Monthly Archives: January 2020

Genesis 32; Mark 3; Esther 8; Romans 3

And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.

And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.

And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. Mark 3 KJV

In Mark 3, I watch Jesus walk free from fear of man. Completely impervious to it and relentlessly Good. I watch as He Himself is a witness: a witness of the Father, of Truth, of Healing, of Life. I watch Him heal and bring Life when “authorities” were watching to see how they could find reason to destroy Him.

The tradition of man cannot save. It is a good lesson for me. It is only Jesus.

How shocked some must have been when He completely recreates/renames family relationships at the end of Mark 3. I am sometimes a little shocked; I am sometimes a little free as I ponder His words, as I consider what it means to follow Jesus.

32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.

33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?

34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother. Mark 3 ESV

In Mark 3, I watch Jesus bound by the Father not by the fear of man or the traditions of man or the rules of man. I watch Him walk in love and light and life.

Mark 3 illuminates Romans 3. Jesus in the flesh walking out this truth: deeds of the law cannot justify.  Faith alone justifies.

 

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Romans 3 KJV

I ponder hard my own heart. Romans 3 clears the air.

What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Romans 3 KJV

Jew or Greek- our predicament is the same. “There is none righteous, no, not one.”

All are justified freely through faith in Christ.

And this is the only way. It is not through Sabbath observation or rule following. It is not through meticulous honor and respect of authorities and hierarchy.  It is only through Christ. And I heed the warning calling to my heart, and the warning is to walk in the Spirit by faith in Christ alone. This is a humble posture; it is a dependent position; it is a faith-filled heart walk. The warning for me is that I need Jesus to rescue me from myself so that I do not remain as a blind one who cannot see; as a hardened one who is deceived to think that Good is Evil as Mark 3 so carefully reveals.

Lord, it is good to recognize that Your Spirit is Truth. It is good to ponder that redemption is found in You alone- not in deeds, not in heritage, not in culture, not in religious rule following, but in You. I pray You help me learn from Your words and walk with You. Please help me live for You and know clearly what that means for me personally. Thank You for this life You have given me. Let me know You in it, Lord- and know I am not alone. In Your Name, Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Genesis 31; Mark 2; Esther 7; Romans 2

For I have seen how Laban has treated you. (Genesis 31:12b, NLT)

This is the God who holds me. He is loving. He is just. He is generous. He is good.

He sees past an outward infirmity and goes straight for the heart.

Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Mark 2:8-11, NLT)

He enters places others deem themselves too good for, and he ministers to the sick–but by outward appearance he dines with sinners.

17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Mark 2:17, NLT)

Pharisees distance themselves. Their self-righteousness puffs them up as better than others. They miss the point.

In God’s goodness, he gives me guidance and provision. He gives me rest.

27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” (Mark 2:27-28, NLT)

In Esther, Haman’s wickedness is revealed; and in Romans, Paul addresses sin and hypocrisy.

All of these chapters today are rich and full–a feast for my heart. I grab words for a first course, and then return for more. But there is no rush at this table. He invites me to dine, sits with me too. Calls me daughter.

He hands me a rock and asks what I will do.

Some people throw rocks in judgment or punishment. Some people use rocks to build a boundary. Some people raise rocks as a monument. And others proclaim a covenant over them.

45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a monument. 46 Then he told his family members, “Gather some stones.” So they gathered stones and piled them in a heap. Then Jacob and Laban sat down beside the pile of stones to eat a covenant meal. 47 To commemorate the event, Laban called the place Jegar-sahadutha (which means “witness pile” in Aramaic), and Jacob called it Galeed (which means “witness pile” in Hebrew).

48 Then Laban declared, “This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today.” This explains why it was called Galeed—“Witness Pile.” 49 But it was also called Mizpah (which means “watchtower”), for Laban said, “May the Lord keep watch between us to make sure that we keep this covenant when we are out of each other’s sight. 50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you marry other wives, God will see it even if no one else does. He is a witness to this covenant between us.

51 “See this pile of stones,” Laban continued, “and see this monument I have set between us. 52 They stand between us as witnesses of our vows. I will never pass this pile of stones to harm you, and you must never pass these stones or this monument to harm me. 53 I call on the God of our ancestors—the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of my grandfather Nahor—to serve as a judge between us.” (Genesis 31:45-53, NLT)

Father God, you give me choice. You hand me this rock as a gift. How I love you for your guidance, your grace and your great mercy.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 30; Mark 1; Esther 6; Romans 1

Then God remembered Rachel; he answered her prayer and made it possible for her to have children. – Genesis 30:22 GNT

I believe that God is faithful even when I am unfaithful. I believe He draws me close when I feel discouraged.

I know this to be true for even Jesus needed to pray.

Very early the next morning, long before daylight, Jesus got up and left the house. He went out of town to a lonely place, where he prayed. – Mark 1:35 GNT

It dawned on me that Jesus prayed – He was God. It dawned on me that Jesus valued the relationship with God the Father more than anything else. He delighted on spending time with Him. They enjoyed spending time together – talking. It is what makes for a good healthy relationship.

I believe that my pride deceives me on this very issue. I read of a man who had no need to pray – Haman. He is such a man that illustrates the deceitfulness of my own heart which appears as conceit I have of myself and my own performances. These things would jump out at me if I was watching and praying. Imagine thinking that I was loved and valued and then finding that love and value was given to another?

It is with a thankful heart that God’s grace is towards me, even though I was dead in my sins. I was brought near to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As to his divine holiness, he was shown with great power to be the Son of God by being raised from death. – Romans 1:4 GNT

Father, I come to You believing that You are prepared and willing to answer my prayer, even if that prayer is only a sigh. Jesus, thank you for modelling prayer and for encouraging me to have a relationship with You just as You had one with Your Father. Father, when I look at how black my heart is with pride and conceit in who I think I am, I am sickened to realise how much I am not like You. Thank You Jesus for coming, dying, were buried and yet through the power of the Holy Spirit You were raised from the dead so that I can be set free from those very chains that kept me from You. It is with a light heart and a glad and full cup, that my joy in You is seen in my life. I bless You for walking with me and allowing me to walk with You. May I never find myself taking You for granted. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

 

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Genesis 29; Matthew 28; Esther 5; Acts 28

“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.  His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.  The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.  Then the angel spoke to the women.  “Don’t be afraid!” he said.  “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.  Come, see where his body was lying.  And now, go quickly and tell the disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee.  You will see him there.  Remember what I have told you.”  The women ran quickly from the tomb.  They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message.  And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them.  And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.  Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him-but some of them doubted!  Matthew 28 1-10, 16 NLT

My word for the year is Presence…intentionally seeking God’s presence, so that it overflows into the rest of my life.  The presence of the Angel at the tomb was enough for the women to believe. But, some of the disciples doubted, even after seeing Jesus.  I’m reading a book with my bible study called  Twelve Ordinary Men, by John McArthur.  He writes about how human the disciples were.  He says, “That’s because they were perfectly ordinary men in every way.  Not one of them was renowned for scholarship or great erudtion.  They had no track record of as orators or theologians.  In fact, they were outsiders as far as the religious establishment of Jesus’ day was concerned.  They were not outstanding because of any natural talents or intellectual abilities.  On the contrary, they were all prone to mistakes, misstatements, wrong attitudes, lapses of faith, and bitter failure.” They were just like me.  How often have I worshipped and had God reveal something to me and than doubt enters my mind?

“They left with this final word from Paul: “The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaish the prophet, ‘Go and say to this people: When you hear what I say, you will not understand.  When you see what I do, you will not comprehend.  For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannoth hear, and their hearts cannoth understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.” Acts 28:25-27 NLT

Am I listening to the Holy Spirit?  Or is my heart hardened?

Dear Father, I want to be like both Marys and run to you, lay at your feet, and worship you.  Forgive me when I run to lesser things.  I want to be filled with renewed joy of your resurrection power.  Thank you that you are always with me.  Amen.

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Gen. 28; Matt. 27; Esther 4; Acts 27

“When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:12-14, NIV
Photo by Mandy Baldwin

I have never done something that saved a nation. I haven’t been on the news or written about in the papers. Most of Indianapolis has never heard of me. I have never been confronted with the potentially life-threatening decision that was put before Esther. I can’t imagine the internal turmoil she experienced.

I wonder if we are so busy looking for our nation saving opportunity that we miss our life changing opportunities.

I have read and re-read the quote by Mordecai so many times in my life. I wondered and dreamed about what my “such a time as this” could be and would be. I’ve struggled with the smallness of my influence. How will I save a nation when I’m not known…when I’m not heard?

But what if my “such a time as this” is how I treat others I see everyday? How I interact with those I don’t know? How I come alongside those who have no one? How I show up for the unknown? I have been challenged by my God to show up in the lives of people who don’t have anyone to show up for them.

What would happen if we all showed up in that way? I am not saving a nation like Esther but I get to love a life that God has called me to love. If we all did that…could we save a nation? If we all answered the “such a time as this” call together, what could happen?

Dear Father, please open our eyes to your work and your call. May we not be so focused on the big work that we miss the many small works that change lives and then change the world. Father, it is not our work or our love but yours. Compel our hearts. Thank you for using us. To you be the glory. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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Genesis 25; Esther 1; Matthew 24; Acts 24

Ten year old boys get together to play.  One instigates playing aggressively then when things get out of hand, accuses the other boys of hurting him.  In reality he started it and he lied about it to save face.  He didn’t really care about his “friends.”

“Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted.  And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!’  (Therefore his name was called Edom.)  Jacob said, ‘Sell me your birthright now..”  Esau said, ‘I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?’  Jacob said, ‘Swear to me now.’  So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.  Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way.  Thus Esau despised his birthright.” (Genesis 25: 29-34)

How foolish was Esau?  He was going to die because he was hungry?  Obviously his birthright meant nothing to him.

If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she.  So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.” (Esther 1: 19-20 ESV)

The queen made a mistake.  It was used as an example to all of what not to do.

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44 ESV)

Don’t spend your time hanging out with those who make bad choices.  Focus on doing the right thing and the Heaven that’s yet to come.

Knowing that for many years you have been judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense.  You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city.  Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me.  But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.  So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.  Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings.  While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult.  But some Jews from Asia- they ought to be here before you and to make accusation, should they have anything against me.  Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: ‘It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.” (Acts 24: 10-21 ESV)

Paul was on trial, defending himself for being accused of something he did not do.  The ten year old boys who were accused had to defend themselves too.  Life is hard sometimes.  The lesson is to keep walking like God would want you to walk.  And when all evidence is given its proper light, justice will prevail.

Lord,

Help us be examples to both young and old of how to handle conflict.  Help us to always handle situations with integrity so that when we have to give an account for what really happened, the truth will shine through.

Amen

 

 

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Genesis 24; Matthew. 23; Nehemiah 13; Acts 23

Genesis prayer. A servant is tasked with a quest–to find a wife for Isaac. I am amused at his prayer for guidance, only because I see my own appeals to God to have things look the way I want them to so that I know I’m headed in the right direction. I love that his prayer was answered before he even finished praying. Lord, help me to see you in the solution and direction, even if it doesn’t look familiar or the way I imagined. (God hears me.)

12 “O Lord, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. 13 See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. 14 This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.”

15 Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. (Genesis 24:12-15, NLT, emphasis added)

Matthew conviction. Jesus confronts the Pharisees–who hold more to their rules for appearance than to obedience of heart. Dear God, help me to examine myself to be free of ways that offend you and to delight in that which you delight. (God shows me my errors to set me straight, because of his great love and mercy.)

Nehemiah purge and restore. Systems gone wrong. Identifying problems and setting things right again. My own focus on simplifying physically, and setting right emotionally–aligning my heart and abiding in Christ, clearing out physically and spiritually. Purge. Restore. (God gives me eyes to see and strength to change–to redirect or purge those things and actions that distract and lead astray. He gives me vision and strength.)

30 So I purged out everything foreign and assigned tasks to the priests and Levites, making certain that each knew his work. 31 I also made sure that the supply of wood for the altar and the first portions of the harvest were brought at the proper times.

Remember this in my favor, O my God. (Nehemiah 13:30-31, NLT)

Acts protection and purpose. Paul finds himself in the middle of a fight whose focus changes on a whim. His life is in danger. The Lord appears, encourages, protects him for a purpose. The Lord’s purpose will prevail. (I can find myself in a battle and in his will, and he will not abandon me. He sees me. He encourages me. He protects me. He provides.)

11 That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.” (Acts 23:11, NLT)

Thank you, God, that you hear my prayers and your answer paves a way ahead of me. You love me so much to warn me from traveling harmful paths and taking others with me (I set you as a seal upon my heart). You show me the corruption and error of old ways and that they can be purged and focus restored. You remind me that no matter the battle around me, I am kept by you, protected, valued, for a purpose and for your glory.

Courtney (66books365)

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