Monthly Archives: May 2019

1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 3; Matthew 1; Psalm 97

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18 ESV

Matthew 1 begins the story of Jesus’ life on Earth. While it may seem that His story begins here, the genealogy at the beginning shows that this story started long ago when God promised Abraham that through him, all nations would be blessed. Matthew, and the other gospels, show firsthand how God fulfills His promises.

 …Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. Matthew 1:5-6 ESV

Many familiar names pop up throughout the genealogy. Rahab, although a prostitute in a foreign city, is a part of Jesus’ family line because of her faith in God. Although David was a poor shepherd’s boy, God chose him and his family line to rule of Israel forever. God chooses the unlikely for his rulers and royal family, those who are poor and outcast, instead of the powerful and prideful.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23 ESV

God keeps His promises. He kept his promise to David, and he kept his promise to Israel that was delivered by Isaiah hundreds of years prior. It was finally time for the long-awaited Messiah and King that had been promised by God since the Garden of Eden. The LORD is faithful.

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name! Psalm 97:12 ESV

Dear God, thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank you for fulfilling Your promise to send a Messiah to save me from my sins. Please help me be faithful and honoring towards you. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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2 Corinthians 13; Psalm 101

I’ve asked myself a lot of questions this year: What am I afraid of? Why do some circumstances elicit such a strong response from me? Who are the people influencing me, and what is their influence? What would success look like in this area of my life? What’s holding me back? Am I living with a kingdom focus?

A year ago, I started running, and when I say running, I mean I tried to run up to the top of my driveway and back. It took me three attempts to run to the top without stopping. I was thirty-five pounds overweight and hadn’t exercised in over ten years. I committed the first month of “running” to just running one round-trip lap of my driveway. The next month, I added another lap. The month after that, a third. A year later, laps turned to miles. I could have stayed where I was that first month, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Paul once referenced giving milk to new believers because they weren’t ready for meat. The Bible talks of God’s grace in preparing his people for difficulties they wouldn’t be ready to handle on a first day. And here, Paul challenges and encourages:

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

We pray to God that you will not do what is wrong by refusing our correction. I hope we won’t need to demonstrate our authority when we arrive. Do the right thing before we come—even if that makes it look like we have failed to demonstrate our authority. For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the truth. We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature.

11 Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:5, 7-9, 11, NLT).

I think on kingdom and character. David’s psalm shows me he thinks of it too.

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord.
    I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
    when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
    in my own home.
I will refuse to look at
    anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
    I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas
    and stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
    I will not endure conceit and pride.

I will search for faithful people
    to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach
    will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
    and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
    and free the city of the Lord from their grip (Psalm 101, NLT).

In recent years, my family has lost many relatives and friends to death. In reflection, their lives spoke in death of what mattered to them in life–and one day, mine will too. Who do I want to mature to be when I’m eighty? The answer tells me what I need to start doing now. Those choices speak for me when I’m gone.

Lord, David and Paul are like dear brothers to me. Thank you for giving me family in the pages of Your Word when I lost people from my life. Thank you for Your Spirit in me, guiding and correcting and challenging me. I’m even thankful for the heckler in my head, who tries to defeat me every day. Only in you, Lord, can an enemy’s taunt turn into fuel for victory.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 4-5; 2 Chronicles 2

Solomon’s vast wisdom, given by God, reaped many wonderful rewards for him personally, and for Kingdom and his people:

He established structure and organization that brought a balance with leadership and a peace to the people. He won over all his enemies so that the land experienced peace and safety, and the people of his kingdom were happy. They had all that they wanted and needed and it brought them joy. And Solomon himself was rich and had many benefits from his wise decisions.

Because of the peace, safety, and wealth, of the nation, the time finally arrived for Solomon to construct the temple. Again, he used wisdom, and again God blessed him for it! He sought help from Lebanon and received it; and in the midst of his interaction with this pagan king, Solomon gave testimony to our God, the One True God, in an attempt lead Hiram to salvation.

Having the material and ready to begin building, Solomon yet again showed his incredible wisdom in the way he managed the workers, hiring three times as many as were necessary, in order to work out shifts of work so that no man would be gone from home for a vast amount of time.

Is it any wonder the people loved this king?

Solomon didn’t use his intellect to rule harshly, to wage war on other nations, or to elevate himself. Instead, he used his wisdom to love God and love others.

Wisdom without love and compassion only serves to make a person arrogant, conceited, and harsh. But wisdom that seeks to honor God and show love to others brings about peace, safety, and joy.

I don’t have the wisdom of Solomon, but still, I must consider – how do I lead? How do I use the wisdom God has given me? Do I use it to lead with love and compassion, or do I use it to separate myself from others and become rude or harsh in my decisions?

God’s blessings came through Solomon’s humility. If I want God’s blessings in my life, I, too, must choose humility.

Lord, I want to love You and love others in the decisions I make. Help me to use the wisdom you’ve given me to glorify you, not myself. Help me to see the people I interact with as you see them, and help me to go the extra mile to benefit them with the choices I make. Thank you for Jesus’ example of wisdom and love, as He became the lowest servant to love the least of these. Help me to follow in His steps and make my decisions based on what glorifies you and benefits others and not just how I, myself, will benefit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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1 Kings 3; 2 Chronicles 1; 2 Corinthians 12; Psalm 78

Today’s readings reminded me of how present God is in our lives and how he hears our prayers. We can cry out to him when we need direction and we need healing. We may not get the answer we want but we can trust in his goodness. It starts with Solomon:

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:5-9) NIV

Solomon offers sacrifices to the Lord, and cries out to him for direction on how to be king and lead the people of Israel. God answers his prayer and gives him the gift of wisdom to rule wisely.

Paul cries out when he has been afflicted:

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7b-10) NIV

Paul’s prayer was not answered as he had prayed. God did not remove the “thorn”. God’s answer made Paul realize that he would be a better representative of Christ for any suffering he might endure. Paul endured much hardship, persecution and difficulty that can only be accounted to the very presence of God with him.

That same God is with me every day. Psalm 78 reminds me how quickly I can forget his presence and all he has done in my life. It is a reminder of the story of the Israelites and how God was with them from the beginning. I have my own story of parting seas, manna in the wilderness, and Promised Land victories over my enemies. When I feel weak, I pull out my journals and reread the story of God working in my life. He’s held me when I cried and reprimanded me when I needed correction. There are prayers he didn’t answer that now, looking back, were a blessing. Then, there are the prayers that were answered in ways I didn’t expect that far surpassed my imagination. Through it all I know I am dearly loved and never alone.

Lord, your presence is everything and I am so thankful that you call me your child. Sometimes I get caught up in my circumstances and take my eyes off Jesus. That is when I start to sink. But you quickly reach out and catch me. I am so grateful you are ever-present, as close as a whispered prayer, and always have my best interest at heart. I know I’ve not always followed through and had to go around the same mountain a time or two, but you’ve patiently allowed me to see your way is far better. You are the solid rock beneath my feet. I love you more each day. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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1 Kings 2; 1 Chronicles 29; 2 Corinthians 11; Psalm 95

It is the end of David’s life, and he gives final instructions to Solomon. He advises him on future, and he reminds him of betrayals of the past. David started as a hard-working shepherd in the fields. He died a king.

26 So David son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. 27 He reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 28 He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honor. Then his son Solomon ruled in his place (1 Chronicles 29:26-28, NLT).

Solomon had a kingdom to rule. His reign would not be without testing. First Kings 2 includes details of some of Solomon’s challenges, and how he established his rule.

Paul was Saul before his encounter with Christ. A man who once persecuted followers of Jesus, now devotes his life to truth–whatever the cost. While this passage speaks of Paul’s hardships, it is a boast of God’s faithfulness in Paul’s weakness.

I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm (2 Corinthians 11:23-27, NLT).

I pay attention to these stories. I note the challenges, the hardship, the betrayal, the legacy. But central to it all, all these stories and struggles, is the Lord.

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 (Psalm 95:6-7, NLT).

Lord, I am grateful for truth. It is worth protecting and preserving and honoring.

Courtney (66books365)

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