Monthly Archives: September 2020

1 Kings 2; Galatians 6; Ezekiel 33; Psalm 81-82

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians 6:7-10 NIV

Some days I have to dig deep. The Lord doesn’t speak in obvious ways. He doesn’t give tangible signs that reassure me He is here. How bad do I want it, this gift of eternal life? Let me rest in Your peace, Lord. Let me seek you in the quiet. This is what will refresh me to keep doing good in Your Name.

When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.

“I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’ – 1 Kings 2:1-4 NIV

What will be my legacy when it is time to leave this world? Walking in the Lord’s Way, I hope to set an example for my children that will live on, to give encouragement by example and in word. Some days certainly better than others. Calling them and others on to be the best version of themselves is true love for them.

My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. “When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.” -Ezekiel 33:31-33 NIV

Make my efforts and words be true to You, Lord, my motives pure and holy.

Defend the weak and the fatherless;
    uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked. – Psalm 82:3-4 NIV

There are so many superheroes in this world that give help to those in need. The coaches, the spiritual advisors, the teachers, social workers. They are nothing short of incredible. Giving the gift of time is the most precious of all. The movie Incredibles is one of my favorites. Each member of the family has their superpowers that can be called on when needed. Every situation needs a unique set of gifts, a different individual, to bring about the victory.

While I may not have the skills to save all, Lord, give me the eyes to see who needs my help and the gift of my time today. Amen.


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1 Kings 1; Galatians 5; Ezekiel 32; Psalm 80

Restore us, O God;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved. (Ps 80:3)

Restore us, God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved. (Ps. 80:7)

Restore us, Lord God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved. (Ps. 80:19)

The Israelites were under attack once more and about to be overtaken by a foreign enemy. They had not obeyed the Lord, they worshipped false gods, and about to suffer what God warned them would happen. As the psalm progresses, I found it interesting how the pleas had changed. I could feel the urgency of the request growing—almost as if God’s place in the writer’s heart was being restored. I know there are times I need God, but I think I only half need him because in my mind I’ve really got everything under control. My prayers certainly reflect that attitude. Then there are times I REALLY need God. Only his sovereign power can intervene. As I pour out my heart to him, I am overwhelmed by the great need I have for him. I think this writer was working through the realization of what was about to happen and called upon the strength of the LORD God Almighty.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1)

God never meant for us to be enslaved. It was not until sin came into the picture that humanity suffered bondage. We have looked to other things to satisfy the longing only God can fill in us. Those “things” entrap us. Our enemy uses them against us in our weakness. In my own power, I cannot overcome them. When I stand firm, yoked to Jesus, I am not left to my own devices. I cannot wander from him. I don’t have to go through anything alone. Because of Jesus, I am no longer under the Law. His death on the cross and my belief in him has saved me. He paid the price I could never pay.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

From a heart of love and knowledge of God’s grace and forgiveness, I can choose to love and serve others. It is not always easy for my sinful flesh to do this. I don’t always want to love my neighbor. My flesh has ugly thoughts sometimes. I admit I sometimes serve out of sheer obedience and not with a cheerful heart. But it amazes me how my heart follows my actions. When I take “self” out of the picture and allow God to work through me, it changes everything. Something I thought I would hate becomes something that fills me with joy because I could feel God’s pleasure in me.

I have learned that freedom comes with boundaries. God sets those boundaries for us. The Israelites pushed beyond those boundaries God set and suffered the consequences. God heard their cries and came to their rescue. He does the same for me. I have suffered the consequences of my actions and see them now as teaching moments—though I admit I didn’t at the time! Even in those times, I can look back and see his goodness, his lovingkindness towards me, and how he only wants what is best for me.

Oh Lord, my journey with you has been such an adventure. You have taught me so much, and continue to do so through your word, through the teachings of others, and through life experiences. How many times have I learned to do it right because I am such a stiff-necked child and did what I wanted to do, and you let me fall? Yet, every time, you gently pick me up and give me an opportunity to try again. Thank you, Lord, for the freedom I find in following you. Thank you, Lord, for the freedom I have from the bondages that weighed me down. I gladly take on the yoke of Jesus. In his name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Samuel 24; Galatians 4; Ezekiel 31; Psalm 79

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Galatians 4:4-6 ESV

We are adopted as God’s children, and with all the beautiful love of a father, He works to discipline and mature us.

More than once God has used 2 Samuel 24 to call me out.

I’m not a military leader, nor do I have the authority of someone in government, but I know full well the temptation to rely on the security of numbers.

  • In ministry, I counted and recounted the volunteers coming to fill spots that never seemed full enough.
  • In budgeting, I figured and refigured the amount we should be saving or putting toward future looming expenses (college, home repairs, car replacements, etc.).
  • In scheduling, I wrote and rewrote lists not wanting a minute to be wasted.

In each scenario, I looked to numbers for security instead of resting in God’s guidance and provision. God made it very clear to David, that trust belongs only in Him. No number can assure success or security, no matter how often we recount, or how big a cushion we try to build.

10 But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”

2 Samuel 24:10 ESV

Immediately, David realized his sin. And, when given three choices, he proves that he truly learned his lesson as he chooses the punishment that leaves him completely at God’s mercy.

14 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.”

2 Samuel 24:14

Sin is not without consequence, but God’s mercy is also just and not excessive. He is firm, but not harsh. I’ve had to learn at His hand as well, and trust His answer when my temptation to count leads me to beg for more when He has already provided enough.

And then, when His hand of discipline stills, we are called to worship. Worship must be a giving up, a pouring out of self. Of who we are and what we are and what we control. Worship peels back our vise-like fingers and dumps it all at His feet. It is expensive.

True worship should cost us everything.

24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

2 Samuel 24:24 ESV

Lord God, I keep trying to figure it all out on my own. I budget and plan and over-strategize, when I really need to trust and spend more time in prayer. Open my eyes to ways I continue to rely on self and the physical world instead of You. Pry off my fingers again that I would not hold back items I value in place of You. I don’t want to hesitate to offer you everything. Every minute, every thought, every plan. Yours. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Erin (6intow)

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2 Samuel 21; Galatians 1; Ezekial 28; Psalm 77

Earlier this week I was pondering a battle in my flesh. Circumstances crashed against me, in some ways, like a wave- and I was sputtering under the foam and mist and all my strength was given to trying to navigate the fury. When all my strength is diverted elsewhere, it is easy for weakness in other areas of life to arise to waylay me. Jesus is my Deliverer. I read Galations 1; I read Psalm 77. I know what it is to be crashed asunder and to try to cry to God for help: for a clear, peaceful mind, for self-control to be faithful and diligent; for focus- and to find myself floundering, greatly. The flesh. It is a battle and one I cannot overcome on my own. Galations 1 points me to Jesus who died to deliver me, utterly.

Galations 1:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. ESV

Decisions have to be made and there are choices ahead in many realms. I find myself considering. Whose approval am I seeking and what do I really need? What is it for me to be single-eyed in my care to please God alone? I am so fallible, and I make so many mistakes in general, and with people. Can I trust God with my human-ness, my weakness, my mistakes and let His love lead me forward? No condemnation. Just gentle steps with my eye on His face toward me. Embraced in His wholehearted love.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant[b] of Christ.

Ezekial 28 speaks to me in a way I ponder and do not know exactly what to make of. Yet, I settle in to trust that it is God’s goodness to dwell securely, to plant, to build, to cultivate a life, a home, a family, a community. God is in the building and He is in the peace. He is my peaceable habitation, if only I can find my way in Him. I have felt contempt at times; I would like to pursue good and dwell securely.

Ezekiel 28:

25 “Thus says the Lord God: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. 26 And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.” ESV

When the waves roil and the foam takes me under, Psalm 77 gives me a pathway forward and out. I need to remember. Speak aloud, write it down, recount the faithfulness, power, and “Ebenezer stones” from the past. When I cannot see what is in front of me, I can cry to God and recount truth: both Scripture (literally) and also His faithfulness in my life. Show me Your faithfulness, Lord. I have known what it is to cry out in weakness, and I have known what it is to give way in weakness. Help me know You through it all and Your redeeming love and power.

Psalm 77:

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.

God, let me praise You as the God who works wonders. Work wonders in my life by Your miraculous Hand. Let me know You in the power of Your perfect peace. I don’t deserve it, Lord. I can’t earn it. It is only through Christ who gave Himself for me. Let me know Your personal, full-hearted love and let me be kept in You. May I be delivered from this present evil age and the desires of my flesh and no what it is to walk in the Spirit, free. Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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2 Samuel 20; 2 Corinthians 13; Ezekiel 27; Psalm 75, 76

This year I’ve worked really hard to examine my actions and my values. Did the one give support and evidence to the other? What guiding principles would help me to support those values? It’s not always so clear. It’s even harder, especially in storms under stress, if you don’t have a plan of action.

Sheba was a known troublemaker. He didn’t work for peace or unity. He passionately moved others to follow his example.

There happened to be a troublemaker there named Sheba son of Bicri, a man from the tribe of Benjamin. Sheba blew a ram’s horn and began to chant:

“Down with the dynasty of David!
    We have no interest in the son of Jesse.
Come on, you men of Israel,
    back to your homes!”

So all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba son of Bicri. But the men of Judah stayed with their king and escorted him from the Jordan River to Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 20:1-2, NLT)

Do I follow the crowd? Do the people in my feeds and in my life lead me closer to the values I want to stand for, or do they lead me away? How do these influencers affect my heart and my choices?

If I’m clear on my values, my purpose, my goal, then perhaps I can save myself collateral damage from passions or impulses.

16 But a wise woman in the town called out to Joab, “Listen to me, Joab. Come over here so I can talk to you.” 17 As he approached, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?”

“I am,” he replied.

So she said, “Listen carefully to your servant.”

“I’m listening,” he said.

18 Then she continued, “There used to be a saying, ‘If you want to settle an argument, ask advice at the town of Abel.’ 19 I am one who is peace loving and faithful in Israel. But you are destroying an important town in Israel. Why do you want to devour what belongs to the Lord?”

20 And Joab replied, “Believe me, I don’t want to devour or destroy your town! 21 That’s not my purpose. All I want is a man named Sheba son of Bicri from the hill country of Ephraim, who has revolted against King David. If you hand over this one man to me, I will leave the town in peace.”

“All right,” the woman replied, “we will throw his head over the wall to you.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off Sheba’s head and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the ram’s horn and called his troops back from the attack. They all returned to their homes, and Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 20:16-22, NLT, emphasis added)

Sheba was a known troublemaker. But this woman of influence is only referenced as wise–and she knows herself as peace loving and faithful. Both she and Sheba have and live by their values, and both will bear fruit (results) by their choices.

But what got me most in today’s readings was the image of Tyre, like a grand and beautiful ship–known, prosperous, elegant, thriving. The reading of it gets better and grander as I follow–with so much going for it, what could go wrong?

26 “But look! Your oarsmen
    have taken you into stormy seas!
A mighty eastern gale
    has wrecked you in the heart of the sea!
27 Everything is lost—
    your riches and wares,
your sailors and pilots,
    your ship builders, merchants, and warriors.
On the day of your ruin,
    everyone on board sinks into the depths of the sea. (Ezekiel 27:26-27, NLT)

Your oarsmen have taken you into stormy seas. It’s important to be aware of what influences me. Is it leading me on a fruitful path or taking me to destruction? Do my friendships really lead me closer to my goals and values? Do my thoughts really support what I value? Do my actions bear good fruit or bad fruit? Are my oarsmen leading me into stormy seas? Be aware.

Paul really wanted to influence the Corinthians for the better. Do I have friends like that–who speak truth, hope, encouragement into my life? If they saw me headed into stormy waters, would stand by and watch me go? Would they be like the oarsmen and hasten my fall? Or would they reason with me because they value the destiny of my heart over their own comfort?

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. As you test yourselves, I hope you will recognize that we have not failed the test of apostolic authority.

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. (2 Corinthians 13:5-9, NLT)

Lord, you send me a brother in Paul through the pages of your word.

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 13:11, NLT)

Father God, I pray to be discerning in my influences–those people and things that feed my thoughts–because I am an influencer too in my home. Help me to get clear on how to support the things I value.

Courtney (66books365)

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