Author Archives: gardnlady

Leviticus 2,3; John 21; Proverbs 18; Colossians 1

Whenever I read John 21, there is something about it that fills me with joy.

Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

This reminds me of the first time Jesus told Peter to throw his net on the other side of the boat. It was when he called him to be fishers of men. Peter surely remembered it. I wonder if Peter was going back to that time BEFORE he denied Jesus; if he needed to be in that place where he first met Jesus. My bible is precious to me.  It is filled with dates and words and memories of the times I’ve met with Jesus.  When I need to be encouraged, that’s where I go—back to the place I met Jesus.

I thought a lot about Peter and what might have been going through his head in light of how I struggle with my sin—when I know I’ve done something that really must have hurt God.  I’ve gone the gamut from being so upset with myself and couldn’t believe I did it.  I was humbled and sad and ashamed of myself for being tempted to do something I never thought I’d do. I can imagine Peter could have felt like that as well.  In repentance, I’ve gone before the Lord and confessed my sin asking to be forgiven.  But I went feeling shame and remorse. That’s why the fact Peter didn’t hesitate to run to Jesus, to jump out of the boat and swim to shore, fills me with joy.  He didn’t hold back in shame; he immediately went to Jesus. The love Peter had for Jesus was evident.  He had no doubt Jesus felt the same about him. That is a lesson for me as well.  I have no need to hold back in shame but immediately run to Jesus in expectation of forgiveness. Later in this same chapter we see total restoration as Jesus gives him his assignment to continue what Jesus started.  He even prepares him for how he will die. We know the rest of the story and how the disciples went willingly to spread the gospel and how they became martyr’s in the name of Jesus even knowing what might happen.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Jesus reconciled Peter.  Jesus reconciled Paul.  Jesus reconciled me.

Lord, I thank you for stories and an imagination where I can picture myself as the main character.  I can picture myself as Peter, I can imagine how I might feel, and I can receive the same gift you gave to him—forgiveness.  Thank you Lord for forgiving me when I’ve sinned, thank you for accepting me no matter what, and thank you for always being there just like you stood on the shore for the disciples to see. I love you so much!  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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Exodus 28; John 7; Proverbs 4; Galatians 3

Distracted driving! This is a term that has come to the forefront in the past few years. Thanks to technology, we can communicate with any one at any time. This has created quite an issue with drivers and become dangerous. For myself, I can remember being tired and driving home from work with glazed eyes just staring ahead. Once I got home, I wasn’t even sure how I got there. I have missed turns because I was having a conversation and not paying attention. Sometimes I really, really struggle to resist looking at my phone because someone texted me while I was driving. I am sorry to admit I have, on occasion, given in and tried to read and drive. That is not only dangerous to me, but it is also dangerous for anyone around me. I need to keep my eyes focused on the road before me at all times and be aware of my surroundings. This knowledge creates wisdom.

20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil. (Prov. 4:20-27)

Solomon has been credited with writing most of the proverbs. He is also known as the man who asked God for wisdom. (1 Kings 3:9). The dictionary defines wisdom as “knowledge, and the capacity to make due use of it” (Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary). These words are a warning for our protection.  Pay attention! Remember my words, keep them in your heart, for your very life is at stake!

First, Solomon tells us to guard our hearts for everything flows from it. How true is that statement! I have let my heart make decisions for me that turned out to cause so much pain in my life. I have had to learn when it is okay to share it and when I must guard it. I need to watch what I say and speak loving, kind words—not words considered acceptable by the rest of the world. These words not only hurt my heart, they hurt the heart of our God.

I learned the hard way what happens when you do not keep your eyes on the path before you. I followed my heart into a situation that took me away from God. I took my eyes off Jesus! It seemed the right choice at the time, but God showed me that someone was taking advantage of my compassionate heart and I was being manipulated into doing something I thought was the loving thing to do. I looked away for an instant and paid the price–it led me straight into sin. Have you ever noticed that when you are driving and you look away, the car steers where your eyes are directed? We are not to turn to the right or the left but follow the path before us. We cannot let ourselves be distracted.

36 “Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: holy to the Lord. 37 Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban. 38 It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron’s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the Lord. (Ex. 28:36-38) NIV

Jesus paid much too high a price for us to not listen to his words, his wisdom, which comes from his Father. Because of him, we have the Holy Spirit in us. Because of him, we have “HOLY TO THE LORD” written on our souls—not our foreheads. We do not need a priest to bear our guilt, Jesus did it on a cross. It was the greatest gift of all time. Because of him, we are acceptable to the LORD.

28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:28-29)

Lord Jesus, thank you for leaving us your wisdom. Thank you for the example you lived before the eyes of the disciples that has been passed down to us. Because of you, we are heirs to a great promise and a great future. We must keep our eyes focused on you at all times looking neither to the right or the left so we will not be distracted. Help us to guard our hearts, for streams of living water flow from within us as it says in John 7. Let it flow from us to the places you want it to go. I pray this in your precious name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Exodus, Galatians, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Proverbs

Exodus 14; Luke 17; Job 32; 2 Corinthians 2

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Ex 14:13-14) NIV

How often do I want to take matters into my own hands and think, “I have to do something!”. There is a giant situation staring me in the face. It really scares me, and I am way out of my comfort zone. It can’t possibly be from God (I think to myself). He would never put me in this place! But I know he did. There is no way out and I must walk through this. Lord, I’m afraid! He says, “I know, child; trust me!”

When faced with this scenario, my initial response might be “flight” or “fight”. It is not usually “stand firm”. The longer I walk with him, though, I am slowly but surely learning to trust God and trust his goodness. Experiencing his protection and provision in the past is fresh in my memory. I tend to analyze the many outcomes that could happen when all along God’s plan for me might be to see him perform a miracle. Any response other than to stand firm would cause me to miss it. I try to be more aware of the Holy Spirit’s direction.

“But it is a spirit in man,
And the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding. (Job 32:9) NASB

The Israelites saw the glory of God and the lengths he would go to save his people. Those walls of water were really high as they passed through them. The ground was dry so the wagons and livestock passed through without hindrance. Both the angel of God who was traveling with them and the pillar of cloud moved from leading them to protecting them from the rear. They had light; their enemies were in the dark. They were unscathed; the enemies wheels came off their wagons and there was nothing but confusion.

Sometimes the battle is not ours to fight. We do what God tells us to do and then watch him do what only he can do. This battle was intended to show God’s glory and power. Their part was to stand firm.

31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. (Ex. 14:31) NIV

When the sun rose the next day, it would be a new way of life for the Israelites. They had been used to slavery and abuse. Learning to be free would be difficult. It would take trusting God!

Lord, this is one of my favorite stories. I don’t think I will ever tire of reading it. You are Lord of all creation and it obeys your commands. Moving an ocean is nothing for you. Placing your people safely on the other side, far away from those who would harm them, shows your love for them. I know you love me just as much. It was a new beginning for them. Yes, there were trials along the way, but you never left them. I am thankful for each new day you give me to learn to know you and to trust you. I rest in knowing you are with me. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Exodus 1; Luke 4; Job 18; I Corinthians 5

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

The mountain top experience. Jesus had just had one as he was baptized in the Jordan River. The voice of his Father proclaimed, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22b).  I’ve had several over the course of my walk with Jesus. I remember the first time I “heard” the Holy Spirit speak to me. It really shook me up. The thoughts I had could not have come from me. But almost immediately there was another “voice” casting doubt that I could possibly have heard from God! I was a very baby Christian at the time. It has taken years to understand that I have an enemy that wants to keep me as far from following Jesus as possible. Jesus knew how to battle the devil. It is something I continue to learn.

Our small group is currently in the throes of learning how to let God fight those battles for us, the ones where our enemy wants to take us down. We have our part to do, and when we do what we can do, God will do the rest. I have to admit, I have lost most of the battles and have had to pick myself back up again after being knocked down. I feel like I had a small victory recently. Something happened at work which caused me to NOT believe I am who God says I am. That is a frequent target as it is my soft spot, that place that has a scab over it but gets picked at on occasion. A place of weakness. As I drove home, I felt myself beginning that familiar spiral when something inside reminded me of what I’d been learning—worship is a weapon. I heard that at a women’s conference recently and it stuck. All I could think to do at the time was turn on the radio and start singing praise songs. With tears streaming down my face, and a huge lump in my throat, I drove down the road singing at the top of my lungs with all that I had. Then, I got very angry and started yelling— “You aren’t taking me down! I refuse to go back to that place.” You see, I had already experienced the words Jesus spoke that day in the synagogue.

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus has set me free! I have the Holy Spirit inside me. Jesus could not be tempted because he knew who he was. When I remain in that place of knowing who I am, and whose I am, His strength is available to me. By the time I got home, I felt at peace. This battle was over.

A few days ago, I was looking out back early in the morning, just as the sun rose. Perched high in the trees was a hawk. I knew he was there waiting for the birds to start gathering at my feeders. He planned to swoop down and devour the bird that was unsuspecting and not on guard. It reminded me how important it is to always have my guard up. My enemy is waiting for me to be unsuspecting as well. In a moment of weakness, like I experienced at work, I could easily have gone back to believing the lies.

It’s like working out. Unless I actually use my muscles and exercise them, they won’t get stronger. I think God was giving me a chance to put into practice what he was teaching me. I don’t have to believe those lies; I don’t have to go back to that place of darkness. He has given me everything I need to fight that battle and what I don’t have, he will provide.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your presence, for your example in Jesus, and for teaching me how to trust that you are who you say you are and can do what you say you can do. Sometimes I forget that you are for me when it seems the world is against me. Thank you for reminding me. Thank you for being my strength when I was weak. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Genesis 37; Mark 7; Job 3; Romans 7

31 Then the brothers killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood. 32 They sent the beautiful robe to their father with this message: “Look at what we found. Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?”

33 Their father recognized it immediately. “Yes,” he said, “it is my son’s robe. A wild animal must have eaten him. Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes and dressed himself in burlap. He mourned deeply for his son for a long time. 35 His family all tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “I will go to my grave mourning for my son,” he would say, and then he would weep. (Gen 37:31-35) NLT

The brothers “sent the beautiful robe to their father”. They did not even face him. They knew what that news would do to their father, yet they were so consumed with their own jealousy and hatred toward their brother, it didn’t stop them from following through with their plan to be rid of him.

I can almost hear these words from Job 3 being lamented by Jacob:

20 “Why is light given to those in misery,
    and life to the bitter of soul,
21 to those who long for death that does not come,
    who search for it more than for hidden treasure,

25 What I feared has come upon me;
    what I dreaded has happened to me.
26 I have no peace, no quietness;
    I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (NIV)

I have been in that place of despair—that place where I wished I had never been born. That place where the pain was so consuming, I wanted to die. At the time, I thought I was alone in my pain. There was no light, only darkness. Slowly, though, my eyes were opened to the Truth. I was not alone—I had a very real Savior holding me. Like Jacob and Job, I learned the pain was all part of God’s plan.

24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.[g] He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

This woman was not a Jew but she had heard of his healing power. She had nothing to lose by begging for the demon to be driven from her daughter. Jesus tested her. She was willing to surrender herself for the sake of her child. She humbled herself. He honored her request.

Jesus is so good. I have walked some rough roads with him. They were painful, and hard, and I wanted to give up. He was patient, and loving, and encouraged me through those places when I thought I couldn’t continue. That is how I know he is good. He was strong enough to let me struggle and find my way in Him.

Lord Jesus, I am so thankful for your presence in my life. Your presence is as life-giving as the air I breath—breath you breathed into me. I have no doubt there are still difficult places to go, but I know the One who goes with me. I lift up my eyes—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. In your name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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Genesis 22; Matthew 21; Nehemiah 11; Acts 21

“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. (Gen. 22:2-4) NLT

Obedience. Trust. Reverential fear of the LORD. All these are evident of Abraham’s relationship with God in these few verses. He didn’t question, he didn’t argue, and he didn’t barter. Abraham obeyed without hesitation when God asked him to do the hardest thing He could ask any parent to do—especially when this son had been so long awaited! Sacrifice your son.

These are familiar verses, ones I’ve read many times and heard sermons teaching me their meaning. Yet, this time, I saw for myself the impact of these verses. I felt them as a parent might feel them as God spoke them. Now the title at the top of my NIV bible says, “Abraham Tested”, however, Abraham did not have that information. All he knew was God asked him to sacrifice what he loved most dearly. And God was specific which son he meant.

The length of time for this journey caused me to pause: “On the third day”. The significance and symbolism shouted “JESUS” to me. God was not asking Abraham to do anything He wasn’t prepared to do Himself—sacrifice his son. In the end, God provided the ram as a substitute and Isaac was spared. While I KNEW that was a foreshadowing, something in my soul responded to those words as I read them this time. Jesus was the lamb, there was no substitute in a thicket for his life. He willingly laid himself on the altar—for me, for all of us! That is the cost of love, true love. I felt God remind me in such a loving manner, “Whenever you doubt my love for you, remember!”

We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week. These believers prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem. (Acts 21:4)

13 But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13)

Obedience. Trust. Reverential fear of the LORD. Paul also displayed these characteristics. He knew God’s purpose was for him to spread the name of Jesus. Many people had prophesied that something bad was going to happed to him in Jerusalem, yet Paul never faltered. He was willing to die, to sacrifice himself, so others could be saved. Again, the cost of love!

Father, you touched my heart with the words I read today. I know you are encouraging me to stay the course, to trust the outcome to you, and remember how much you love me—to the point of sacrificing Your Son for me. Thank you for showing up exactly when I need you! I love you! Help me overcome any fears I may have that would hinder me from obedience, trust, and the reverence you so deserve! In Jesus name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Genesis 7; Ezra 7; Matthew 7; Acts 7

The readings today caused me to remember God’s goodness, His provision, and His protection.

21 All the living things on earth died—birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people. 22 Everything that breathed and lived on dry land died. 23 God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat. 24 And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days. (Gen. 7:21-24 NLT)

What must it have been like on that ark knowing everything around you was being destroyed while you trust God for your life? I have been inside my house when really fierce winds and rain raged outside—it was the kind of storm that take down trees and rips off roofs. I must admit to feeling a sense of fear as to my fate. What struck me most reading the chapter this time was how God not only protected them but also provided for the needs of the eight passengers and all the livestock, animals, and birds contained safely within. Noah had no idea how long they were going to be afloat and he was told by God to load enough food for all of them. Only God alone could have made the food last for the year from the time they got on the boat until the time they got off! God’s goodness, His provision, His protection.

27 Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who made the king want to beautify the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem! 28 And praise him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty nobles! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me. And I gathered some of the leaders of Israel to return with me to Jerusalem. (Ezra 7:27-28 NLT)

The Israelites were finally able to go home after their long exile. God caused the King of Assyria to favor them to the point he even provided the means with which they could rebuild their Temple. He had protected a remnant of his people and sent them back to their own land. God is good!

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matt 7:24-27)

As I thought back to the worst storm I could remember, I was thankful God had protected me and my home. The neighbor’s roof had shingles blown over the neighborhood, there were downed trees, and lots of debris. That is such a physical example of what Jesus is talking about—the other type of storm that enters our life. His teachings are the bedrock we build upon. He is that safe harbor in a storm. I’ve lived through several storms of that type—the kind that almost take you out because of the pain they cause to your spirit. I am not sure I would have survived the storm without Jesus to cling to. I truly learned of God’s sovereignty. I learned of his protection, his provision, and his goodness. I can trust he will be there again whenever the next storm hits.

55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” (Acts 7:55-56)

Lord Jesus, I look forward to seeing your face one day as Stephen did. I will be able to thank you in person for your protection, your provision, and your goodness in my life. I thank you for the storms I’ve endured so far because they drew me closer to you. I know it was only after the storm had blown over that I could see your purpose in it and it was always for my benefit. I lift my voice with Ezra’s and sing, “Praise the Lord”. In your precious name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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