Monthly Archives: November 2020

1Chron.28; 2Pet. 2; Micah 5; Luke 14

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

Have you ever wondered why God would prophesy His coming to earth?

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Micah 5:2

What we know of the times when Jesus came to Earth is that many of the religious leaders were getting it so wrong. They were looking for a conquering hero not a baby in a manger. We have the gift of knowing the whole story…at least the parts that were foretold and then fulfilled in Jesus. We can see clearly what they could not.

What that clarity has taught me is to be careful how I speak for God. The Pharisees willingly spoke on Gods behalf and got a lot of it wrong. They didn’t see…couldn’t see.

What am I not seeing correctly?

I willingly and joyfully speak of Gods goodness and character. I speak of His love and compassion and sacrifice. I speak of Him being my savior and my Lord. I speak of His desire to be in relationship with every single one of His children. I speak of His desire for our obedience because He KNOWS us and what’s best. I am careful, however, of how I speak For Him about others and His will and the future.

We have the gift of knowing how those who went before us got it wrong and the hurt and damage they caused. May we learn. May we pause. May we graciously and mercifully following Gods lead in all things.

Dear God, you have promised wisdom to any who lacks. Good today we crave more of you and your wisdom. May we not throw away the lessons we can learn from the lives of others. May we not arrogantly believe we have it all right. May we humbly walk with You and love like You. Amen

Mandy

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1 Chronicles 23; 1 Peter 4; Micah 2; Luke 11

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,[a] arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4 ESV)

Suffering is a mystery to me. I know that it can be a purging, refining fire. I have been studying the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta lately. As I study and read, I find myself naturally seeking more understanding into suffering and how it relates in the believer’s life. Mother Teresa had an acute understanding of profound human suffering. She also lived totally for the will of God. What does it mean to ‘be with someone’ in their suffering? What does it mean to walk through mine? I realize that I am often quick to minimize or “stuff” areas of life where I might actually be suffering and deny that it is actually a “thing” but I am realizing that Christ wants to be with me in each hard thing. In all of it. Whether I denounce it as too small a hardship to be named as such or not. 1 Peter 4 enthrones Christ; God preeminent above all in and through life- and this is a purpose found in suffering- to be freed from the flesh to be free in Christ.

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. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4 ESV)

Mother Teresa lived a life of love and all that she did was informed by a Great Love that she fully believed was ardently for the particular person directly in front of her. I have also been studying her life with this at the forefront. God’s love is something I ponder often, and desire greatly to grow more fully in outworking in and through my life. I think about what it means to be fully loved and fully known and how I can live into that with the people in my life. I have been trying to think of each small act as love in action. I am not a doer by nature; not at all. I try to serve in God’s love as I am able, remembering that I am loved (not for what I do, THANK the LORD) but for who I am, because He formed me and is forming me, in love. It is from this that I try to flow in my home and family life, with many imperfect, beloved people. How can I be more excellent for Christ and exhibit His love?

The Light in You

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” (Luke 11 ESV)

I just bought battery operated Christmas candles for every window in our house, and I am so so excited to put them in the windows. I can’t wait until they arrive. Light is another metaphor, image, and ideal that I ponder often and speaks deeply to my soul. I want our house to be lit with beauty- beauty that will nestle deep into my children’s hearts and light the neighborhood around us. I have so many deep seated memories pertaining to light and especially Christmas Candle Light. There is a quiet stillness found in a darkened room lit with small golden shine from window candles. I have pondered Christ in the circle of its beauty. I have driven Maryland countryside, way out in the “boonies” heading to the Pennsylvania line- in the winter, when everything is covered in the white sheen of snow. Along the way, houses gleam out window candle light, gold against the white iridescence. The hope that light speaks to me witnesses deep in my soul, with quiet insistence. Mother Teresa says that God is found in interior and exterior stillness. It is in this place of interior stillness, that we can hear His voice (according to her). Never-the-less, Jesus speaks often of light and this passage reflects the need to be utterly light filled and shining out into the world around one.

Lord, let there be beauty and light in and through my life. Let me walk in it more fully. Have mercy on me and keep me from suffering, but when I do, let me find You more fully in and through it. Let me know I am secure and safe in Your love and let me learn to see You in all the hard, however small, in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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1 Chronicles 22; 1 Peter 3; Micah 1; Luke 10

I imagine Jesse’s sons lined up as Samuel walked by looking for the one God had chosen to be anointed. That son was out in a field watching over animals, and he must not have been regarded as a possibility because he wasn’t in the line up. I note that David was not as (comparison: big, strong, handsome) as his brothers. I can only imagine. I think of that boy, David, who had a heroic future ahead of him, so many things God had planned for him. David, who faced off against a giant–a legend. David, who was hunted by a king and an army–not so glamorous.

I imagine in 1 Chronicles 22, David who gathers together tools and supplies for his son to carry out a historic task.

Then David sent for his son Solomon and instructed him to build a Temple for the Lord, the God of Israel. “My son, I wanted to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord my God,” David told him. “But the Lord said to me, ‘You have killed many men in the battles you have fought. And since you have shed so much blood in my sight, you will not be the one to build a Temple to honor my name. But you will have a son who will be a man of peace. I will give him peace with his enemies in all the surrounding lands. His name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign. 10 He is the one who will build a Temple to honor my name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will secure the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’

11 “Now, my son, may the Lord be with you and give you success as you follow his directions in building the Temple of the Lord your God. 12 And may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, that you may obey the Law of the Lord your God as you rule over Israel. 13 For you will be successful if you carefully obey the decrees and regulations that the Lord gave to Israel through Moses. Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or lose heart!” (1 Chronicles 22:6-13, NLT)

It was a job David wanted to complete, but he knew that it was destined for Solomon. I love, that as a father, leader, and visionary, David made the necessary supplies and guidance available for his son. I love that David loved the Lord so much that, although he wouldn’t be the one to complete the job, he did all that he could to contribute to a future he wouldn’t see.

I think long on purpose. I know women who gaze into another’s life and get caught in a comparison trap. Perhaps the Lord equips and provides for each as their purpose requires. How ineffective to covet another’s belongings, status, purpose at even a momentary neglect of your own. A friend was telling me about the encouraging atmosphere she found in a small community and wondered, “Why can’t we all be like that everywhere and build people up?” I think of David, who put his desire to build the temple to better use, to equip and encourage the one who would actually build it.

Jesus infused his followers with purpose.

The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves … “If you enter a town and it welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you. Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’ 10 But if a town refuses to welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘We wipe even the dust of your town from our feet to show that we have abandoned you to your fate. And know this—the Kingdom of God is near!’” (Luke 10:1-3, 8-11, NLT)

Lord, help me to keep my eyes on your kingdom. Help me to keep my focus on the job you have called me to. Let me be one to serve you with my whole heart. I don’t want to be ineffective. I don’t want to miss what you have planned for me. Thank you for giving me this place, this space, this time to honor you and serve you.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Chronicles 21; 1 Peter 2; Jonah 4; Luke 9

So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.” But Joab said, “May the LORD add to his people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?” 1 Chronicles 21:2-3

1 Chronicles 21 begins with David sinning against the LORD by taking a census of Israel. This census stemmed from David’s pride and military ambitions and was not according to God’s command. Jesus dealt with His own disciples’ pride in Luke 9 when an argument arises among them over who is the greatest.

But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” Luke 9: 47-48

Jesus shows the disciples the opposite of pride: childlike humility and servitude.  Instead of being prideful, I should instead serve others with humility, thinking of others over myself.

David had to deal with the consequences of his sin, as God sent a terrible pestilence on Israel, killing many Israelites.

And God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, the LORD saw, and he relented from the calamity. And he said to the angel who was working destruction, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” 1 Chronicles 21: 15-15b

Even though the Lord punished David and his people, He stops His angel from destroying Jerusalem, mercifully sparing all the people of Jerusalem from His wrath.

God’s mercy shines through again in Jonah, as he sends the prophet to warn the Ninevites of their upcoming destruction if they continued their current path. The Ninevites repented and Jonah was furious at God for not destroying them. God responds, however,

And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Jonah 4:11

God asks Jonah why He should not pity Nineveh and offer mercy and a chance to repent. Jesus found Himself in a similar situation with His own disciples when He was not received in Samaria.

And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he [Jesus] turned and rebuked them. Luke 9: 54-55

Dear God, thank You for Your abundant mercy and grace upon me. Help me to have a heart of humility and servitude instead of pride and to thank You for Your grace. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

From the archives. Originally published November 25, 2017.

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1 Chronicles 19, 20; 1 Peter 1; Jonah 3; Luke 8

16 “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. 17 For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.

18 “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” (Luke 8:16-18) NIV

I have known darkness. It is a place I never want to go again. However, it was through that time of darkness I came to understand the power of light. What truth is in that statement: “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.”  

When I first accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was in that place of darkness. I had many dark nights of the soul where the pain was so intense I wasn’t sure I would make it. But I did. I held on to hope. I held on to the hand of Jesus who is Light (John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”)

I had an amazing therapist who helped me find the light. As we uncovered all those “secret places” hidden deep within me, we brought them out to the light. Each time we would offer it to Jesus and his light and truth took away the power it had. The lies held me in darkness, his truth revealed light. I stopped believing who others said I am and started believing who God says I am.  When I truly stop and listen, I hear his truth. We really can find him when we seek him with all our heart (Jer 29:13). The darkness was the worst in the middle of the journey. It was like walking through a long tunnel, I could not see the end. I had to rely on the Spirit to guide me to the Light at the end of the tunnel! Jesus is my light at the end of the tunnel.

I pray to be a reflection of the light and point others to Jesus. What he brought me through, he will do for others. He restores us and redeems the times of darkness. His light cannot be hidden. His light should not be hidden.

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9) NIV

 Heavenly Father, what can I do but sing praises to you for who you are and what you’ve done in my life? You have saved me from that place of darkness; your light shines brightly into the places I opened to you. You have been part of every moment of my life and when I found you in those places of deep, deep pain, they no longer have power. Lord, I am so thankful for the people you sent into my life who have loved me to wholeness by showing me your great love through them. I pray to be that for others. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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