Author Archives: gardnlady

Genesis 19-20; Psalm 1; Mark 7

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. (Psalm 1:6 NLT)

Abraham knew his nephew Lot and his family were living in Sodom. In chapter 18, God tells Abraham he is going to destroy Sodom.  He sends two men who were with him ahead to see if they are as wicked as he has heard.  Abraham asks the Lord if he will save the city for 10 righteous people.  In chapter 19, Lot sees the men as they enter the city and invites them back to his house. The men of the city surrounded Lot’s house and ordered that the men be sent out to them.  He was willing to turn his daughters over to the townsmen in order to spare the men. The remaining text refers to the men as angels.  These angels saved the lives of Lot’s family by rushing them to safety—literally grabbing them and running.

23 Lot reached the village just as the sun was rising over the horizon. 24 Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. 25 He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt. (NLT)

In verse 17, the angels told Lot and his family: “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!” Yet after they were away from danger and in a safe place, Lot’s wife hesitated and turned to look back even after they had been warned not to do so.  Maybe it was nothing more than a wistful glance at a home in which she had spent many years, but when God says no, he means no!

Wow! Haven’t I been guilty of doing the same thing?  There is something about “looking back” that can paralyze us.  I have a similar story in my life.  After praying to God about something, I clearly sensed him telling me “no”.  He was sparing me from danger but I wanted what I wanted.  I did not obey. The pain caused by my choice is an emotional scar I bear to this day.  Even after time had passed and God provided a way out, I turned to look back!  That was just the amount of time needed for the enemy to pounce!  There are always consequences for our actions.  God has since redeemed that choice, but the ripple effects remain to this day in the lives of people I love.

27 Abraham got up early that morning and hurried out to the place where he had stood in the Lord’s presence. 28 He looked out across the plain toward Sodom and Gomorrah and watched as columns of smoke rose from the cities like smoke from a furnace.

29 But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain. Gen 19:23-29 NLT)

Abraham goes and looks at the burning cities. I am sure he is wondering if Lot and his family survived.  Because of Abraham, God did save a remnant of the city—four to be exact:  Lot, his wife, and two daughters.  Only three made it to the cave in the mountains.

Lord, I thank you for redeeming lives. When you say no, it is for our own good because of your great love for us.  Even when we don’t listen, you lovingly pick us up on the other side of our bad choice.  Just like the prodigal son, you welcome us home with open arms.  I am forever grateful to Jesus my Savior.  In his name I pray, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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2Chronicles 26; Revelation 13; Zechariah 9; John 12

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations.  His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River[b] to the ends of the earth. (Zech 9:9-10 NIV)

 

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna![d]

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[e]

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”[f]

16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. (John 12:12-16 NIV)

These verses speak to me of the faithfulness of God and the trustworthiness of his word. It may not be in my timetable, but you can trust it will happen. There were about 500 years between the time Zechariah prophesied of the coming Messiah, even to him riding on a donkey, and the actual event.  No one expected the Messiah to come as he did, even though his birth was prophesized in Isaiah.  We are told Jesus stood up in the synagogue and read a portion of Isaiah 61 and tells them the prophesy about himself was fulfilled that very day (Luke 4:17-21) and then sits down.  He told them who he was and they missed it. When Jesus rode into town on the colt of a donkey, no one even connected the two events until after Jesus’ resurrection.  Jesus reveals himself to me through his word and I can miss him as well.  As an analytical person, I sometimes need to sift through data in my head before the light bulb goes off.  The Holy Spirit is so patient with me.

Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate[a] with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar[b] of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. (John 12:1-3 NLT)

This dinner happened after Lazarus had been resurrected. I can picture it being a celebratory dinner of life when just days before there seemed no hope they would ever be together as a family again.  Yet here they were.  Mary was so overcome with love and gratitude for Jesus she poured her prize possession on him.  There was nothing in this world that meant more to her than he did.  She wiped the oil with her own hair.  In those days, women kept their hair wrapped around their head, they did not wear it loose.  Yet she exposed herself, leaving herself open to ridicule, in open abandonment to his presence.  In my mind that is true worship.

 

Lord Jesus, I don’t know if I have ever felt that overwhelmed by you that nothing of this world matters more than you—but I want to. You came to set the captive free and I long for that freedom, that abandonment to worship you with everything I am.  Thank you for stepping out of heaven to come to earth as a lowly infant and show us the way to true life.  O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Chronicles 8; 3 John 1; Habakkuk 3; Luke 22

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. (Hab 3:17-19) (NIV)

19The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. (NASB)

Life is not easy. Everyday there are so many situations we encounter that are unplanned.  Sometimes they are joyful surprises, like beautiful sunsets—those days we can’t understand why God is so good to us!   Other days we feel like we were hit by a Mack Truck–those days we know the weight of what is happening is going to take us down.  No matter what comes our way, we have the Word of God to get us through it.  There are Psalms of praise to capture our joy and there are verses like Habakkuk 3:19 to remind us God is with us and giving us the strength to walk every step.

When I became a Christ follower, I thought all my bad days were behind me. Somehow, I got the impression that my life would be trouble-free.  I have no idea where I ever got that idea but it could not be farther from the truth.  God will take us through some really difficult things in order to mold us into the image of Christ.  But He has not asked us to endure anything His own Son did not experience while here on earth.

63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him. (Luke 22:63-65)

The thing I’ve learned in life through all the pain, through all the hardships, and through all the pruning is that no matter what comes at me I can endure it as long as I have Jesus. As Moses said in the wilderness to God, “Do not send us from this place if you do not go with us.”  God is sovereign; God is good.  That is not easy for my little human brain to wrap around at times.  There is so much evil in the world.  It seems almost every day we hear about car bombings, mass shootings of innocent people, people killing other people for no apparent reason.

11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. (1 John 3:11)

How do you rejoice in the Lord when your world falls apart—when the most unimaginable horrific thing happens? We never know when evil is going to knock at our front door.  I have watched friends walk through trials that were more than what I think I could survive but I learned a lesson by watching them.  The first thing they did was cry out to God to be their strength.  The second thing they did was refuse to believe any lie the devil told them about God’s goodness.  The third thing they did was make a choice not to let the situation label them.  Their trial did not become their identity for they had found that in Christ.  “The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”  Watching people live the truth is how I know it is possible to rejoice in the Lord in every situation.

Lord, there is nothing in this world that has value over you or your presence in my life. I have no idea how people live without you each day.  No matter what comes our way, you always have a plan.  And it is good.  I can only endure because of Christ in me–He alone is my strength.  As Christmas is upon us, may the understanding of what Christ did for the sake of humanity be obvious to those who have not yet believed. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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

To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (1 Pet 1:1, 2)

Years later, that would be us Peter is addressing—God’s elect. We are strangers in this world; our true home is with God.  We may reside in New York, Houston, Seattle or on any of the other 6 continents.  For now, we live among the saved and unsaved, the righteous and the unrighteous.  We are here for God’s purpose. We are here to share the good news of eternal life through belief in Jesus.  Our sins have been forgiven; we are righteous because of Jesus.

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.

When I was a little girl, I pictured God sitting in heaven with all these TV screens around him watching us and directing the actions of the world. I always thought of him having one plan and somehow, obviously miraculously, keeping the world in motion and the people interacting.  It never occurred to me he could change his mind.  Yet, in Jonah, we are shown he does.

9”Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:9, 10)

I read those words and they give me hope that God hears me when I cry out to him. Jonah is a book of the bible about a prophet of God going into a gentile nation and telling them God is going to destroy them in 40 days (“Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed.”). The people of Nineveh are not Israelites that God has spoken to repeatedly about repenting.  He sent them countless prophets over the years and they did not listen.  Now Jonah, a Hebrew prophet, shows up in Nineveh, walks about the town saying what God told him to say, and the people believed him and repented! They heard and believed! Only by the work of the Spirit could that be possible.

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:11-15)

When we hear the word of God, we have choices of what to do with it. We can allow the devil to take it away from us, we can believe it and follow it for a while but give up when things get tough, we can believe the world over God, or we can hear it, believe it, let it take root in us, and allow it to change us.  The Ninevites believed and were changed.  They experienced God’s grace and forgiveness.

Lord, I thank you that we get second chances. You lavish your grace upon us when we seek forgiveness.  On this day of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the many times you have not given me what I deserve but, instead, have loved me—simply loved me.  Continue to work in my life creating good soil so your word can take root in my life.  I need really deep roots to withstand the trials of this life.  I need living water to help your seed produce a crop.  In Jesus name.  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Kings 23; Hebrews 5; Joel 2; Psalm 142

24 Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the Lord. 25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses. 

God wants my complete devotion. There is nothing that should be higher in my life than Him.  However, is that the case for me?  So many times I see my bible sitting in the place I have my quiet time.  I know God is calling to me to spend time with him.  But I just can’t today, Lord.  I got up too late and have to run to get to work.  Not tonight, Lord.  My favorite TV show is on.  What does it hurt to read that book?  Everyone else is reading it.  I have a really big decision to make.  I think I’ll call a friend instead of praying and talking to God about it.  I am feeling lonely and unloved.  I think I’ll eat anything I can to stuff the feelings and numb the pain.

I may not have Asherah poles and statues of animals sitting around my house, but there are so many other things I can put at a higher priority than God. Yet, the joy and satisfaction that comes from the sweet time with I spend with Him, so outweighs anything else.  He will meet my needs, fill the emptiness inside, and direct my decisions. All that and more comes to me when I put Him first, and highest, in my life.  Wouldn’t I love to have it said of me, “She turned to the LORD with all her heart and with all her soul and with all her strength?”  I am a work in progress.

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—     the great locust and the young locust,     the other locusts and the locust swarm[b] my great army that I sent among you.

The first time I heard the verse, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” I was at a women’s retreat. It was the first one I had ever attended and I was a very new believer.  I was in deep pain at the time.  So much had happened in my life due to my brokenness and bad decisions.  I needed hope that a better life was possible.  Towards the end of the retreat, a woman got up and gave her testimony.  One of the verses she quoted was Joel 2:25.  I sensed the Spirit whisper to my soul, “that verse is for you!”  It was almost as if I could audibly hear the promise of the Lord.  He wanted me to know He could restore relationships and rebuild my life.

Looking at the verse now, many years later, I noticed something different. The “locusts” in my life back then were of my own doing.  But these “locusts” were referring to a plague that God had sent.  God purposefully sent them to get the attention of the nation of Judah.  He was calling them to repent. He wanted to be first in their lives.

12“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 

God loves us so much and he wants us all to himself. I have learned over my years of walking with him that he will send “locusts” in various forms to draw me back to him.  As I’ve heard it stated, God is more interested in my character than my comfort.  There have been times he has allowed me to experience the devastation only to build me up even stronger on the other side.  Those idols pull at me and promise fulfillment, yet never deliver.  Those “locusts” force me to my knees in repentance.

Surely he has done great things! 21 Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice.  Surely the LORD has done great things!

He has done great things in my life. I have every reason to be glad and rejoice. Hallelujah!

Heavenly Father, I ask you to forgive me for the times I do not put you first. My life is so much better when you are in your proper place.  No matter what comes at me, I can handle it because I am not alone.  There is nothing else that will give me the strength I need; nothing else will fill the emptiness inside.  Thank you for never giving up on me. 

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Kings 8; 1 Timothy 5; Daniel 12; Psalm 119:49-72

Psalm 119:49-50 – Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this:  Your promise preserves my life.

58I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.

There have been times in my life when the only thing I had to cling to was God’s promises. Those promises got me through some of my darkest days. I remember specifically one occasion where my heart was breaking. I cried out to Him in my distress.  I was driving down the road, tears pouring from my eyes, as I was listening to a Christian radio station.  The song playing had evoked such emotion of a recent loss.  At the end of the song, the DJ started reading scripture.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.  Those words were like a soothing balm to my heart.  There are verses I draw from to give me courage when I need it.  They give me hope when I have none.  His word assures me of his presence.  I am not alone.

67Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.

Affliction is not something I would ask God for in my quiet time—or any other time for that matter. Yet, so much of my journey with Him has been learning how to live my life as He calls us to live rather than how I did it on my own.  He has used those trials to teach me. God’s decrees are there to protect us not inhibit us. It took me awhile to understand that.  My sinful nature wanted to do what I wanted to do and out of it came a lot of pain for many people.  Nevertheless, God redeems those years even as we live through the repercussions of our sin.  His word has given me direction.

71It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

By studying the Bible, I am in the process of learning how to truly live and find joy in any circumstance. For instance, when I was unemployed for over a year, I learned trust.  When my mother was very ill and in the hospital so much, I learned patience.  When everything in my life seemed out of control, I learned to surrender.  When no one else was there to listen to me, I learned to pray.  Those times were not fun by any means, but I can look back and see how He used them to teach me.  They deepened my faith.

Lord, you know there are times I forget what you’ve told me but you are always gracious to remind me. I remember a song with the lyrics, “your loving kindness is better than life”.  Thank you for always being there for me, for loving me as you do, and for teaching me how to have a better life.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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

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.

Christ has set me free! Sometimes I forget that.  There are hurts and habits from my past that Jesus has healed and changed.  I have to admit that my mind can sometimes go back to those places.  I remember what it was like to be a slave.  I remember what it was like to carry the burden alone.  Jesus called me to Himself.  He wrapped his arms around me and held me.  It was as if he said, “Child, you don’t have to do this life alone.  No more striving; let’s do this together!”  Oh the freedom that comes when we give it all to Him.

 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

I love Jesus. I love how he relates to me. When I accepted him as my Savior, I truly felt free. There was a drive in me to know him and how God intended life to be lived—which was not the way I was doing it that was for sure! In my mind, I had a lot of catching up to do.  I was so grateful to him for he truly pulled me out of the muck and the mire.  He set my feet on firm ground and I took off running.  I was studying the bible, praying, having quiet times, and learning so much. He sent people into my life to encourage me, teach me, and pray for me.  I was running the good race.  Then someone from my past, before Jesus, showed up in my life again.  That person “cut in on me” and tripped me up.  That yoke of slavery was lurking.  The persuasion is subtle, the words can seem true; yet you know they aren’t Truth.  There is that “Y” in the road.  The world beckons one way.  Jesus stands there with his arms open the other way. I run to him. His word is truth and can be trusted.  As a popular Christian song says, “I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back.”  The race continues.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

 As I watch the news, I see the evidence of this statement. I see people “biting and devouring each other” and the destruction it is causing is growing.  We have an enemy that has set out to steal, kill, and destroy us—and we are helping him.  It grieves me to see Christ followers caught up in the lies. I have to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and not any of the screens (TV, social media) that try to persuade me or I could easily be caught up as well.  Paul is warning us about this through the entire chapter.  We are to be led by the Spirit and not by the flesh.

I can only humbly serve another in love by knowing how Jesus served others. He modeled an example for us in the story of the last supper when he washed the feet of the disciples, including Judas fully knowing he was about to betray him.  I want to love my neighbor but they are not always nice to me.  I want to react to them out of my flesh but Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, not only give them your shirt but give them your coat as well.  So I have felt convicted to begin to pray for ways to reach my neighbors—my immediate neighbors.  I have no problem going to a rescue mission, a woman’s shelter, or even Africa to serve.  However, I have not reached out to my next-door neighbors.  I trust God will show me how to show love to them.

Heavenly Father, the battle is real. I must continually look to you for my direction and the strength to continue the good race.  Sometimes it feels more like an obstacle course than a race but I have your Word and your Spirit to help me over the hurdles.  Show me how to love my neighbors.  Teach me how to love like Jesus.  In His name I pray, Amen

 

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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