Monthly Archives: November 2018

Esther 1-3; Psalm 139; Revelation 1

10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.

15 When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her.

20 Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him.  Esther 2:10-11;15; 20 ESV

Lord, let me follow after you with such trusting integrity.  Lord, Esther was beautiful in form and in quiet obedience. In all her ways, she was pleasing. May my obedience present me as beautiful, as pleasing unto You, the true King! May my trust be as single-eyed as hers. You are in control!

Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it. Psalm 139:4-6 ESV

Psalm 139 blankets me like a gracious coverlet, and I nestle under its encompassing warmth. Curling up, as a small child, in resting trust.  Known inside and out, before, behind, what is yet to be.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you. Psalm 139:11-12 ESV

Darkness is as light to you, O Lord! You are light. There is nothing hidden from you. My safety in You knows no bounds.  There is no fear of dark with You.  Wrap me in Your love, O Lord.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail[b] on account of him.

Even so. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:5-8 ESV

Lord, I walk in freedom in You! I walk in Your love. Help me to realize the full depth of that freedom and love! In Esther, I see You “who was”, in Psalm 139, I am immersed in You, “who is” and in Revelation 1, I glory in my God “who is to come!” You are coming with the clouds and everyone shall see You! Help me to fully bow before You now and to walk continually in trusting integrity before You all of my days.

Rebecca

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Ezra 5-6; Psalm 95; 3 John

My first impression reading of the prophets speaking over the people was of God’s sovereignty.

At that time the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem. They prophesied in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jehozadak responded by starting again to rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them and helped them (Ezra 5:1-2, NLT, emphasis added).

I thought about God’s sovereignty in the wait. When rebuilding was questioned and archives were searched to verify permission, I thought about what their life might have felt like in the wait. (I thought of what my life has felt like in times of wait.)

Then I saw his abundant provision. The prophets of God were with them and helped them. King Darius responds to the query, confirming permission and payment in full from the taxes collected so that their work wouldn’t be interrupted, and he adds:

Give the priests in Jerusalem whatever is needed in the way of young bulls, rams, and male lambs for the burnt offerings presented to the God of heaven. And without fail, provide them with as much wheat, salt, wine, and olive oil as they need each day. 10 Then they will be able to offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the welfare of the king and his sons. (Ezra 6:9-10, NLT, emphasis added)

Father God, you remind me: You are sovereign. You are my provider. You are my portion. I keep my eyes fixed on you, seeking your kingdom, listening for your voice.

Come, let us sing to the Lord!
    Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
    Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
For the Lord is a great God,
    a great King above all gods.
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
    and the mightiest mountains.
The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
    His hands formed the dry land, too.

Come, let us worship and bow down.
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
    for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
    the flock under his care.

If only you would listen to his voice today! (Psalm 95:1-7, NLT)

God affects life in his big-picture way, and allows us to be agents on his behalf in the details, rolling up sleeves like the prophets did in Ezra, supporting others in ministry, using gifts and talents for God’s kingdom.

Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God. (3 John 5-6, NLT)

And, in response to Diotrephes’s pride and motivation:

11 Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God. (3 John 11, NLT)

Lord, thank you for meeting me every morning for a sunrise walk, for speaking into and over my life, for changing my heart and changing my vision. Thank you for letting me show your love when I serve others. This is a sweet privilege.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Zechariah 12-14; Psalms 94; 2 John

We see it in the Psalms.

Blessed is the man whom You discipline, O Lord, and whom You teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.  For the Lord will not forsake His people; He will not abandon His heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.” (Psalms 94:12-15 ESV)

We see it through the prophecies.

And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested.  They will call upon my name, and I will answer them.   I will say, ‘They are my people; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.” (Zechariah 13:9 ESV)

And the Lord will be king over all the earth.  On that day the Lord will be one and His name one.” (Zechariah 14:9 ESV)

We see it through letters by the apostles.

Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.” (2 John 3 ESV)

The message is the same.  God is in control.  He loves His followers.  He is king and Lord.

Kellie

 

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Zechariah 9-11; 1 John 5

Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
it is the Lord who makes the storm clouds.
He gives showers of rain to men,
and plants of the field to everyone.
The idols speak deceitfully,
diviners see visions that lie;
they tell dreams that are false,
they give comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wander like sheep
oppressed for lack of a shepherd.

“My anger burns against the shepherds,
and I will punish the leaders;
for the Lord Almighty will care
for his flock, the people of Judah,
and make them like a proud horse in battle. (Zech. 10:1-3) NIV

As I ponder verses in the Bible, it often occurs to me there really is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). Zechariah is so descriptive of what is happening in our own time in history. So many have turned from the Lord and are wandering aimlessly through life. They live as exiles from God and others. We are created for connection, and often out of hurt or desperation make bad choices in that area. Without God, we can easily become lost sheep. We have an enemy that rules this world and wants to keep us separated from the Truth. He wants nothing more than to “shepherd” us as far away from God as possible. The world promises hope and comfort but really what we receive is despair and bondage. That is not how God wants us to live.

These verses tell us that we are to seek God’s provision for our lives and believe Him—not the idols or false prophets of our time. God alone is the one we can trust and believe.  He will guide us and will not lead us astray. The idols, or things of this world, lie to us and confuse us. Like sheep, we are prone to wander. We keep looking and looking for the true Shepherd.

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River[b] to the ends of the earth. (Zech. 9:9-10) NIV

He can be found, this Shepherd, and we as believers are His flock, His people, and He will care for us. God promised us a deliverer long before Jesus came to earth and we find hints (a.k.a prophecies) all throughout the Old Testament. Even with these prophecies, he did not come in the way anyone expected. God had a different plan—a much better way. These verses are especially meaningful as we have recently celebrated Thanksgiving and are rapidly approaching Christmas. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter—all holidays meant to praise and honor our Almighty LORD and be grateful for his plan to bring us to Himself. Let’s celebrate our righteous and victorious King!

Lord, I know how easy it is to be distracted and led away from you. Please help me keep my focus on you through a heart of gratitude, through humble service, and love for others. Your Son showed me how to do that. May I continue to study the Word, who is your Son, and live as He lived.  In His name I pray. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Zechariah 9-11; 1 John 5

Periodically I hear people criticize Christianity because they say it’s just a bunch of rules you have to follow. And the Apostle John sort of agrees with them in this passage. And yet in the middle of these verses you find an astounding statement. See if you can find it.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—sour faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5 [ESV])

Did you find it? I think the second sentence in verse three is astounding, “And his commandments are not burdensome.” I am reminded of some of the world class athletes we know. Michael Jordan never complained about the rules in basketball. He never complained because the basket rim was at 10 feet. He never complained about the 3 second rule or the length of the court. He was world class while playing within those constraints and excelled.

The rules and commands we find in the Bible are for our good. They protect us and give us freedom. They are not there to control but to bring freedom to our lives. They are not oppressive but freeing.

How bout you? What command are you having trouble with? Have you thought about the fact that obeying that command will bring you freedom. Try it and see if it works.

Oh and by the way. By keeping these commands in no way gets us into heaven. The Apostle John addresses that later in the chapter and takes all the guess work out about the heaven thing. Read below:

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13 [ESV])

So he gives us that answer right there in the statement. We enter into an eternal relationship with God by putting our trust in Him alone for our salvation. Simple believe in what He has done for us on the cross.

So where are you in all this today? Are you believing in Jesus alone for your salvation? Do you understand that it isn’t a bunch of rule keeping that gets us there? But on the other hand do you realize how freeing it is to live by the rules and commands God has given us? Think on these things today.

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Zechariah 2-5; Psalm 93; 1 John 3

See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 ESV

To often I forget that God has made me pure. Jesus’ death paid the price for my sin and I am free from eternal torment. Oh what wonderful love this is! While I am free from sins penalties, I should strive to live a righteous life for the LORD.

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 1 John 3:10-11 ESV

It is important for me not just to love God, but also to love my brother and my neighbor as myself. In fact, these are the two greatest commandments I have been given. I am to love others, even when I don’t feel like it, because it is what God wants me to do. When I walk in God’s righteous ways and am saved by Christ, I no longer wear the filthy rags of my sin, but am instead clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” Zechariah 3:4 ESV

Zechariah 3 tells the famous vision of Joshua’s dirty robes. Just as Joshua’s dirty robes were taken away and Satan’s accusations were silenced, so mine dirty robes were removed and the accusations against me silence. Christ’s sacrifice removed even the dirties fabrics of the clothes and put me in shining, clean robes, fit for His service,

Dear God, thank You for send Jesus so I could be clothed in His righteousness. Please help me love my brother and neighbor as myself, just as I have been called to do. Thank You for Your Grace. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Haggai; Zechariah 1; Psalm 138; 1 John 2

I remember 2 Chronicles 7:14 so well – it’s been drilled into my life through so many different kinds of prayer meetings. What a surprise to find the same message in Haggai this morning. When God is not a priority – it matters to Him!  I find myself meditating on His challenge.

Think about what I have said! – Haggai 1:7  CEV

While I might have been challenged this morning, it matters nothing unless I heed it.  What I love about God is that His grace was extended to me like He allows does.

The Lord’s answer was kind and comforting. – Zechariah 1:13  CEV

So what does that mean in my life today.  What can I expect?  Turning to the Lord, making Him my priority, gives me amazing blessings – love, protection, safety, kindness.

I worship at your holy temple and praise you for your love and your faithfulness.  You were true to your word and made yourself more famous than ever before.  Though you are above us all, and you keep a close watch on everyone who is proud.  I am surrounded by trouble, but you protect me against my angry enemies.  With your own powerful arm you keep me safe. You, Lord, will always treat me with kindness. Your love never fails. You have made us what we are. Don’t give up on us now!  – Psalm 138: 2, 6-8  CEV

Quite a journey this morning – repentance, Lord responds with grace, embraces me with blessings – how do I respond to that kind of cherishing?  A different kind of challenge ends my morning devotion.  God has called me to love Him, to have close friends who do the same, love others and in all of this, I cannot even give a small room in my heart to love the world.

We truly love God only when we obey him as we should, and then we know that we belong to him. My dear friends, I am not writing to give you a new commandment. It is the same one that you were first given, and it is the message you heard. But if we love others, we are in the light, and we don’t cause problems for them.  Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. – 1 John 2:5,7,10,15

Lord, this morning You are speaking right into my heart. As much as You have challenged me, You have made me come alive as I realize that I feel so connected with You. I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me the courage to be the follower of You that You have called me to be.  I do not want to live the life of a bored Christian.  May those I connect with see the passion in my life that You have put there.  Thank you for challenging me to make You a priority. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

 

 

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