Monthly Archives: October 2019

2 Peter 1; Psalm 145, 128

How do you measure progress toward a task you can’t see or touch? How do you arrange touch points throughout a day or week or month for developing character and championing values? When my goals consisted of exercise, nutrition, managing my home–the tasks were clear and defined and results could be measured. But how do you measure the heart?

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. (2 Peter 1:3, NLT)

I scratch my head. I sit with this.

By his divine power.

God has given me everything I need.

For living a godly life.

I have received all of this.

By coming to know him.

The one who called me to himself.

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. (2 Peter 1:4, NLT)

Because of his glory and excellence.

He has given me great and precious promises.

His promises enable me.

Father God, you are so good to me. You are generous, glorious, excellent. You invite me to draw near to you. When I look outward and try to plan and prepare, you whisper to me, “I already gave you that. Just remain in me.” You love me so much that you supply me with all I need. I write these words down and keep them close because you are the way, the truth and the life. You make me contemplate this paradox, that I have not yet, and yet I have.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-11, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 40-41

In today’s passage Ezekiel receives a vision from God about the new temple. It is beautiful and detailed, with every inch designed to glorify the majesty of God Almighty!

God cares very much about displaying His glory and might. Thankfully, He does not dwell in a temple anymore, but rather, inside each of us who has come to know Him through Jesus.

With this in mind, as I read this passage it prompted me to ask myself a question:

What kind of temple am I?

Am I a beautiful dwelling place for God to display his power and might? Do I have rooms for Him to fill with His presence?  Does my adornment show His affection and provision in my life?

As much as I desire to be a beautiful dwelling place for my Father, I must admit that I don’t always succeed in making room for Him or in displaying His glory in my life. There are times when the things that are meant to shine begin to dull as I allow the world to cloud my eyes and my heart. I find it easy to let my life become cluttered, the rooms so full of me, my desires, my plans, and my pleasure, that there is hardly room for Him and His desires, His plans, and His pleasure. And sometimes I find myself tempted to take the credit for what I accomplish, attempting to make my life glorify myself instead of Christ.

It is a daily effort to make myself a dwelling place worthy of the glory and majesty of God Almighty, and it begins and ends with humility.

Instead of making my life and my choices about me, I must choose to point to Christ with my attitudes, speech, and behavior on a daily basis. I must choose to make room for Him. I must choose to dwell on His goodness in my life. I must choose to rely on His power and not my own. I must choose to evict myself so that He can dwell in my every moment, because I cannot be filled with Him when I am still full of me!

 

If thou could’st empty all thyself of self,

Like to a shell dishabited,

Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,

And say, “This is not dead,”

And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou are all replete with very thou

And hast such shrewd activity,

That when He comes He says, “This is enow

Unto itself – ’twere better let it be,

It is so small and full, there is no room for me.”

-T. E. Brown

 

Father, thank You for loving me and choosing to make me Your dwelling place. Forgive me for not always succeeding in making room for You. Help me to shine for You instead of me. I will empty myself so that I may be filled with You to glorify You in all that I say and do. I welcome you in my heart and my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

 

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Ezekiel 37-39; 1 Peter 5; Psalm 110

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” (Ezekiel 37:4-6)

10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. (Ezekiel 37:10)

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:8-11)

There is a very cunning enemy who really seems to know my weaknesses. I recently experienced a downward spiral because I was snared! I got caught in the trap, believed the lies, and swallowed the bait! I missed the subtle slow slide until I was taken down. Hard. I was ready to give up: my bones were dry, and my spirit was weak. My emotions got the better of me and I was letting the enemy win.

I can see how it happened. Work priorities started getting in the way of my quiet time. Then, someone touched a tender spot with their words and instead of holding to the truth of who I am in Christ, I took that fiery dart right to my heart. Direct hit! My bible study suffered, I was working on Sunday instead of going to church, I started isolating from my friends, and my enemy was circling as I wandered away by myself.

But GOD . . . two of my favorite words.

You see, I believed the lie that I was alone in my battles. Unfortunately, that’s a leftover piece of my past that I had not surrendered to God. Oh, I know Jesus was with me, but His words were not the ones I was listening to. I had forgotten, when I became a follower of Jesus, there was a whole Body that came with it.

Recently while on vacation, God showed me the truth– I am not alone–and I experienced the power that comes from thousands of people standing in reverential awe of Him. I saw a church that was hot, on fire for the Lord. Out of the blue, so I thought, I was invited to attend a Monday night prayer meeting at my niece’s church. I’ve been to prayer meetings before but never one like this. There were over 2,000 people in attendance. It was standing room only. On a Monday night! Just being in the presence of that many praising believers recharged my spirit. Everyone had their hands raised singing with everything their heart had to give. Over 1,000 men came forward as the pastor prayed over them and had them vow to become the spiritual leaders in their homes. I felt like Ezekiel who witnessed the raising of the bones. The breath of God was breathed into this woman’s dry soul. I saw warriors being outfitted for battle. They raised the sword of truth and took back any ground the enemy had stolen from their homes.

For the second part of my time away, I attended a women’s conference that happened to be on the topic of battling the enemy! One of the teachers made a statement that jumped out at me: “Together is very important to God.” TOGETHER. Not ALONE. TOGETHER. There are so many verses in the bible that support this (Eccl 4:9-12 comes instantly to mind). So, I need to remember the family of believers. I need to pray for them to be strong trusting they are praying for me. We can fight the enemy TOGETHER with God as we stand firm in the faith. I reiterate:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

There again, thousands of women were being called to worship our great God. For just a moment in time, I was able to glimpse what it will be like when all the saints assemble to worship Jesus. Revelation has foretold of this great event. What a glorious day that will be!

Lord, even in my weakness you heard my cry for help. You came to my rescue. You lovingly revealed those places of darkness I’ve hidden and offered to take them from me. I feel the strength that comes from unity with the family of believers. I confess I forget that resource and I ask you to help me always remember. I know others are struggling with the “same kind of sufferings” and I humbly offer to be used to breath life, your life, into them as you breathed into mine. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Ezekiel 33-36; 1 Peter 4

For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places (Ezekiel 34:11-12 ESV)

The shepherd and sheep analogy shows the beauty of God’s commitment to us as believers. In the Old Testament God used it often in talking to the nation of Israel, and he renews this image in speaking to believers in the New Testament.

He will seek us out. He will rescue us, no matter where we find ourselves.

What a comfort, what unsearchable love.

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)

But, he doesn’t just stop there in keeping us physically safe, His concern is for our eternal soul. He makes us new. New heart, new spirit. He enables us to follow Him, something we could not do out of our old nature.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 4:8-11 ESV)

Peter takes our faith a step further with this litany of directives:

  • Love
  • Host
  • Serve
  • Glorify

The New Testament proves time and again that following Christ is not about following a list of rules, but of being in Christ, of following in His footsteps, constantly seeking to model our lives after His holiness.

Father God, my loving Shepherd, thank you for guarding and protecting me. Thank you for renewing me when on my own everything was hopeless. Thank you for setting a high standard for me to follow each day of my life. Give my strength and boldness to follow without fear. In Jesus Name, Amen

Erin (6intow)

 

 

 

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Daniel 3-4; Psalm 81 & 1 Peter 3

We all know the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. How they would not bow down to the gold statue that King  Nebuchadnezzar had built for all to worship. I’m wondering if the Apostle Peter had them in mind when he wrote part of 1 Peter 3…

15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:15&16 [CSB])

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not confrontational, but with gentleness and confidence defended our faith and were ready to die for it and many have died for the sake of the gospel over the millennia. In the 1 Peter 3 context it’s not death his readers were facing, but punishment and perhaps prison. For us it would be discrimination and ridicule. A far cry from burning alive in a fiery furnace. How do you give an answer for the hope of the gospel you have? It does beg another question doesn’t it? The Apostle Peter is assuming we know enough of the gospel to be able to share it when the opportunity comes our way. How are you at being able to share the hope you have? Can you share the hope of the gospel with others when asked? Today may be a good one to start learning.

Holy Father when the time comes please give us boldness with gentleness to be able to share the gospel with those that ask. We pray for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who when doing so will face prison or even death. Help us to think of them when the opportunity comes for us to share. We love you Lord.

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Daniel 1-2; 1 Peter 2; Psalm 87

I am reminded of God’s sovereignty.

  • King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. (Daniel 1:1b-2, NLT, emphasis added)
  • 17 God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams. (Daniel 1:17, NLT)
  • 27 Daniel replied, “There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king’s secret. 28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed. 29 “While Your Majesty was sleeping, you dreamed about coming events. He who reveals secrets has shown you what is going to happen. 30 And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart. (Daniel 2:27-29, NLT)
  • 44 “During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever. (Daniel 2:44, NLT)

I am reminded of God’s sovereignty when … it seems an enemy is victorious … one finds himself in impossible situations … God might be the last thing on one’s mind, and (He) will shake one from his sleep to reach and reveal his heart …

There is nothing God can’t do and no one He can’t use. He equips the ones He calls, even and especially in impossible situations.

I read on and take special note–I get to choose. From what I will eat …

But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. (Daniel 1:8, NLT)

… to what I will think or do …

So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. (1 Peter 2:1, NLT)

May I never forget Whose I am.

… you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. (1 Peter 2:5, NLT)

… you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9b, NLT)

15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 17 Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. (1 Peter 2:15-17, NLT)

May I never forget Who I follow.

21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Lamentations 3-5; Haggai; 1 Peter 1

I am amazed watching young people in their spiritual growth and at the same time I can cringe at what they can come up with to do or say that would put into question if there is any spirituality in them at all.

One thing for certain, especially with my children, I tried to put into them the importance of walking with Jesus everyday.

It is good for a man that he bear
    the yoke in his youth. – Lamentation 3:27  ESV

When I walk with Jesus the outcome of my salvation is not in question. I do not lack in desire to live a life according to the call before me. Unfortunately, if I walk in the faith only because of my profession of faith I miss out on the fact that Christianity is life in God. There is only one way the world can know that I am Christ’s – it is not in how I handle grief, it is not how passionate I am to confess my sin, it is not the thrill of first love or of glad emotions – it is because I obey Jesus. This is the true outcome of salvation – I walk with Jesus.

Should I walk away from Him and disobey Him, then God will step in to get my attention and I pray that He always will.

You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.  Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce.  And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors. – Haggai 1:9-11  ESV

Getting my attention through my finances is quick and painful. For my hope is not there, it is in Jesus and sometimes I need a wake up call to remember that.

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,  who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. – 1 Peter 1:3-5  ESV

That is where my confidence is – the future is strong and sure. It motivates me and will equip me to be the disciple who engages in good works with the foundation of such being love. It takes away my doubt, even in some very tough times. My hope is a living hope.

Father, I thank You that in my youth You shaped me and formed me to be Yours. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

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