Monthly Archives: July 2019

Hosea 9-12; Romans 7; Psalm 73

Wow – where did this dark reading come from? Three selections of scripture that paint a pretty dark picture of life. It starts with punishment and it leaves me thinking I am a fool or at least mad for following Jesus.

The days of punishment have come;
    the days of recompense have come;
    Israel shall know it.
The prophet is a fool;
    the man of the spirit is mad,
because of your great iniquity
    and great hatred. – Hosea 9:7  ESV

Even if I am alone, it is my task to speak the kingdom of God to deaf ears. In doing so I know there will be those who think I am strange and startling.

And yet, how true am I really? I end up not doing what is right, but rather wrong. I am amazed how my true self is revealed in Romans chapter seven. I am nothing really. Look how the chapter ends:

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. – Romans 7:25  ESV

How I wish I could have read Romans chapter eight this morning. Then maybe I could have shared some good news.

The Psalms, true to their nature, did not help, well not exactly. Psalm seventy-three starts rough. There is a full attack on naive faith. The world has declared that God is not King, His will does not rule and that He is irrelevant at best.

But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. – Psalm 73:2-3  ESV
What do I tell people who ask me if it is useless to serve God with a clean heart. What if they ask me what is the point of “being on God’s side?”
I thank the Lord that the end of Psalm seventy-three offers a turning point. There is something special about being in the presence of God, of belonging to Him. How did I perceive this truth? Worship has a way of confronting the false claims. Worship has a way of pulling the veneer off the face of evil. Worship refocuses my eyes so that I can see “the rest of the story.” I end up confessing clearly the ground rules for renewed faith.
But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end. – Psalm 73: 16-17  ESV
I see that once again I experienced very narrow tunnel vision. Need to experience my eyes seeing more and my ears hearing more. Worship helps.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works. – Psalm 73:28  ESV
Father, thank you for worship. Thank you Holy Spirit for drawing me into who Jesus is. May my dark days, turn to dark moments and may they be shorter and shorter as I enter Your presence and spend more time with You. Amen.
Erwin (evanlaar1922)
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Hosea 5-8; Romans 6

Oh Israel and Judah, what shall I do with you?” asks the Lord. “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight.  I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices.  I want you to know me, more than I want burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:4-6 NLT

I imagine God saying, “Oh Amy, what shall I do with you? Don’t you remember that it all comes back to knowing me?”

What am I trying to offer God, other than myself?

Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean that we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” Romans 6:15-18 NLT

What am I a slave to? The reality is that I am a slave to whatever is consuming me.  If it’s not Jesus, than what is it?  I have fallen into this trap more times than I would like to admit.  But God’s hand is waiting to pull me out.

“But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God.  Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ  Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:22&23 NLT

I painted a picture of a girl holding broken ropes. The girl is me. It is a visual reminder of bondage that is breaking. Freedom. Letting go of things that I would rather hold on to. Habits, behaviors, ways of thinking that are causing death in areas where God wants me to have abundant life,  He wants my heart.

“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us.  He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds.  In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence.  Oh! That we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” Hosea 6:1-3 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your grace and forgiveness.  Thank you for restoring what is lost and for healing my wounds. Give me the courage to release what is keeping me bound. And trust you with it.  Trust you with my life.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hosea 2-4; Romans 5

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. ”

Romans 5:1-5, NIV

What brings you hope? According to Romans 5, the work of God brings the most hope. However, it costs something. It costs our comfort. When in the midst of suffering it is extremely difficult to continue, at least continue with life as usual. It can be hard going to work; interacting with friends and family; going to parties; going to church.

I am training for a half marathon in November. Yes, it will take me that long to prepare…and even then, we shall see. Right now I’m at the point of running 5 minutes and then walking 3 minutes. I do that 3 times. I can’t tell you how much I want to stop and walk when I reach 3 or 4 minutes. Continuing to run when everything inside me (mostly my lungs) wants to stop is painful! When I’m running with a friend, it’s a lot easier to keep running. On my own? Sometimes I quit and sometimes I don’t. I can tell I’m improving. The stress and struggle is working.

After 6 weeks of training…I have hope.

Has your suffering brought you hope? Has God brought you through something that has created hope and peace? Looking back and remembering what God has done is a good practice. Take time today to remember. You are different today than when you first started your journey with God. Have hope because of the suffering you have been through to give you hope for the suffering you are in now because your God has not abandoned you; He has not forgotten you; He is with you.

Dear Father, you know suffering. You know how our suffering can lead us astray. We ask you boldly today to make yourself known to us in our suffering. Provide your peace and hope in the midst of suffering while we continue to persevere. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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2 Kings 15-16; Hosea 1; Romans 4

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3 ESV

In Romans Chapter 4, Paul uses Abraham repeatedly as an example of someone whose faith in God lead to fulfilled promises and a long-lasting legacy. Abraham’s faith was not without faulters or missteps, but he sought wholeheartedly to obey God and trust His promises. This faith would be counted to him as righteousness.

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. Romans 4:18-19 ESV

Abraham was faced with seemingly impossible promises. God said that Abraham’s children would be numbered like the stars in the sky before any of his them had even been born. Such a declaration would quickly be deemed impossible by my limited human observation of the situation, but God is not confined to what we see on the surface. While Abraham did not understand how God was going to bring this plan about, he trusted that he would, despite the seemingly impossible nature of this promise.

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 20-21 ESV

While Abraham may have only started with a small faith, it grew more and more as time went one. God fulfilled His promises to Abraham. He had a son, a family line, and a legacy. He not only had a physical legacy through his children and his children’s children, but he also left an exemplary model of faith.

That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the death Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Romans 22-25 ESV

Abraham’s faith still serves as am example to me, thousands of years later. Although I might not understand how everything is going to work out, I can trust God to care for me. Just like Abraham, my faith can be counted to me as righteousness before God.

Dear God, Thank You so much for sending Jesus to cover my sins. Please strengthen my faith in You and Your promises. Thank You for the examples of faith in the Bible that show me how to follow you. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Isaiah 6-7; 2 Chronicles 26-27; Romans 3

My phone sounded an alarm as the storm moved in. I figured it was a warning about the coming storm or a flash-flood. Our friends were pulling in the driveway and I stepped outside as the rain just began to fall gently. The winds were a little gusty, and I was surprised at the cracking sounds of tree and limb I heard from the woods. We got inside as the downpour began. My oldest watched from the window and saw the trees shaking in the storm. I chatted my friend until the rain let up and she could drive safely on.

The news had come to the royal court of Judah: “Syria is allied with Israel against us!” So the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm (Isaiah 6:2, NLT).

It turns out the alarm was about taking shelter because we were under a tornado watch. I didn’t see the full of the message until 30 minutes later, after the watch period was over. I truly thank God for all the ways He shelters me and protects me and provides for me.

Unless your faith is firm,
    I cannot make you stand firm (Isaiah 7:9b, NLT).

I think on storms and faith and fear. I think on times my heart trembles, shaking, and times I’ve felt my spirit steady and cling to Him in the storm. He tells me He watches over me and shows me how He protects me from threats I’m not even aware of.

27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. 30 There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law (Romans 3:27-31, NLT).

Only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law. Faith is so powerful and yet so simple. I hold it like a jewel and turn it over in my hands, like a beautiful gift. Oh, love.

Lord, I treasure you. You surprise me. You amaze me. I’m so very grateful you love me. So very grateful to be called yours.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 4-5; Romans 2; Psalm 115-116

Psalm 116 NIV

1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.

2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow.

4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “LORD, save me!”

5 The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

6 The LORD protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.

7 Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.

8 For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,

9 that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

10 I trusted in the LORD when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”;

11 in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.

14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.

15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.

16 Truly I am your servant, LORD; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.

17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.

18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,

19 in the courts of the house of the LORD– in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.

 

Oh, the love of Jehovah.

He heard me. He paid attention to me. He was moved by my plea.

He stretched himself to reach me.

How can I do anything else with my life but tell of His love, His power, His deliverance – for His glory?

I was dying. I was dead.

I was overcome by sin, and powerless to free myself.

I was physically and emotionally broken.

But then I called out to God. I begged Him to rescue me, to save my life, and to save my soul.

And He did.

Because He is full of mercy and love. He is compassionate and gracious.

He is good, even though I am not.

He rescued me, and He keeps on rescuing me.

He teaches me and grows my understanding of Him, of me, and of the world around me.

Now I can rest in Him.

Now I need not work and labor and be overcome by life.

Now I need not give in to worry and anxiety about the future or the past.

Because He has been good to me. And He continues to be good to me.

He was good when He delivered my soul from death.

He is good when He delivers me from my fears and sorrows.

He is good when He keeps my feet secure and holds me up when I begin to fall.

And so I can walk freely and confidently as a testimony of His goodness and grace.

I trust in Him, so I can speak with confidence before Him.

I can express myself to Him when I’m fearful, overwhelmed, and discouraged.

I can express myself when it feels like the world is against me.

And He will rescue me again like He has done before.

How can I ever repay such love and kindness?

I will tell of His love and share His mercy with those around me.

I will live to reflect His grace and power.

I will worship Him both in word and deed.

I will show my love by my life surrendered to His glory and will.

May I never grow tired of sharing how God has delivered me from death.

May I never grow tired of sharing with others how they, too, can find life.

May I rest in the confidence that I have been a faithful servant.

May gratitude never leave my heart or my mouth.

May I glorify the Lord as long as I live.

 

Father, thank you for rescuing me. Let me never forget it or take it for granted. Help me to find confidence to share your rescuing love with those around me. Help me to live for your honor and glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

 

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Isaiah 1-3; Romans 1

18 “Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool.
19 If you will only obey me,
you will have plenty to eat.
20 But if you turn away and refuse to listen,
you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies.
I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Isaiah 1:18-20) NLT

There are times the Lord has warned me—“that is not a good choice you are making.” He’s spoken to me through his word. But I, like the Israelites, tend to be “stiff-necked” and wanting my own way. Surely, I know better. What can be the harm of doing things my way? So, the proverbial “sword of your enemies” enters the picture. I tend to learn some lessons the hard way! Thankfully, there is repentance. Through Jesus, my sins are white as snow.

16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.[g] 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (Rom 1:16-17) NLT

I believe the Good News about Christ. I believe Jesus forgives my sins. Oh, how I wish he didn’t have to forgive as many as he does. I am thankful he makes me aware. The longer I walk with him, the more it grieves me when I haven’t acted as I know he would want me to act. I lose my temper, I say unkind words, I miss opportunities to be his hands and feet out of fear or because I’m just “too busy”. I complain way too much instead of trusting. If I look through my lens, I certainly don’t see a person becoming more like Jesus. But that is what is so good about the Good News. He does see the changes; he does not give up on me. With every pound of that hammer on the nails that held him to the cross, he showed how much he loves me and wants me to be with him. I am righteous because of him.

Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world. God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart[d] by spreading the Good News about his Son.

10 One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. 11 For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. 12 When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. (Romans 1:8-12)

My small group has recently completed studying the book of Acts which is the account of how the church began and grew. As we read through the book, I could not help but notice how often Paul spoke of his prayers. In particular, he prayed to go to Rome. God answered that prayer after many years but certainly not in the way he expected. He went through so much hardship getting there: shipwrecks, flogging, imprisonment to mention a few. Yet he “counted it all joy” to suffer for Christ. How often do I pray for an opportunity to serve but I am unwilling (or complain) about the path God has chosen to answer that prayer? He was willing to endure whatever God asked in order to spread the Good News.

I love the basic principle he brought out— “I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” I have noticed how much it encourages me to hear someone else’s testimony of faith. As thankful as I am to have my own testimony to share, it excites me to hear about God working in someone else’s life. Just that act of listening to someone else can be a gift to both of us.

Lord, I pray for the opportunity to encourage others by sharing my story and to be encouraged by listening to theirs. The Good News of Jesus and his love for us is too good to keep to ourselves. I pray to be as focused as Paul to tell as many people as possible of eternal life through belief in Jesus. In his mighty name I pray. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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