Author Archives: evanlaar1922

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Have you ever noticed how many special ways God refers to us, His dear children? He calls us His beloved sons and daughters, the righteous, children of the kingdom, His anointed, royal priesthood, the faithful in Christ, His temple, His friends, and so many other loving names that speaks to who we are in Him. Also in many cases, the names we are given at birth have both biblical and heavenly identities tied into them. Our Heavenly Father who watches over us daily has created the ideal path for each of us to take to travel the journey of life, just as a father will make plans for his own child by putting things in place at a very early age for education, health, graduation, and marriage. God has predestined and equipped each of us to carry out a specific purpose that will create the design He desires to be in place for His kingdom to be effective in the earth.

1 Samuel 7,8; Romans 6; Jeremiah 44; Psalm 20,21

Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” – 1 Samuel 7:3 NRSV

If you are like me, a follower of Jesus, then you and I have answered this question of choice and if I am honest – I have to choose everyday and every day I have to choose Jesus.  For me, if I do not, I find myself being okay with certain weaknesses and falling for certain temptations and then declaring them to be in the realm of grace

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? – Romans 6:1 NRSV

The answer is definitely a big NO! So what is my problem, why do I think it is okay?

But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their wickedness and make no offerings to other gods. – Jeremiah 44:5 NRSV

I find my relationship with God falls into a pattern, a grove, a comfortable “method” or “process” and as busy as I am in adoration, confession, thankfulness, and supplication – I miss the most important part of any relationship – listening.  While I have been busy talking, I forget to listen – how does God want to respond to what I have just said or how does He want to engage Himself into my day?  I do not know and maybe I don’t because in some weird moment of time – I might admit that I do not want to know.

I think you know where this is going – throw in some trouble and what do I do? Yes, I call on God. This is where it get’s tricky – I feel that since I did not spend much quality time with Him that I do not deserve to call on Him.  Wow – so simple to get pushed even further away from God.   But I know this – His grace is sufficient and as my Heavenly Father, He cares.  I can always call out His name and He is there.

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
    The name of the God of Jacob protect you! – Psalm 20:1 NRSV

Lord, if I have to forgive others as much as You have forgiven me, that is a whole lot more than 70 x 7!  How thankful I am for your grace, but more thankful that You never allow the Holy Spirit to leave me – I am convicted of my sin and I find my way back to You.  I bless You for Your faithfulness – thank You for Your protection.  I can always count on You.  I pray that my faithfulness will grow as we grow in our relationship together and that I would rather do the things You would like me to do as opposed to the things I want to do for myself.  Thank You for bringing me into Your space and allowing me to be a part of Your family.

evanlaar

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Jeremiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Romans, Uncategorized

Judges 16; Acts 20; Jeremiah 29; Mark 15

Looking at examples in the Bible, I think God is trying to say that it’s okay to go through pain – only He wants to walk through it with us.

Samson is a fine example.  Even though he had failed, God did not leave him.

Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. – Judges 16:30 NRSV

For Paul pain was a way of life and he prophesied the same to us. Only way through it and its the staple of my walk with Jesus is to place my hope in God, counting on His grace as my foundation and my fountain of joy.

 Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God[d]that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.[e]  I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.  Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. – Acts 20:28-30

That is why I struggle with this promise that I still quote from time to time —

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.  When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart,  I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes – Jeremiah 29:11-14

I struggle with it not because it is not true, but because if it is taken out of context it misses the fact that there was 70 years of pain before this promise was realized.

So Jesus’s life has to be the accumulation of all my thoughts.  The cross and Skull Hill represented death, mockery and pain but for me I found there a place of redemption, forgiveness and hope because of Jesus.  What begins in horror and inhumanity, ends in victory and grace.

 Then they brought Jesus[d] to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).  And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.  And they crucified him – Mark 15:22-24

Lord, thank you for your promises, they are true, every last one of them.  While I  journey with You and we might be joined by hurt, may I take comfort that You and others that You have called have already gone before me.  

evanlaar

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Jeremiah, Judges, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Judges 2; Acts 6; Jeremiah 15; Mark 1

I read a book recently called, The Disciple of Joy.  A man obviously called by God to lead in ministry with almost 20,000 coming to Christ, being discipled and following the call of God through baptism.  Unfortunately he did not plan his leadership transition well and when he died, his family argued over the ministry and it fell completely apart.  Reminds me of what happened when Joshua died.

Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and worshiped the Baals;  and they abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; they followed other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were all around them, and bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger.  They abandoned the Lord, and worshiped Baal and the Astartes. – Judges 2:11-13 NRSV

God seemed to have something in mind between the leadership of Peter and Paul.  He introduced Stephen for a very short time.  

What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit – Acts 6:5 NRSV

Stephen reminds me that leadership in the hands of God, even if it is brief, can catapult the gospel to the whole world – giving hope to those that hear – from a leader who is selfless and fearless.    

So why do bad things happen to good leaders – how could others follow God when Stephen was killed?  Amazing for me to see how many people in the Middle East have become Christians when they watch them die for their faith. That did not happen with Jeremiah and if there is one prophet I would not want to be – it would be Jeremiah.  At one point Jeremiah even doubted, just for a moment that God might be a liar because the pain of leadership would not go away.

Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?  Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail. – Jeremiah 15:18  NRSV

So my leadership marks a particular question for me – how does God respond to me?  So I look to God to perform something in my life everyday.  I come like the leper…

A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!”  Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. – Mark 1:40-42 NRSV

Lord, may my life always be marked by repentance and a turning to You.  May I find my strength in Your joy, my hope in Your faithful promises and my forgiveness in Your grace.  You are the one that leads me and I pray that as I follow You, as close as I can, that others may see Your eyes in mine.

evanlaar

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Jeremiah, Judges, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Joshua 7; Psalm 137-138; Jeremiah 1; Matthew 15

How hard is it to understand the hand of God in my life?  How many times to I misunderstand the elements of my life and miss the message that He has for me?  Doubt is my enemy.  I do not take the time to examine my own life as the source of my struggles and instead, begin to wonder if the Lord has changed His mind or I have misread His directions.  I am no different than Joshua after his defeat at Ai.

Joshua said, “Ah, Lord God! Why have you brought this people across the Jordan at all, to hand us over to the Amorites so as to destroy us? Would that we had been content to settle beyond the Jordan! – Joshua 7:7 NRSV

I remember vividly the first time I heard Boney M sing By the Rivers of Babylon. I was sixteen, in Germany visiting my aunt and uncle, alone and missing my family.  My life up until that moment was used to singing songs to God in the middle of the night and crocodile tears were part of my nights ritual.  How many times I thought that God might have forgotten me.

By the rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.  Psalm 137:1 NRSV

This is why God’s Word is so powerful.  God’s call to Jeremiah became my call to intimacy with Him.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5 NRSV

The Canaanite woman’s expression of faith became my model of perseverance and of hope.

“Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” – Matthew 15:27 NRSV

Lord, I thank you for the power of Your Word in my life and for the hope that You give me in the midst of my own doubt as to Your presence in my life and to the purpose You have called me.  Without You my life would be lost.  Thank you for calling me every day to a new walk with You.  Thank you for Your grace that calls me and renews me each day to serve You.  May I offer to You today my life that You may use me to glorify Your name. Amen.

evanlaar

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Jeremiah, Joshua, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Psalms, Uncategorized

Deuteronomy 11; Psalm 95,96; Isaiah 39; Revelation 9

I could spend hours in Deuteronomy 11.  The boundaries are set up, they are simple to follow, do not leave any room for doubt or questions, straightforward and to the point – this is what it looks like to follow Jesus.

 

No one will be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the fear and dread of you on all the land on which you set foot, as he promised you. I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – Deuteronomy 11:25-26

There are secrets to making this all happen.  If you are like me, worship plays an incredible part in my walk with Jesus.  Worship is an act of hope for the one day when Jesus returns – for all of us, creation included – will worship Him together

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it.  Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth.  He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth. – Psalm 96:11-13 NRSV

Shame on me if I am only thinking of myself to be ready for such a day.  Can you imagine Hezekiah being so selfish.  Every king was given the same promise given to David and one by one they failed to be faithful – they chose curses instead of blessings.  Hezekiah was the last opportunity and all he could think was that he would not see the curse in his lifetime.

Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.” – Isaiah 39:8  NRSV

Shame on me if when I find myself slipping away from my walk with God and I do not stop, turn around and run back into the arms of Jesus.  Even when judgement comes, so hard to believe that many of us will not turn back and repent.

 

The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts. – Revelation 9:20-21 NRSV

Lord, may my heart be attentive to Your loving arms around me, may my faith and hope be strengthened by Your blessings and should I find myself leaving Your side for even a moment, my the curses that come my way jar me and make me awake to the fact that somehow we have disconnected.  May I find myself taking a moment each day to repent so that I will always be right with you.  Amen

evanlaar

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Revelation, Uncategorized

Numbers 33; Psalm 78:1-37; Isaiah 25; 1 John 3

Children are so important.  It does not matter what age of the world we look into, children play an incredible role as we see them as a gift to our families.  When I think of the one and final plague in Egypt – the one that finally turned Pharaoh decision – it was the loss of every family’s first born.

They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the passover the Israelites went out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians, while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them. – Numbers 33:3-4 NRSV

Being a Christian Education Coordinator in my church helped me focus on the children and their families.  It was there that I learned how weak our education perspective was compared to other faith traditions.   I spent 17 hours a year with my kids in direct biblical education while the others were closer to 400 and 600 hours.  I lot of that had to do with traditional celebration periods, but still, it was engagement with God’s Word.  So it is no surprise to see this call to action in the Psalms —

He established a decree in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children; that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and rise up and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their ancestors, stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God. – Psalm 78:5-8 NRSV

Here I am today – I am called a child of God.  I know I need to spend time getting to know my Father.  This world is not where my hope lies, it lies with my Him.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he[a] is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. – 1 John 3:1-3 NRSV

My prayer today is similar to the one Isaiah prayed —

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. – Isaiah 25:1

As Your child Lord, I yield myself into Your hands that you may shape me and mold me and then may I be used by You to glorify Your name. Amen.

evanlaar

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Filed under 1 John, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Numbers, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Numbers 19; Psalm 56-57; Isaiah 8-9:7; James 2

Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish and on which no yoke has been laid.  You shall give it to the priest Eleazar, and it shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. Numbers 19:2-3 NRSV

The Old Testament has quite a few rituals recorded there that God demanded as part of His desire to reveal His authority and His holiness.  I could never get a handle on them all but as I got older, not only do I get them, but I under the new covenant I see what we have been given through Jesus.

 

But the Old Testament also gives us promises.  I love those promises – they are hope to me whenever I read them and those hopes are real because of Jesus.

For you have delivered my soul from death, and my feet from falling, so that I may walk before God in the light of life. – Psalm 56:13 NRSV

Even on Sunday morning, as our church started a series on the Apostles Creed – I was reminded that God is the ultimately authority and is holy.  While He is also a generous God who gave us Jesus, and because of Jesus we can call Him, Abba Father, I am to remember that He is my Father and with all the authority and holiness that comes with that.

 

But the Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread – Isaiah 8:13 NRSV

 

So my walk has to be holy too.  I get now why Jesus called us to be perfect and holy.  In the little things, they matter, because God matters and what I believe about God matters. In my fund-raising ministry I might be tempted to favour those with more wealth, but God calls me to obey Him.

 

My brothers and sisters,[a] do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? – James 2:2 NRSV

Lord, I want and need to show my world that deep inside, not just on the outside, I am a follower of Jesus.  I know that when I made the decision to follow You, I invited you to change me from the inside out.  There is no way I want to fake my decision, to act my way through my faith – I want to be real.  I need you Father to help me, I need your strong-arm to guide me and I need your wisdom to teach me.  May those who look on my life say that You really matter to me.  For Your glory and Your honour I pray.  Amen

evanlaar

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