Author Archives: Bethany Harris

About Bethany Harris

Jesus + Cameron + Coffee http://thesurrenderedlife.net

Revelation 10-14

Revelation can be a terrifying book to read and a difficult thing to understand.

However, the one thing I’m always drawn to, fascinated with, and encouraged by is the great and mighty throng that worship God in Heaven. All throughout this book, we see a common thread of worship described in the most beautiful terms.

And even in this passage, in the midst of the suffering and judgement being poured out onto the earth below, those in Heaven are worshiping and praising God Almighty for His power, love, goodness, and justice.

Revelation 11:15 (NIV)

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

“The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.”

This passage makes me so excited for Heaven.

I can’t wait for the salvation that we’ve been promised to finally be fully realized.

I can’t wait for the moment when Jesus finally has complete victory and rule over the earth.

I can’t wait for pain, suffering, and death to be gone.

I can’t wait for the joy of His presence.

And I can’t wait to worship God with millions of others who have been set free by Jesus and are overcome by the love of God.

Oh the love of God. It’s beyond comprehension.

Christmas is but a glimpse.

Easter a glimmer.

Heaven is where we will finally see in full the beautiful masterpiece God has been creating for thousands of years.

And it will be beautiful.

And we will worship.

And He shall reign forevermore.

Father, thank You for your great love in sending Jesus to live in our world, take on our sin, and die our death so that we could one day soon enter into Your Kingdom and live with You forever. Thank You for Your love. Thank You for Your power. Thank You for Your justice. I can’t wait to worship You in Your home, as You sit on upon Your throne in victory, but in the meantime, I will worship You here and now as You give me glimpses of the great joy that awaits me in Heaven with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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Filed under 66 Books, New Testament, Revelation

Job 19-22; 1 John 5

1 John 5:1-5 (NIV)

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

This chapter challenges me in so many ways. As I read through it, so many questions fill my heart and my mind.

Am I loving God’s children? It’s so easy to become frustrated and irritated with fellow believers due to various wrong expectations and selfish motives. Here I must ask myself, am I showing my brothers and sisters in Christ love through patience, kindness, and prayer? Am I showing that I love them in the way that I speak of them and with them?

Am I loving God? The evidence of my love for God is in my obedience. Am I choosing to do the right thing at the right time regardless of how I feel? Am I making my relationship with God a priority through prayer and study? Am I interacting with others in a way that glorifies God? Am I sharing His good news with those around me? Am I walking in integrity, honesty, and proving myself to be His child in what I say and do?

Are God’s commands burdensome to me? Or do I recognize the benefit of obedience and find joy in serving Him even when I find it challenging? Do I complain when I must love others? Do I get angry and resentful when God asks me to serve? Am I hiding from sharing Him with others because I’m afraid of what they will think of me?

 Am I overcoming the world, or is the world overcoming me? Have I let myself become fixated on myself and the world around me? Or has my relationship with God empowered me to walk in victory over my own sinful desires and the temptations of the world around me? Am I walking by faith or by sight?

Far too often I catch myself walking by sight, burdened by the things God asks of me, fearful of the cost of obedience, and as a result, failing in love towards others and, ultimately, God.

I especially find myself struggling during the holiday season. There’s so much going on, so much to do, so many obligations and demands on my time and attention, that I often catch myself trying to live on “cruise control” when it comes to my relationship with God. But when I fail to make my relationship with God a daily priority, everything else in my life begins to breakdown. His commands become burdensome, people become obstacles, and I find myself overcome by fear, insecurity, and the circumstances of the moment.

I know that if I want to walk in victory, I must be deliberate in my love toward God. As I make spending time with Him a priority, everything else begins to fall into place. People become opportunities. Things that were cause for fear are now material for hope. Irritating circumstances become a launching pad for prayer and dependence on God’s grace. And my life becomes much more victorious, not just in the big moments, but in the everyday moments that fill my day.

Father, forgive me for letting the world around me overcome me and overshadow my relationship with You. Forgive me for walking by sight instead of faith, fear instead of love, and obligation instead of relationship. I choose to make You my priority. Renew my love and passion for You, and let it overflow into my relationships and into my perspective of the world around me and the circumstances you place in front me. Help me to honor you by walking by faith in every moment, choosing love over annoyance, peace over fear, and joy over anxiety. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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Filed under 1 John, 66 Books, New Testament

Nehemiah 7-9; John 17

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

I love Thanksgiving. I love the food, of course. I love the family all around. And I love having a day designated to reflect and remember the previous year and all that God has done for me.

This passage in Nehemiah fits so perfectly with Thanksgiving. It’s all about remembering. It’s all about recounting. And it’s all about repenting.

It takes place right after the great victory of finishing the repairs of the wall. The people are celebrating by reading God’s word and feasting! But then came the time of repenting and mourning over their failures.

In chapter 9, the Levites cry out to God, recounting all that God had done for them from the very beginning.

You made the heavens… You chose Abram…. You kept your promise… You saw our suffering… You heard our cries… You divided the seas… You led us day and night… You came down and spoke… In our hunger, you fed us… In our thirst you gave us water… You gave us the land…

But then…

We rebelled… We became arrogant… we did not obey… we refused to listen…

But God!

You are forgiving… You are compassionate… You gave your Spirit… You did not withhold… You sustained in the desert… We lacked nothing… We prospered… We were victorious… We reveled in your great goodness…

But then…

We rebelled… We became arrogant… we did not obey… we refused to listen…

And a cycle unfolded. In crisis, they cried out to God. In rest and relief, they rebelled. Even so, God was patient with them. And in this moment, they recognize their failure. They recognize their arrogance. And they recognize God’s righteousness as He was faithful to them even as they were unfaithful to Him. And so they repent. And they ask God for deliverance one more time.

Thanksgiving is all about looking back. And as much as I’d like to be able to say that I look back on the year with only joy and gratitude, I have to admit that there are also moments spread throughout the year where I did not act in a way that honored God. I can see times when I gave in to discouragement and failed to believe His promises. I recall moments of failure that followed success.

When I look back, it’s easy to see God’s hand in every situation. But when I was in the moment, I admit I didn’t always choose to see God’s hand in every situation. Far too often I gave in to fear. And I still catch myself doing that, even after seeing God come through for me every time.

So as I look back over the year, I see some great things God has done. But I also can recognize the not-so-great things I’ve done, and it gives me an opportunity not just to be grateful, but to be humbly repentant as I move forward into the new year to come with fresh vision and fresh goals, letting God lead me step by step into the freedom He has for me.

Father, thank you for your great kindness and patience towards me. Forgive me for not believing you. Forgive me for forgetting all the things you’ve done for me. Forgive me for taking you for granted. Help me to live in constant awareness of your love and goodness so that I can experience the freedom you have for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Filed under Nehemiah, Old Testament

Zech. 5-7; John 7; Ps. 126

Psalm 126 (NIV)

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,

we were like those who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,

our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

3 The Lord has done great things for us,

and we are filled with joy.

 

4 Restore our fortunes, Lord,

like streams in the Negev.

5 Those who sow with tears

will reap with songs of joy.

6 Those who go out weeping,

carrying seed to sow,

will return with songs of joy,

carrying sheaves with them.

 

What a beautiful passage! This song was a long time coming. The exiles were finally returning from captivity and they were overjoyed at God’s deliverance.

But they weren’t always this joyful. In fact, while the psalm begins with rejoicing, the last half reminds us of what it took to get there: sorrow. There were tears and weeping. There was strife. There was pain.

But that suffering was not the end of their story! And it’s not the end of ours, either.

Though we walk through valleys, they are simply the way we must take to reach the mountain top. One day we will reach that victory. One day we will experience that deliverance. One day we will experience that joy.

In the midst of sorrow, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and fearful. But in this passage I’m reminded that God never ends a story in pain. He only uses the pain to bring greater healing, greater joy, and an exceedingly great reward.

Those who sow in tears WILL reap with songs of joy.

Those who go out weeping, WILL return with songs of joy.

It’s not an “if.”

It is a promise.

It is coming.

It’s on its way.

And all will see how Great God is when He delivers us from our sorrow and pain!

I once heard it said that the only thing harder than waiting on God is wishing you had.

Instead of focusing on the pain and suffering, I will choose to focus on the promise of deliverance and joy. I choose to live in hope. I choose to live in faith. Deliverance is coming. It may not look like I expect, or come when I expect, but it IS coming and it WILL be good.

Eventually, we will each receive the promise and be able to join in with the others who’ve gone before us in saying, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!”

 

Father, thank You for the incredible encouragement You offer through Your word. Thank You for Your promise that You will not leave things undone. Thank You for working good out of bad, and for trading tears for songs of joy. Help me to wait for Your deliverance so that some day soon I can stand and proclaim Your power in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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Filed under Old Testament, Psalms

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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Filed under Ezekiel, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Ezekiel 31-32; James 2

James 2:14-24 (NIV)

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

 

Faith requires action.

It’s easy to say I believe something. But it’s not always easy to prove it.

I once heard someone say that a faith that costs you nothing is not faith at all.

Here in James 2 we read of the importance of putting action into our faith. As an illustration, we are reminded of Abraham’s faith, when he carried his son to the altar to sacrifice to God. While he did not physically sacrifice him, Abraham proved his faith in God by surrendering his son to God’s will, whatever that may look like, believing that God was good, God loved him, and that God would keep His promise to Abraham. But this was not an easy journey for Abraham – it took him decades to learn this kind of faith.

But what about me? What does my faith look like? Do my actions match my speech?

It’s easy to say I believe God loves me. But am I living as though I am confident of His acceptance?

It’s easy to say I believe God is good. But when bad things happen, am I choosing to “trust and obey” until I see that goodness?

It’s easy to say God answers prayer. But is prayer my first response when I am in need?

It’s easy to say I love my neighbor. But am I actually encouraging, strengthening, and providing for them as opportunities arise?

It’s easy to say I care about the lost. But when was the last time I shared God’s hope with someone who does not know Him?

My dad used to say, “Your walk talks and your talk talks but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”

What does my walk say? Does it say I have faith in me, in my own abilities, and in what I feel to be true? Or does my walk show that I have put my trust in God and I believe Him to be who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do?

Faith in myself leads me to be self-centered. If I’m not noticing those around me, if I’m not praying for those I know, if I’m not offering encouragement to those who are hopeless, if I’m not providing for those in need, it is a sign that I’m paying more attention to me than to God.

But when my faith in God is secure, I can trust Him to provide for me. This leads me to be a giver. I can be generous with everyone I encounter and give of them what I have received from God, whether spiritual, emotional, or physical.

 

Father, forgive me for becoming self-consumed and unaware of those around me. Forgive me for not trusting You to provide for me and for becoming overly concerned with my own needs instead of letting you provide for them. Help me to see those around me. Help me to meet the needs of those you place in my path each and every day. Help me to prove my faith by my actions of love and generosity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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Filed under James, New Testament

Jeremiah 50-52; Hebrews 5

There’s so much rich truth for encouragement in Hebrews, and in this chapter.

But there is one short verse that stands out me today.

Hebrews 5:8 (NIV)

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered”

Jesus was undeniably the Son of God.

And yet, He still had to learn obedience.

He still had to learn submission,

He still had to choose to yield His will to His Father’s.

And how did He learn this submission?

Through suffering.

In the midst of His suffering, He choose submission, and that’s when He was made obedient, and therefore, according to verse 9, perfect.

It’s easy to submit to God when His will matches my own.

It’s easy to submit to God when it does not cost me. When it’s easy, pleasurable, and comfortable.

But that’s not where my faith is proven.

My faith, like Jesus’s, is only proved genuine when I choose submission when it costs me – ultimately, it’s proven through my obedience in the midst of suffering,

In the midst of affliction, my flesh cries out and demands obedience. It’s easy to submit to myself in those moments. It’s easy to turn to food, to entertainment, to distraction. It’s easy to turn to self-defense, to anger, and to resentment.

How I respond to suffering reveals what’s truly in my heart, for better or for worse.

When life is easy, I speak easily and freely of the joy of obedience. But when God brings friction into my life, I must make a choice. I can either obey my flesh, or I can learn obedience through submission to God by doing the right thing at the right time, regardless of how I feel.

Thankfully, I’m not alone in this struggle.

Jesus Himself struggled.

And He overcame.

And now He is my high priest, ready to help me, to strengthen me, to comfort me, and to equip me to overcome as He, Himself, did.

What I have discovered is that when I chose obedience to myself in my suffering, things get worse. But when I choose obedience to God, things get better. And not necessarily circumstantially, but internally, as my attitude improves, peace floods my soul, and my actions honor God.

And the greatest thing of all is that when I choose obedience in suffering, I experience a greater, deeper, and richer relationship with God, as I learn how to depend on His strength and not my own.

 

Father, thank You for your patience with me. Thank You for caring enough about me to let me suffer for the sake of my spiritual growth. Thank You for not leaving me alone in the midst of my suffering. Thank You for the comfort of knowing that Jesus, also, suffered, and He is ready and waiting to help me in my trials. Help me to see my afflictions through Your eyes. Help me to prove my faith genuine by submitting to Your will over and above my own. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Filed under Hebrews, New Testament