Author Archives: gardnlady

Jeremiah 37-39; Hebrews 4; Psalm 79

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Heb 4:12-13) NIV

Scripture, the very word of God, is so unlike any other written word. It IS alive and active. It grows with me. It changes me. As the Holy Spirit works in me, the word of God takes on new meaning. At one point, the verses revealed what I was able to understand at that point in time. Years later, as I matured in my walk, the full weight of his words were made known to me. There was truth I had not yet learned, a character of God I had not yet grasped. His word reaches me in the depths of my soul. It pierces through the layers of walls I have built around my heart. God’s truth has revealed when my thoughts have needed to be taken captive and renewed. It has laid bare my deepest shame and offered me freedom through repentance. His word changes my heart of stone into a vessel filled with his love that is then able to pour into others. I learn as much from the Old Testament as I do the New. God’s word has purpose and is always relevant.

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb. 4:16) NIV

I have no reason to fear coming before my God. He is always on his throne. Because of Jesus and his finished work on the cross, I am able to approach him with confidence that he is there and that he cares about me. The veil was torn in two from top to bottom giving me 24/7 access. In him, I find mercy, forgiveness, strength, and grace. He is as close as a thought, a whisper, a tear. He longs for relationship with me and takes delight in me. He is my ever-present help in time of need. He is God of the Universe, but still has time for me.

13 Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will praise you forever;
from generation to generation
we will proclaim your praise. (Ps. 79:13) NIV

My first Christian concert was a Chris Tomlin concert at Towson University. With him were Louie Giglio and Matt Redman. The place was packed. I will never forget how it ended. The final song was, “How Great Is Our God”. I had sung it many times at church and on the radio. But never with this many people. As thousands of people sang, one by one the band members left the stage. There was no instrumentation, only voices filling the hall. The focus was no longer the band but God Himself. We, generations of people who know the voice of our Shepherd, all lifting our voices praising God in unison. I believe I experienced a taste of heaven that night. One day my voice will join with the heavenly beings and the other saints proclaiming God’s glory: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Is. 6:3)

Lord, there are times when your presence has been overpowering. I thank you for the times you have let me glimpse your glory. I find it in the pages of my bible, when we spend time together, and your word penetrates my soul. It teaches me who You are and how I am to live. I would be lost without you. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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Jeremiah 19-20; Titus 1; Psalm 93

Lord, your laws will stand forever.
Your Temple will be holy forevermore. (Psalm 93:5)

God had established his covenant with the Jews. As long as they worshiped him as the one true God and followed his decrees, his protection was upon them. However, they chose to do otherwise.

Say, ‘Kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem, listen to this message from the Lord. This is what the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: I will soon bring a disaster on this place that will amaze and frighten everyone who hears about it. 4 The people of Judah have quit following me. They have made this a place for foreign gods. They have burned sacrifices to other gods that neither they, nor their ancestors, nor the kings of Judah had ever known before. They filled this place with the blood of innocent people. They have built places on hilltops to worship Baal, where they burn their children in the fire to Baal. That is something I did not command or speak about; it never even entered my mind. Now people call this place the Valley of Ben Hinnom or Topheth, but the days are coming, says the Lord, when people will call it the Valley of Killing. (Jer 19:3-6) NIV

I don’t imagine these words were received with great applause by the crowds that heard Jeremiah declare the words of the LORD. As it is today, many hear the words of God and dismiss them, scoff at them, and refuse to believe them. They are “stiff-necked and refuse to listen.” But as Psalm 93 states: God’s laws will stand forever. His promises can be trusted—both the ones of blessings and the ones of curses (see Deut. 28).

As I read Chapter 20 and Jeremiah’s treatment, I couldn’t help but think of Paul and his many trials. He, too, was beaten and imprisoned for spreading the truth of God’s words.  He, too, was obeying God and fully in His will.

Pashhur son of Immer was a priest and the highest officer in the Temple of the Lord. When he heard Jeremiah prophesying in the Temple courtyard, he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten. And he locked Jeremiah’s hands and feet between large blocks of wood at the Upper Gate of Benjamin of the Lord’s Temple. (Jer 20:1b-3).

Verses 7-18 are entitled “Jeremiah’s Complaint” in my bible. As I read through them, I thought of Jeremiah and what he had just endured. These verses come after he’s been spreading God’s words, warning people of the coming destruction, mistreated, and ridiculed. He spent the night in stocks at the public gate in order to shame him and try to silence him. He was doing God’s work and never expected it would play out the way it did. Having been through trials God has allowed into my life, I totally get his battle within for I’ve battled with these same feelings. Here I was, doing what I thought God called me to do, and something I never expected came out of it. I went from being angry with God, to praising Him, to hurting so badly I wish I’d never been born. Like Jeremiah, I took it straight to God and I felt his love for me as I wrestled with the turmoil inside my own head and heart. He let me wrestle until I got to that place of surrender where, knowing God was sovereign, I could once again do what he was asking me to do. Chapter 21 begins with Jeremiah once again setting off to prophesy for the Lord. Being silent was not an option for Jeremiah—he was called by God to be His voice to the people of Judah and Jerusalem.

But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot. (Jer 20:9)

Lord, I pray to be so consumed by the Holy Spirit that I cannot keep inside what you’ve called me to do. I thank you for the times you’ve allowed me to share my feelings of fear, frustration, doubts, and anger as well as the times of pure praise, worship, and thanksgiving. You’ve patiently waited for me to get beyond myself to that place of surrender where you are once again in your proper place in my life. Your will above my own. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

 

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Isaiah 66; 2 Kings 21; 2 Chronicles 33; 1 Timothy 1; Psalm 62

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, 13 even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. 1:12-14) NLT

I think of the life I had before Christ. It isn’t pretty. I operated out of a place of pain and brokenness and didn’t even know it. I hurt so many people with my words and choices. I knew Jesus in my head but not in my heart. I hoped I was “good enough” to get into heaven someday. “But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief.” Yes, that was me. Before Jesus.

15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen. (1 Tim. 1:15-17) NLT

Now I have a different story to tell. I tell of great redemption, of healing, of a masterpiece under construction. I am a “prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners” and I love to tell people how He changed me. His patience with me astounds me as I fought Him to get to that place of surrender. He never pushed but waited for me to be ready.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. (Ps 62:5-7)

In Jesus I have hope. In Jesus I have life. In Jesus I have security. Nothing in this world gives me those “things”. He took a shattered heart and slowly put all the pieces back together. He then filled it with his love—enough to pour into others—for that is his desire for me. To love. I am to love God, myself, and others. I thought I knew how to love but I was so wrong. It is so much more than I ever dreamed or imagined. It is so much more than a feeling. That was the kind of love I experienced before Jesus, just the feeling kind, the kind that doesn’t last! His love is investment for the long term. It is what enables me to be free to give away what is inside of me because He will replace whatever I give. He redeems my time, my talents, my treasures; nothing is wasted when I am trusting in Him and my love can have eternal value. Praise you Jesus! I am a new creation because of You!

Lord Jesus, I can never sing your praises enough. I can never thank you enough for the redemption you’ve accomplished so far in my life. I know we still have a long way to go, but I am so grateful for your patience and unfailing love for me. I will love you forever. It is in your name I pray, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 32; Ephesians 5

We read in 2 Chronicles 31 that Hezekiah sought the Lord wholeheartedly in all that he did. Yet, the first sentence of 2 Chronicles 32 can make you question that.

After Hezekiah had faithfully carried out this work, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified towns, giving orders for his army to break through their walls. (2 Chron 32:1)

Wow—here is King Hezekiah tearing down statues and Asherah poles and leading the people away from false gods to follow the teachings of Moses and the one true God. These are all really good things he is doing out of love and devotion for God. Why would God allow this to happen?

Don’t I ask that same question? “Lord, I’ve been serving You doing all these good things for You! How could you let __________ (fill in the blank with any number of trials) happen?”

The truth is, I am not God and I have no clue what his plans for me entail. I know he is a good God, that he loves me, and anything that comes into my life he plans to use to draw me closer to him and make me more like Jesus. So, what am I to do when these trials come my way? I know my enemy is going to come after me—much like Hezekiah knew the Assyrians were on their way.

I think Hezekiah gave me some insight as how I can prepare. First, he looked at how the enemy might drain his resources or benefit from their resources. The battle might be a long one so he didn’t want to make it easy for the Assyrians to wait them out.

They organized a huge work crew to stop the flow of the springs, cutting off the brook that ran through the fields. For they said, “Why should the kings of Assyria come here and find plenty of water?”

Then, he fortified the city itself and found places of weakness where the enemy could easily enter. He also made sure he had weapons to protect the army.

Then Hezekiah worked hard at repairing all the broken sections of the wall, erecting towers, and constructing a second wall outside the first. He also reinforced the supporting terraces[a] in the City of David and manufactured large numbers of weapons and shields.

Then he spoke truth into their minds–to fortify that as well. We know the enemy uses words to try to deceive us and intimidate us. Our minds and thoughts are right where those fiery darts are aimed! He will try to get me to be afraid and to doubt God. I need to have words of Truth to shield me and deflect the lies.

He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before him in the square at the city gate. Then Hezekiah encouraged them by saying: “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.

I need people encouraging me, reminding me that God will help me and fight my battles for me. I don’t have to go it alone. Of course, I need to prepare for battles to come my way because they will come. I need to take stock of my resources, my gifts, my talents. I need to make sure I haven’t left myself open to attack by unconfessed sin. The enemy can’t use what I’ve brought into the Light. I need to keep God’s Word handy. That is my weapon to protect myself from lies. And I need to have my close friends close by and praying for me. Isolation is one of the greatest ways the enemy chooses to devour me.

15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Mostly, I need to stay connected to God through prayer. His guidance and direction are there for the asking. Just as he directed Hezekiah and Isaiah, he will direct me. Just as he fought their battle, he will fight for me.

20 Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to God in heaven. 21 And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers. So Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace to his own land. And when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword. (2 Chron 32:20-21)

Lord, I am so thankful for your love, your steadfast love. You are always there. I admit I do not always turn to you first when life comes at me. But I want to! I want to think of you first. I know I can trust you to be with me, to hear me when I cry out, and to direct my steps. You listen, you comfort, you correct, and you pick me up when I fall. You are my Abba who is my shelter in the storms of life. To you be the honor and glory forever. In Jesus name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Isaiah 8-11; Romans 11

Driving to work this morning I was thinking of the thread between the verses in Isaiah and the one in Romans. Isaiah writes of the prophecy of the coming of Jesus. Paul writes after the fulfillment of the prophecy of Christ. We live in the age waiting on the fulfillment of the new testament prophecy—His second coming.  God’s only son, Jesus, has always been and always will be our saving grace.  Like Paul, we have every reason to praise!

God is telling the Jews through the prophet Isaiah that there are some bad things coming their way because of their penchant for seeking to find fulfillment in things, not God. They have turned their attention away from him and are worshiping the idols made by man, believing the false prophets of the world, and not obeying or seeking him first.

13 For after all this punishment, the people will still not repent.
They will not seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
14 Therefore, in a single day the Lord will destroy both the head and the tail,
the noble palm branch and the lowly reed.
15 The leaders of Israel are the head,
and the lying prophets are the tail.
16 For the leaders of the people have misled them.
They have led them down the path of destruction. (Isaiah 9:13-16) NLT

Yet even in his anger, he gives them the hope that he would again pull the remnant of believers back to him.

20 In that day the remnant left in Israel,
the survivors in the house of Jacob,
will no longer depend on allies
who seek to destroy them.
But they will faithfully trust the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel.
21 A remnant will return;
yes, the remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.
22 But though the people of Israel are as numerous
as the sand of the seashore,
only a remnant of them will return.
The Lord has rightly decided to destroy his people.
23 Yes, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
has already decided to destroy the entire land. (Isaiah 10:20-23) NLT

There is One who is coming to make all things right.

In that day the heir to David’s throne[b]
will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The nations will rally to him,
and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.[c]
11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time
to bring back the remnant of his people—
those who remain in Assyria and northern Egypt;
in southern Egypt, Ethiopia,[d] and Elam;
in Babylonia,[e] Hamath, and all the distant coastlands.
12 He will raise a flag among the nations
and assemble the exiles of Israel.
He will gather the scattered people of Judah
from the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 11:10-12) NLT

All this was prophesized hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.

Then, we have Paul who has come to understand these scriptures and how they pointed to Jesus. Having encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul now has been given the mission of persuading both Jews and Gentiles that this was always part of God’s plan to save us. He uses the scriptures that the Jews are well acquainted with to prove his point. However, we know not all the Jews accepted his words and so Paul turned to the Gentiles. Paul ends this chapter with praise to God for His great plan for the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles.

33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!

34 For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
Who knows enough to give him advice?[l]
35 And who has given him so much
that he needs to pay it back?[m]

36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

Lord, thank you for the plan of salvation that has been prophesied since the beginning. I am so blessed to be on the other side to see your glorious plan through the death and resurrection of Jesus. I pray to be as bold as Paul and spread this good news to others by the direction of the Holy Spirit. Your word is as alive and applicable today as it was when Paul taught the early believers. All glory to You forever. In Jesus name. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Isaiah 1-3; Romans 1

18 “Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool.
19 If you will only obey me,
you will have plenty to eat.
20 But if you turn away and refuse to listen,
you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies.
I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Isaiah 1:18-20) NLT

There are times the Lord has warned me—“that is not a good choice you are making.” He’s spoken to me through his word. But I, like the Israelites, tend to be “stiff-necked” and wanting my own way. Surely, I know better. What can be the harm of doing things my way? So, the proverbial “sword of your enemies” enters the picture. I tend to learn some lessons the hard way! Thankfully, there is repentance. Through Jesus, my sins are white as snow.

16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.[g] 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (Rom 1:16-17) NLT

I believe the Good News about Christ. I believe Jesus forgives my sins. Oh, how I wish he didn’t have to forgive as many as he does. I am thankful he makes me aware. The longer I walk with him, the more it grieves me when I haven’t acted as I know he would want me to act. I lose my temper, I say unkind words, I miss opportunities to be his hands and feet out of fear or because I’m just “too busy”. I complain way too much instead of trusting. If I look through my lens, I certainly don’t see a person becoming more like Jesus. But that is what is so good about the Good News. He does see the changes; he does not give up on me. With every pound of that hammer on the nails that held him to the cross, he showed how much he loves me and wants me to be with him. I am righteous because of him.

Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world. God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart[d] by spreading the Good News about his Son.

10 One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. 11 For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. 12 When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. (Romans 1:8-12)

My small group has recently completed studying the book of Acts which is the account of how the church began and grew. As we read through the book, I could not help but notice how often Paul spoke of his prayers. In particular, he prayed to go to Rome. God answered that prayer after many years but certainly not in the way he expected. He went through so much hardship getting there: shipwrecks, flogging, imprisonment to mention a few. Yet he “counted it all joy” to suffer for Christ. How often do I pray for an opportunity to serve but I am unwilling (or complain) about the path God has chosen to answer that prayer? He was willing to endure whatever God asked in order to spread the Good News.

I love the basic principle he brought out— “I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” I have noticed how much it encourages me to hear someone else’s testimony of faith. As thankful as I am to have my own testimony to share, it excites me to hear about God working in someone else’s life. Just that act of listening to someone else can be a gift to both of us.

Lord, I pray for the opportunity to encourage others by sharing my story and to be encouraged by listening to theirs. The Good News of Jesus and his love for us is too good to keep to ourselves. I pray to be as focused as Paul to tell as many people as possible of eternal life through belief in Jesus. In his mighty name I pray. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Kings 4-5; Psalm 83; Matthew 27

God is such a personal God and his timing never ceases to amaze me. Being single and reaching retirement age (too quickly I might add) has begun to concern me. What if I get sick? What if I don’t have enough retirement saved up? What if, what if, what if. Fear can be overwhelming if I let it. I have prayed about this A LOT. It is difficult for me to let go and trust God in this area—I feel I need to control everything.

Recently when I’ve taken this to him, he gave me the word “manna”. Manna? What does that mean Lord? You gave the Israelites manna every day, they weren’t to take more than a day’s worth except on Sabbath, it was your provision for them for 40 years. Hmmm! Enter today’s readings in 2 Kings 4.

 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

God provided for her to pay her debts and have money to live.

11 One day when Elisha came, he went up to his room and lay down there. 12 He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite.” So he called her, and she stood before him. 13 Elisha said to him, “Tell her, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?’”

She replied, “I have a home among my own people.”

14 “What can be done for her?” Elisha asked.

Gehazi said, “She has no son, and her husband is old.”

15 Then Elisha said, “Call her.” So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. 16 “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.”

“No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!”

17 But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.

God provided a son to take care of his parents in their old age. He became sick and died, but Elisha brought him back to life.

43 “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked.

But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” 44 Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.

I am well acquainted with the verses quoted which are all examples of God’s provision. Yet today when I read them they became personal. God was using them to teach me, to assure me, to remind me of his great love for me. Has he not taken care of me thus far in my life? Yes! Did he not provide for me the year I was unemployed? Yes!! Emphatically yes! Why do I doubt him now? The idea of “the rest of my life” has a big question mark as to the length of time. Manna is God assuring me that he took care of his chosen people for 40 years, but they had to live trusting him day by day. And every day the manna showed up. God never changes. He will provide for me as he did for the widow, the Shunamite woman, and the hundreds. Everyone had enough.

Lord, learning to live in that place of trusting you daily is an on-going process for me. I thank you that you speak to me, assure me, give me examples right from your word that you hear me. I can rest as long as I stay in today. The future is in your hands—not mine. I surrender it to you. In Jesus name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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