Author Archives: gardnlady

Joshua 9; Psalm 140, 141; Jeremiah 3; Matthew 17

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips (Ps 141:3)

If only I prayed that daily! If only I prayed before I spoke! So often the words come and they are out of my mouth without so much as a filter. How many people have I torn down instead of built up (1 Thess 5:11)? My words matter.

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it. (Ps. 141:5a)

There is a group of women that meet almost every Wednesday night at my house. We figured out we’ve been meeting since 2011. Needless to say, we’ve done a lot of life together. I know them, I know their character. I know their love for the Lord and their desire to walk in righteousness. Do we get it right? Of course not! They have my permission to point out if I am heading in the wrong direction. I trust them and believe they have my best interests at heart. They keep me on the narrow path. Their desire is to always point me to my Lord—and so we are accountable to each other. They are quick to pray for me, build me up, or tell me the truth in love. Their words carry weight.

Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath. (Joshua 9:15)

Joshua and the Israelites were deceived by the Gibeonites. They had heard what happened in Jericho and Ai and did not want to be killed, so they asked to make a treaty with the Israelites after convincing them they had come from far away. They did not inquire of the Lord but made a binding oath in his name. The Gibeonites became water carriers and woodcutters to serve the Lord. God’s word is binding!

14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. (Matt. 17:14-18) NIV

Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of the boy—his words have power.

So often I speak when I should listen, don’t stop to inquire of the Lord and suffer because of it, and try to do things in my own power when I should be trusting Jesus. I am truly a work in progress. Words have such impact on every aspect of our lives. I am so thankful to have the words in the bible to teach me.

Oh Lord, I shake my head as I remember times I’ve hurt people with my words. But through that I’ve learned humility and to ask for forgiveness. There are times I’ve said I would do something when it is not what you wanted me to do at all! Had I asked, life would have been so much easier. I ask for your help in this area. Help me speak words of kindness and encouragement. Help me to stop thinking I know what those words are and pray for the Holy Spirit to give me the right words at the right time. Those words have power that does not come from me! They have power to love and power to heal. Help me use my words wisely. I pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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

Deuteronomy 28:20-68; Psalm 119:25-48; Isaiah 55; Matthew 3

41 May your unfailing love come to me, Lord,
your salvation, according to your promise;
42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
for I have put my hope in your laws.
44 I will always obey your law,
for ever and ever.
45 I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
46 I will speak of your statutes before kings
and will not be put to shame,
47 for I delight in your commands
because I love them.
48 I reach out for your commands, which I love,
that I may meditate on your decrees. (Psalm 119:41-48) NIV

I grew up going to church. It’s what I did on Sunday. I wish I could say we did it as a family, but my brother, sister and I were sent off each week. I learned about Jesus, I learned all the children’s stories and sang songs about Jonah and Noah. There was the picture of Jesus with all the children gathered around him. I was taught the Lord’s Prayer, the doxology, and the Christian Creed. When I was confirmed, I received my first bible. I still have that bible. But I never opened it.

Fast forward 30 years. I had taken my children to Sunday School, had them baptized, and went through the motions of being a Christian. Then my life fell apart (for the first time). Just about the time I pulled myself back together, BOOM! Round two! You see, the operative word there was “I” pulled myself back together. I “pulled myself up by the bootstraps” and bulldozed my way through the pain. You really can only do that for so long before the explosion. “I” was not the answer, so I went searching.

That was when I met Jesus for the first time. Yes, I had lived my entire life with the head knowledge of Jesus but I had never let him into my heart. I had gone to church ever since I could remember and had never heard about having a personal relationship with him. He pursued me. He won me over with his unfailing love. I said yes and started a journey to a new and better life.

The longer I followed him, the more he taught me. The more he taught me, the more I realized how much I wanted freedom—the freedom he died to give me. In order to do that, I had to learn to obey his law, his precepts. I could no longer straddle the fence and live partly his way and partly the way of the world. I hungered for his word. I knew healing was in it. Freedom from shame comes with knowing who you are in Christ. His word and his presence are my constant companion.

10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:10-12)

There are so many layers to God’s word. Just when I think I’ve mastered a verse, he shows me a word I hadn’t noticed before. It takes on a deeper meaning. It draws me closer to him, my heart is filled with his unfailing love. I can’t even begin to recount the number of times I prayed with a problem, or a complaint, or a broken heart, only to open the bible to the perfect verse that corrected me, directed me, encouraged me, or enveloped me like a warm blanket. And if I missed it or didn’t want to hear it, he has never failed to send exactly what I need, exactly when I need it, until I finally get it. God is so patient with me. Through the journey I found peace. I found joy. I sing along with the mountains and hills of his greatness.

Lord, I can never thank you enough for captivating me with your love. You have shown me what real love looks like. Your infinite patience has shown me how I should treat others. I want to point to you as my source, show others what a life of freedom looks like, and then watch you change their life as you did mine. There is nothing that brings me greater joy than to see you at work in someone’s life. There is such enthusiasm when they share their story. It is the same light that shines when I tell mine. I am blessed because of Jesus. In his name I pray, Amen

 

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Filed under 66 Books, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Psalms

Deuteronomy 13,14; Psalm 99-101; Isaiah 41; Revelation 11

I have called you back from the ends of the earth,
    saying, ‘You are my servant.’
For I have chosen you
    and will not throw you away.
10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Is 41:9-10) NLT

There is an enemy who wants nothing more than to deceive me and convince me that I am not chosen by anyone—why would anyone want me? It started off early in life on the playground when I was one of the last people chosen when they were choosing teams. First choice was always the champion of whatever sport it happened to be. Next would come the “popular kids”. Then there were those of us who were neither great at sports nor popular. Middle school wasn’t much different. School dances when I wanted someone to ask me to dance. I still remember the crushing feeling of having a boy look at me and moving on. Thankfully, I had girlfriends and learned to have fun without all the teenage drama.

Adulthood has had its share of rejections as well. It wasn’t until I found Jesus that I learned the truth of my value. I have a Father who loves me, a Friend who defends me and encourages me, a Teacher who guides me, and a Deliverer who saved me. The verses above assure me I am chosen and the apple of his eye (Ps 17:8). It took a long time for me to grasp that and hold it deep in my heart. His words changed my life.

“Suppose there are prophets among you or those who dream dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles occur. If they then say, ‘Come, let us worship other gods’—gods you have not known before— do not listen to them. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul. Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. Deut 13:1-4) NLT

The world wants to draw me away from God. It is insidious at times and I don’t realize it right away. My flesh can be drawn to whatever is loudest around me. I’ve found that it isn’t God. He has given me his words, he has given me his directions, he has shown me how he wants me to live. He has invested dearly into my life. His voice is always soft and loving—never loud. He waits to see which I will choose—Him? Yes, Lord, I choose you! Just as you chose me!

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
    Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.[a]
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation. (Ps 100) NLT

My God is worthy of all my praise. I know the day will come when all the saints will sing of his glory in one voice. I remember the first time I walked into a church that was alive with the Holy Spirit. I’m not even sure I had accepted Jesus yet but I was seeking. I was a few minutes late and the congregation was singing songs of praise I had never heard. I looked around at their faces. There was a glow as hands and faces were turned upwards singing with everything in them. I thought to myself, “I don’t know what “that” is, but “that” is what I’m looking for!” I could feel it in my soul—hearts united in thanksgiving. Five years later, I was in a church service singing with everything in me. I had a sense that I had left the building and I was standing in the very throne room of God singing only to Him! At the end of the song, I remembered that first time and I realized God had answered a silent prayer I had made that day long ago. What I was searching for was not a “that” but a Who! “His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”

Lord, thank you for choosing me! This world tries to convince me there is something better—but there isn’t anything better than you! Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere. In my minds eye, I have seen you clapping in delight when I’ve danced for you or sang a song just for you. You’ve shown me over and over just how dearly loved I am by you. I praise you! In Jesus mighty name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Psalms

Numbers 35; Psalm 79; Isaiah 27; 1 John 5

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ[a] has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:1-5) NLT

Being a Christ follower requires such faith! It is one thing to believe there is a God, it is totally an act of faith to believe that I am his child. Believing Jesus is his child, that I can believe! But me? Sinful, broken, imperfect me? It took a long time to grasp that.

My journey with God has been a process to deepen my faith. It seems like he patiently led me from one step to the next. I know some people have experiences where God changes them instantaneously. That was not what he chose for me. It was a very big step to believe I was his child. That was no easy feat! I knew what the bible said, I’d memorized the verses, heard sermons, and did multiple bible studies. I had accepted Christ; I had all the head knowledge. But I had so much shame and brokenness in me, it took many years for him to get under all the layers of walls I had built up around my heart. One by one they came down. Then he had to put all the shattered pieces of my heart back together. I had so many people pour into me over the years, but I liken it to pouring water into a cracked cistern. The water drains out and the pot is never full. He continued to pour love into me. He let me go at my speed until the time came I knew. I knew deep in my soul that he loved me and I was his. I knew because of his consistency. I learned to trust him. I learned to believe I am who he says I am because he is who he says he is. I knew I was his adopted child.

It is really hard to give to others what I do not have. I am only able to give love and serve his children because of his constant love for me. I am able to obey his commands because I trust his goodness. They aren’t burdensome commands—they are life saving. I realize I live in an evil world—that has not changed in all these years since John penned those words. I have an enemy who is out to destroy me. It truly is my faith in Jesus as my savior that enables me to have any victory over that enemy. I have had to learn to dig deep inside of me to find that faith. I have had to believe him and know his voice over the voice of the deceiver.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. (1 John 5:20-21) NLT

I still don’t always get it right. I can easily turn to the right or the left unless I am intentionally staying in daily relationship with God. There is so much in this world that seems like it might fulfill me. In those times of emptiness, it really takes calling on the Holy Spirit. I can never let my guard down for without the Spirit, my flesh is weak.

Lord, I thank you for the patience you have with me. You gave me enough light to take the next step in our journey together. There were times that was the only light I saw—I was surrounded by darkness. But as time passed and my trust grew, I was able to look back and see how far we’ve come together. You are my loving Father, and I am your dearly loved child. Help me love others as you have loved me. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Filed under 1 John, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

Numbers 21; Psalm 60, 61; Isaiah 10:5-34; James 4

Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!”

So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people.

Then the Lord told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed! (Num 21:4-9) NLT

Sometimes the word of God can cause me to flinch and think “ouch”! I am a firm believer in the Lord but I have to admit there are times I question where he is taking me. Right now, in fact, there is a promise God gave me over 20 years ago that has still not come to pass. I’ve questioned him, gotten angry, doubted him, and probably thrown a tantrum or two over the years. Much like the Israelites, I’ve complained in the face of observable blessings. It has taken me quite a few years to come to the realization that when the time comes that promise will be fulfilled, and not until. He has corrected and disciplined me when I needed it as well. Those lessons have helped me grow up in so many ways.

Now, I don’t have a bronze snake to remind me of his goodness and his healing, but I do have so many instances where God has been faithful and abundant in his grace. I have journals of stories I can pull out at any given time as a reminder for me to see the path we’ve taken together. Never once in all those years has he ever deserted me. In fact, I’ve been able to find him in situations in my life that happened before I became a Christ follower. Knowing he was there has been the answer to putting some painful situations to rest and finding peace.

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. (Jas 4:1-3) NLT

Pride is buried in me and it rears its ugly head all too frequently. Sometimes I don’t even realize that is what is at the root of my feelings. God has had to show me. It is a part of my flesh that I have to take before the Lord in repentance. It really gets in the way of loving others as Jesus did. Even then, at my worst, he has been faithful.

O God, listen to my cry!
Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,
I cry to you for help
when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
    for you are my safe refuge,
a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
safe beneath the shelter of your wings! (Ps 61:1-4) NLT

On my best days and on my worst, he is my security. I can be me with him. He comforts me when I’m sad, holds me close when I’m afraid, and he shows up in ways that delight me. I have never had a friend I could depend on more than him.

Lord—you are everything to me! I cannot imagine living one moment without you. There are times I forget to call on you and I rely too heavily on myself. That’s usually when I need you the most. I thank you for being my refuge, my fortress, and my sanctuary. You are my source of wisdom and direction. If you do not fill me, I have nothing to give. I pray for a soft and loving heart, filled with compassion for others. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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