Monthly Archives: August 2019

Isaiah 60-63; Colossians 3

How do we live out Colossians 3:23?

Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.

First we work from the heart. We put our whole heart into what we are doing. If we are cheating at work we are really cheating God. If we slough off at home it’s really God we are dissing.

Second, don’t be a man pleaser. You are not doing your job for your boss, you are doing it for God, so don’t be looking to that person for your meaning and affirmation. Be looking to God. Yes, of course we want to be pleasing our family and friends, but it’s because we are first seeking to please God and follow His Word.

Third, work and serve without grumbling. God sees your situation and knows what is happening. Remember He has you right where He wants you so what you are going through right now is based on where He has put you. If you are grumbling about your situation you are grumbling about God.

Fourth, work without comparison. Remember Jesus giving Peter a mission for his life and he wanted to know about Jesus’ plans for John. In John 21:22 Jesus basically said it’s none of your business. Judge your progress on where you have come from, not on the other person. Do your best and forget the rest!

Fifth, we should be working to hear the words, “Well done” spoken to us by God our Father. He is the one we are pleasing. Keep those words in your mind. That’s our goal in the end.

Sixth, thank God for every circumstance in which He has you. In those times and situations remember you are God’s ambassador and work and live to please Him and thank you for the journey He has you on.

Father God, thank you for the opportunity to serve you in all that we do. Help us to keep our focus on you and work in a way that shows You and others that we long to hear those precious words, “Well done!”

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Isaiah 57-59; Colossians 2; Psalm 103

The readings today have my thoughts in lots of places–imagery of those seeking the peace of God in the wrong places; paths that lead to destruction; of a mighty God who’d come down from his throne to rescue; His promises; His kingdom. I read of His might and strength and love and mercy. I read of so many of His qualities and attributes.

I trust you, Lord. I trust you with my days. I trust you with my burdens. I trust you with my broken heart. I trust you will never abandon me. I trust you to guide me and carry me.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7, NLT).

Lord, I am so thankful that you love me. Sometimes the busyness of responsibilities distracts me from the simplicity of what really matters. I am grateful for these quiet times with you, to just be still and listen.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 53-56; Colossians 1

Here is a portion of scripture that I have found on many church walls, well not the whole portion, just the first few lines, but the rest explains the vision of the church’s desire to see God grow the church.

“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
    and strengthen your stakes.
 For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
    and your offspring will possess the nations
    and will people the desolate cities.

 “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
    be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
    and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
 For your Maker is your husband,
    the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
    the God of the whole earth he is called.

 – Isaiah 54:2-5  ESV

While the tent is identifiable to me as something easily moved, it is not something that can weather a storm. That is why the following verses above means so much. My goal is not to stay  in one place – I need to move as the Holy Spirit leads. The only time I will be in a city and have a solid home is when I am called into the city of God. That is the idea I get through so many scriptures in the New Testament calling me to preach the gospel where Christ has not yet been named, to leaven with the gospel those who are strangers to it and ultimately, lengthen the cords of my tent so that more can be enclosed. With these promises comes divine power. That is why I will not be ashamed. I can remember when I messed up badly at the beginning, but those days are gone now that I walk in confidence with God. I find it hard to believe that I am actually married to Christ. He is my Redeemer for He brought me out from my captivity and my bondage to sin. As the Lord of hosts, He has this irresistible power that I am drawn to and I give Him, actually try to give Him, absolute sovereignty in my life. I know that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Until that day, I plan on doing the same, each and every day.

And as for my call to enlarge my tent – I follow my call to be a disciple-maker.

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. – Colossians 1:28  ESV

Father, thank You for my call, thank You for walking with me, thank You for Your power and wisdom that You freely give me to share the gospel for all who want to receive.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

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Isaiah 49-52; Philippians 4, Psalms 92

“And now the Lord speaks-the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him.  The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength.  He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me.  I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:5&6 NLT

God has been teaching me about restoration. He is showing me that I want things done quickly, but it takes time (usually more than I think). It’s a process. It’s messy. It doesn’t always go as planned.  God says, he “will do more than restore.” Restoration is not just about me. It is for others to see God’s glory. It takes the pressure off to feel like I have to do it on my own. I have to trust that he will use it for good.  But, do I?

“The Sovereign Lord has given me words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary.  Morning by morning he awakens me and opens my understanding to his will.”  Isaiah 50:4 NLT

It’s a daily pressing into him.  Knowing that he is the only one who can remove strongholds.

“Rise from the dust, O Jerusalem.  Sit in a place of honor. Remove the chains of slavery from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” Isaiah 52:2 NLT

It’s when a new rug in my daughter’s room starts to look more like a prayer rug. It becomes holy ground.  A place to fight the battle.  To feel the presence of God. To feel his peace.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6&7 NLT

I rest in this promise…

“This is what the Lord says: “At just the right time I will respond to you.  On the day of salvation I will help you.  I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them.” Isaiah 49:8

Dear Father, Help me to remember that you hear and answer my prayers, even when it is hardest to pray. Thank you for showing me your love. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning. And that you are making all things new. I am praising you before the breakthrough. You already have the victory. Amen.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High.  It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening…You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!” Psalms 92 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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Isaiah 45-48; Phil. 3

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

Philippians 3:7-9 NIV

As I read the words above, I am sitting on my front porch in the cool of the morning. The sun is up and filtering through the trees. Traffic is light out on the main road and all seems well. I love this time of day. Time to sit, reflect, read and drink coffee. It can feel perfect. I want to just sit in this moment all day. But…I can’t. I have errands to run, people to meet and work to do.

In my comfort I struggle to consider it a loss for the sake of Christ. I don’t know about you, but I like comfort. I like financial security, I like beautiful days, I like air conditioning, I like enough food on the table, I like a car with enough gas. Life is good!! And in that, I am a minority. My reality is very far from the majority of people in this world. It’s even further from the reality that Paul was in when he wrote these words

Paul was in prison. Suffering and yet counting it joy for the sake of Christ. I used to think that I had to suffer in order to fully understand Paul’s words. The reality is, however, that we all suffer in some way because we live in a fallen broken world. So how do Paul’s words…God’s words…change me?

For me…I look at my foundation and my support.

  • Am I clinging to momentary comfort or to Christ?
  • Is my faith in Christ dependent on comfort, or on Him?
  • How do I use my comfort for the sake of Christ, just as I use my suffering?

I know I get this wrong more times than I get it right. I’m eternally grateful for the grace of Christ and His work that continues in my imperfection.

How can you firm up your foundation in Christ today?

Father, thank you for your words, your direction, your grace and your righteousness. Continue to work in and through us as we seek to cling to you and stand on you as our foundation. May our lives speak of you and your goodness and mercy and salvation.

Amen

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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Isaiah 41-44; Phil 2

18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
19 I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,
20 so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.  Isaiah 41 ESV

My heart yearns with the recognition that in my life there can be a work of the Lord solely His- that can enable others to see His witness and rejoice. My heart is parched and dry, and this beautiful picture of the restoring life and beauty in the Lord renews my soul. At varied times, I have experienced this beautiful work of God that is His hand alone… I crave this, Lord. Open my eyes, Lord, and help my heart walk in tune with You.

16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42 ESV

I have felt blinded in some circumstances in my life. My path is unfamiliar, uncharted, at times rocky and hard- this is promise for me. You, Lord,  are guiding me on all these unfamiliar paths; turning my darkness into light; making all the rough places smooth; darkness is as light with You.

Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;
he cannot save himself, or say,
“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

21 “Remember these things, Jacob,
for you, Israel, are my servant.
I have made you, you are my servant;
Israel, I will not forget you.
22 I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you.” 44 ESV

The taste of the world is ashes; delusion; and falsehood. The blindness and trickery of it all speaks to me. I picture myself shining in the sun, mist and cloud blown and burnt away- the promises in Christ are mine. Forgiveness, life, and restoration. Freedom. Redemption. But I think about how easy it is to be the one foolishly eating ashes with a deluded, misleading heart.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. Phil 2 ESV

I think about how often I struggle against work;  how the Lord calls me to live above the grumblings, mutterings, dramatic turnings of my flesh. My mind so easily proffering a narrative that doesn’t even exist. My heart so easily entangled in hurt that should be irrelevant to me. I ponder what it means to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. I ponder what it means that the Lord is at work in me both to will and to work for His good pleasure. I ponder what it means to hold fast to the word of life.

Lord, help me to treasure Scripture; help me to live a life that treasures You.

Let me know Your strong work in my heart and life. Let my life bear witness to Your goodness and mighty work. I pray for springs in my desert, straight paths in a dark and unknown way, a deep recognition that I am known and loved in You, the freedom and peace from the lightness of a forgiven heart. Be with me, Lord, and help me to be with You. Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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1 Samuel 25-26; 1 Corinthians 9; Psalm 63

However Nabal acquired wealth, he died as a fool and is known as a fool. I once heard that money only magnifies who you already are–don’t be fooled into thinking that more money equates a generous heart. If one is selfish or self-centered, money will only make a person more so. And if one is generous and wise, money will magnify that as well. Abigail stands as an example of the latter. As Nabal’s wife, she benefits from the abundance, and she uses what he withheld to honor David and his troops–and to right the wrong her husband’s offense created.

Same situation, two responses: David and his men request hospitality. One man, from his abundance, rudely refuses (and then parties himself into a stupor). Another chooses to deliver the provisions herself, and humbly offers apology for her husband’s choice. She takes full responsibility.

She speaks these words to David, 2“Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling! 30 When the Lord has done all he promised and has made you leader of Israel, 31 don’t let this be a blemish on your record. Then your conscience won’t have to bear the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance (1 Samuel 25:29-31, NLT, emphasis mine).”

I have sometimes wondered if I had things to do over again, equipped with knowledge I have now, if I would have shown the same kindness. David also voices the sentiment: 2David had just been saying, “A lot of good it did to help this fellow. We protected his flocks in the wilderness, and nothing he owned was lost or stolen. But he has repaid me evil for good (1 Samuel 25:21, NLT).” Abigail underscores a point worth remembering–it doesn’t affect my record what someone else does in response (to kindness, hospitality, honor, protection, generosity, service, etc.); only what I do will affect my record. Others can provoke responses that would blemish that record and burden a conscience, but ultimately, the choice is mine. I don’t have to give that kind of power over to someone. And when I don’t, I don’t have to carry an unnecessary weight. That Abigail is one smart woman. I like her.

Nabal’s selfishness certainly spoke of his heart and no amount of money or belongings had the power to turn him into a selfless person. Saul’s focused hunting of David speaks of Saul’s heart as well. David is not even sure of why he’s being so targeted.

And David replied, “Yes, my lord the king. 18 Why are you chasing me? What have I done? What is my crime? 19 But now let my lord the king listen to his servant. If the Lord has stirred you up against me, then let him accept my offering. But if this is simply a human scheme, then may those involved be cursed by the Lord (1 Samuel 26:17b-19, NLT).”

This is a completely different scenario from that with Nabal. I’ve thought long on this chapter before, and today, new gleaning. David knows.

23 The Lord gives his own reward for doing good and for being loyal, and I refused to kill you even when the Lord placed you in my power, for you are the Lord’s anointed one. 24 Now may the Lord value my life, even as I have valued yours today. May he rescue me from all my troubles (1 Samuel 26:23-24, NLT, emphasis mine).”

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he shares encouragement that I take to heart.

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NLT).

Lord, I listen. You have been preparing me, coaching me, reminding me. You offer examples and offer a choice–you give me full permission to choose who I want to be and who I’ll follow. Every morning sunrise is a new day and a new choice. I lace up my shoes to run, and the parallel is not lost on me. I do it for an eternal prize. One that will never fade away. (Do our deeds and words echo endlessly in eternity?) Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely (Psalm 63:7-8, NLT).

Courtney (66books365)

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