Monthly Archives: November 2020

1 Chronicles 18; James 5; Jonah 2; Luke 7

10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.

James 5:10-11a ESV

When we get lost in the suffering instead of God’s promise we show a lack of patience and an increase of selfishness. If we want our faith to truly go the distance, it must transform every square inch of our souls.

29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

Luke 7:29,30 ESV

The message of the gospel can easily stop not far below the surface of our intellect. We might grab on to the hope of forgiveness, the promise of eternal life, or the feel good story of God’s love for us. All of those require only a perfunctory understanding of sin, Jesus, and redemption.

38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

Luke 7:38 ESV

But, when you allow yourself to be swallowed up by the incredible depth of the gospel message, you discover the true beauty of it. Christ’s imputed righteousness, unconditional forgiveness and justification, mercy beyond logic, a God who knows us and chose to sacrifice on our behalf anyway. When that washes over you, you cannot help but respond.

So many people through history have made the mistake of being satisfied with a surface understanding of God’s message. Jonah, pharisees, me.

This week I realized that I have become quite consistent in my daily quiet time. Each morning I listen to numerous chapters in my bible app. I go through one or two lessons in my current devotional book, and even spend other times each day listening to a sermon, reading an article, or studying God’s Word with other family members. And yet, how often does it really sink in?

This may seem unrelated, but bear with me a moment . . . A couple years ago I realized that my marriage lacked a little of the zip that it had once had. I suppose that was understandable after 24 plus years, but I felt a bit of envy when I heard couples in their fourth or fifth decade talking about how they were “more in love now than ever.” I couldn’t really relate. I mean, I love my husband, have loved him for many years. But, could I say I love him more now than before? I wasn’t so sure.

I started reading some marriage books and looking for ways to express my love and try to nurture it so it would bloom a bit more fully. I came across an interesting challenge to kiss your spouse for 15 seconds everyday. After trying it for a while (since I’m such a box-checking kind of gal), I still wasn’t quite getting it, although it did seem like I was on the right path.

Then I changed my goal. Not just a time span, but an experience. I was looking to get lost in that kiss everyday. Game changer! It didn’t happen overnight, but that habit of trying to get lost in my husband’s arms and lips each day (well, most days . . .) brought us closer together and re-lit something that had gotten a little dimmer over the years. Now, at 27 plus years I can definitely say I am more in love with him now than ever before and each year just keeps getting better.

Okay, back to my relationship with God. I realized this week that my relationship with God was getting a little routine. I love Him, of course. Can never deny all that He has done for me, but does it really get to my heart? If I’m honest, most days, no. My quiet time has become just that. Reading, praying through lists, filling out devotionals, box-checking.

This week, I renewed my effort to “get lost” (which might look different for each of us) in worship and God’s Word each day, and God has showed up in a big way. I don’t wrap up my time with Him until I have seen a truth hit close to home, until I have that moment of God’s word pricking my conscience or sparking my response or rousing my heart in worship.

Those who pay regard to vain idols
    forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
    will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
    Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

Jonah 2:8,9 ESV

Even in this, we can sometimes not fully get it. Jonah clearly had a moment with God while in the belly of the fish. He poured his heart out and confessed, praised, threw himself on God’s mercy, cried out, prayed, gave thanks, and recognized God as his only hope. God heard his heart, and dumped him back on the beach for a second chance. But the next chapters will show that his heart still lacked God’s vision for Ninevah.

Continually pressing into Him needs to be a lifelong endeavor of every Christian.

Lord God, I don’t want to be a Christian out of habit, I want to follow you passionately all of my days. I want an eye so focused on the eternal hope, that the suffering I experience in this world is irrelevant. Everyday relight my fire for You that I may never stop growing and never stop visibly living for You. In Jesus Name ~Amen

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1 Chronicles 15; James 2; Amos 9; Luke 4

So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres.” (1 Chronicles 15:28 ESV) Isn’t that how we are to worship God? We are to express our love for Him through music, our emotions, our heartfelt thanks. We shouldn’t be ashamed to let others know who we feel.

But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith BY my works.” (James 2:18 ESV) Another way we show other whom we love is by how we act and what we do. It is fine and good to tell someone you are a Christian, but if you don’t live like it, it is not believable. Show a non-believer Christ’s love by what you stand for and how you treat people.

Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord, when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, ,and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.” (Amos 9: 13-15 ESV) One day God will make all things new. Our faith will become sight. It will be much easier to live what we believe to be true.

But He said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.'” (Luke 4:43 ESV) Jesus was here to teach the good news about God’s redemption plan while He was here. That is our job until He returns as well. He gave us the great commission to tell others until He comes back to take us Home.

Lord,

Help us all to live our lives in such a way that the world can tell that we belong to You.

Amen, Kellie

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1 Chronicles 13,14; James 1; Amos 8; Luke 3

One acted to protect. Another was stirred to anger and fear. And yet another was blessed. All were participants in a common circumstance.

The whole assembly agreed to this, for the people could see it was the right thing to do. So David summoned all Israel, from the Shihor Brook of Egypt in the south all the way to the town of Lebo-hamath in the north, to join in bringing the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. Then David and all Israel went to Baalah of Judah (also called Kiriath-jearim) to bring back the Ark of God, which bears the name of the Lord who is enthroned between the cherubim. They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from Abinadab’s house. Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart. David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments—lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets. (1 Chronicles 13:4-8, NLT, emphasis added)

David was bringing back the Ark of God. He consulted his advisors and acted under the Lord’s consenting will. It was a joyful procession with an unexpected end.

But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. 10 Then the Lord’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark. So Uzzah died there in the presence of God.

11 David was angry because the Lord’s anger had burst out against Uzzah. He named that place Perez-uzzah (which means “to burst out against Uzzah”), as it is still called today.

12 David was now afraid of God, and he asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of God back into my care?” 13 So David did not move the Ark into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. 14 The Ark of God remained there in Obed-edom’s house for three months, and the Lord blessed the household of Obed-edom and everything he owned. (1 Chronicles 13:9-14, NLT, emphasis added)

Some of my joyful starts have had unexpected ends. I have been powerless to protect things and people I treasure. I have been confused, wounded, disheartened by the unfolding of events–and some of these have taken years to recover from. I have been blessed beyond thought in seasons where I never expected it.

But I think on this–a common cause and three different perspectives, three different consequences–but one singular thing. Each man assigned his own narrative to it.

I don’t know what sparked Uzzah’s action: Certainly he was chosen to help carry the Ark because he was competent, responsible, and trustworthy. Were his actions instantaneous with no thought but to be helpful? Did he act because he thought David would be furious if the Ark fell? Was he protective of the impression of God, to save Him from a dishonor or embarrassment of a fallen Ark? All motivations seem reasonable. Whatever it was, Uzzah’s action was out of line, crossing a boundary of what the Lord required or expected of him, regardless of his intention or his credentials. It cost him a price. Lord, please be my guide. Give me wisdom and discernment. Keep me from butting into circumstances that are not my place to intervene. Your ways are higher than mine.

David was angry and afraid. The God he loved had acted in a way David didn’t expect, and he felt all the feelings. He didn’t understand. David was trying to do the right thing, and it went horribly wrong. This was not the happy ending of a joyful journey he had envisioned. His desire to honor God was marked by tragedy. Lord, when I struggle with expectation versus reality, help me to sort through all the feelings in a right way. Your ways are higher than mine.

An unexpected detour. When A to B takes a turn, the Ark is redirected to Obed-edom’s home for a time. In His presence, they are blessed. Lord, help me to be obedient when the unexpected happens. I pray to be aware of Your presence in all circumstances, confident in You and Your Will. You are my source of joy and peace, and I’m glad Your ways are higher than mine.

Courtney (66books365)

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. (James 1:2-6a, NLT)

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1 Chronicles 11-12; Hebrews 13; Amos 7; Luke 2

I have been challenged to pray for many things today. Prayer is what is in the background, the foundation, of what others see in my action, my character.

David grew stronger and stronger, because the Lord Almighty was with him. – 1 Chronicles 11:9 GNT

Others may see me strong but it is only because I walk with God and He with me.

Issachar: 200 leaders, together with the men under their command (these leaders knew what Israel should do and the best time to do it). – 1 Chronicles 12:32 GNT

I want to be seen as a leader – someone who knows what should be done and the best time to do it. I pray for this to be part of my life.

Even so, I cannot forgot about the greatest power of all – love.

Keep on loving one another as Christians. Hebrews 13:1 GNT

While I was still a sinner, God love me and sent Jesus to take my place when it came to being punished for my sins. I pray to extend the same grace that I have been given.

I love the opportunity of praying for I know that I have been invited to participate in the plans of God.

In my vision I saw the locusts eat up every green thing in the land, and then I said, “Sovereign Lord, forgive your people! How can they survive? They are so small and weak!”

The Lord changed his mind and said, “What you saw will not take place.” – Amos 7:2-3 GNT

What if I did not pray or did not pray with passion? So much rests on me praying.

Anna would have agreed on this.

There was a very old prophet, a widow named Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She had been married for only seven years and was now eighty-four years old.[a] She never left the Temple; day and night she worshiped God, fasting and praying. – Luke 2:36-37 GNT

What a walk of devotion. A woman who might have had every right to be bitter but even as a very old woman she had not lost hope. I believe, at the end of the day, it was because she was a woman of worship and prayer.

So much to pray about today.

Father, I look forward to our times together. I know the strength that others see in me comes from me spending time with You. I count on You as my leader in order for You to help me lead others as they count on me to know the what and when of things that need to be done. In the business of life, let me never forget to love the body of Christ. Let me never forget that praying matters. Let me walk a life of worshp and prayer so that my life counts and that I may be faithful in my walk with You. Thank You.

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1 Chron.9,10; Heb.12; Amos 6; Luke 1:39-80

“A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting , Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Luke 1:39-45 NLT

I think on Mary and Elizabeth’s friendship. Mary couldn’t wait to tell Elizabeth her news. Mary knew she was a friend who would encourage her and spur her on in her faith. There was no sign of jealously. I can see a deep trust between them. Is this why she hurried to see her? Who are the friends that I can’t wait to tell what God is doing in my life? Or ask to walk with me during hard times?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.” Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT

Who am I running my race with? It’s so easy to isolate myself. To forget that God has called me to be in community with others. Who am I encouraging and building up?

“Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.” Hebrews 12:28 NLT

Dear Father, help me to be like Mary and not hesitate when you call me. Give me strength and courage. Thank you for the friends that you have given me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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