. He wasn’t the big spokesman or front man, but he kept building relationships and bringing people to Jesus. That is something we can all do.We don’t need to have all the answers all we need to do is point people to Jesus.

Who are you pointing to Jesus today?

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Ezekiel 13-15; Psalm 136; John 5

John 5 begins with one of Jesus’ first healings, the healing of the sick man by the pool on the Sabbath. Jesus encounters a man by Bethseda who had been an invalid for 38 years. Jesus goes over and talks to him, and, after the man explains that no one is there to put him in the water, Jesus heals him.

Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” John 5:8-10 ESV

This is one of many passages where Jesus’ commands and actions conflict with the Pharisees’ laws. While Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testaments laws, he disapproved of the many laws and regulations the Pharisees heaped upon the people. The Pharisees didn’t teach the people the reason for the law or why they followed it, they just made sure everyone followed every rule, even the ones they made up.

And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:17-18 ESV

Only 5 chapters in to John, the Pharisees are already planning to kill Jesus because of what He teaches. Instead of turning to Him, those who thought they had an excellent knowledge of the Law and Prophets reject Him.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40 ESV

Too often I turn to other things for “life” instead of Jesus. It is easy to believe good deeds and following the rules will get you into heaven, but Jesus makes it clear: He is the Only Way. Only Jesus can give true life, something those who humble themselves and turn to Him will receive.

Dear God, Thank You for Scripture, please help me understand it so I can learn more about You. Thank you for Your Perfect Son, the fulfillment of Scripture, and help me turn to You for “life” not lesser things that cannot provide it. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Ezekiel 10-12; Psalm 83; John 4

I recently got results from a DNA ancestry/health test I took. I was unprepared for the depth of feelings I’d feel as I looked at the results and saw a profile of my ancestry–such a gasp of wonder and joy, a glimpse into a past. It was really exciting, and more than that, I felt a connection and belonging to a greater history. There were fun findings–that I’m likely to drink more caffeine than average (true) and that I am likely to be more afraid of heights than others (also true). And it fell short in a couple of places suggesting that I don’t have a widow’s peak (I do), and that I’m likely to dislike cilantro (I buy it weekly–love!).

Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. They talk, and he tells her things about herself she already knew–things about her choices and past. It’s stuff the people in her life might know, that she might even be known for, but that a stranger wouldn’t know. Instead of feeling shame or embarrassment or apathy, she has a kind of wonder, and perhaps relief.

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” (John 4:39, NLT, emphasis added)

She comes to the well every day to fill a very real need (and perhaps much of her life was spent trying to fill a need for acceptance, provision, love, belonging, purpose, fulfillment), and he promises her an everlasting satisfaction. Living water.

I think of my ancestors and I want to know more–their names, their stories, and what they were searching for. What were they leaving, and what were they pursuing that moved a lineage from place to place, and finally here to my doorstep in the woods?

Father God, you will stop at nothing. No distance. No desperation. You already know I love cilantro and coffee. You know the depth of my weaknesses. You know my struggles and my strengths. You know every thought I’ve ever had, every word I’ve ever spoken, and every feeling I’ve ever felt (even the ones I try to keep from myself)–and you don’t flinch. You don’t turn away. You meet me in the place of my need, and I feel like you’re telling me, ‘You can keep coming back to (this place) looking for (understanding, satisfaction, answers, fulfillment, love), but even if it meets your need today, you’ll be back here again tomorrow. I can meet that need once and for all time so that you don’t need to keep returning to (a place) that can’t (heal you).” Lord, I believe you because … you know everything about me, you keep your promises, you are able.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 7-9; John 3

As a young teenager I found reading parts of the Old Testament rather exciting at times, confusing some of the times, and many times the dots just did not seem to connect. Thankfully, as I continued to read, and engage in a local church, it was helpful to get some perspective on certain stories and how the connection between the Old and New Testament narrative really made a difference in my understanding of God’s relationship with me.

Peace has been a measuring stick for success in many of the Old Testament stories.  When there was no peace, you could count on something being wrong in characters relationship with God.  I hold the same yard stick in my life.  If peace is missing in any decision that I make, I know I need to square things up with God or step away from the activity where I find peace missing. I cannot imagine what it will be like in the end times when the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth and people will be looking for God but cannot find Him.  The book of Revelation says that they would rather have the mountains and rocks fall on them instead of living life without God’s love.

 You will be terrified and will desperately look for peace—but there will be no peace. – Ezekiel 7:25  CEV

The story I am most impressed upon, in keeping a right relationship with God, is where the people of Israel are complaining, once again, and God allows poisonous snakes to come into camp to kill them. I think the story was one of awe and wonder that God had just about had enough of all this complaining.  Could He ever run out of patience with me? Then I keep reading the story in Numbers 21.4-9 and it ends with an amazing gift from God once the people repented. A bronze snake is made, put on a pole, lifted up, and every person bitten were healed if they looked at the snake and every person looking at the bronze snake were not bitten. In other words, if you looked at the bronze snake, you did not die.  What a story!

Then to see that this was not just a story, but a game plan God had in mind with Jesus, I am still blown away today.  Here is God, trying to explain exactly what He means by sending Jesus to the cross, and He has created the perfect illustration from a real life experience in the Old Testament. I could not miss this plan of salvation even if I tried.

And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert. – John 3:14  CEV

That is how much He wants to save me from my sin, my rebelliousness, my desire to walk away from Him.

Lord, what can I say of Your desire to create peace in my heart by having such a loving relationship with You. Thank You!

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Ezekiel 4-6; Psalms 82; John 2

“The place will be littered with corpses, and you will know that I alone am the Lord.  “But I will let a few of my people escape destruction, and they will be scattered among the nations of the world.  Then when they are exiled among the nations, they will remember me.  They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols.  Then at last they will hate themselves for all their detestable sins.  They will know that I alone am the Lord and that I was serious when I said I would bring this calamity on them.” Ezekiel 6:7-10 NLT

Sometimes the destruction is all I see.  But, when I look up to God I have hope.  He is merciful.  He can use my brokenness to teach me to run to him.

“Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” “What!” they exclaimed.  “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body.  After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.” John 2:17-22 NLT

Like the Jewish leaders, I don’t always understand what Jesus is doing.  It can be hard to see past my hurts.  The tearing down of my own life can be painful.  There are unhealthy habits that took a long time to build.  But, they don’t take long to tear down when I surrender to him.  He promises to rebuild and restore.  He breaths life into the dead areas in my life and makes them new. By His blood, I already have the victory.

“Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him.  But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people.  No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.” John 2:23&24 NLT

Jesus knew that some would still betray him, even after seeing the miracles he did.  They were caught up in the moment and their hearts  wavered.  Their trust didn’t run deep.  It was fleeting.

Dear Father, I desire to remain faithful to you.  Thank you for the promise to heal my broken heart and bind my wounds (Psalms 147:3).  Thank you for your faithfulness. I give you the Glory. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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