Author Archives: gardnlady

Leviticus 12-14; Psalm 111; Hebrews 5

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:7-10) NIV

When I am struggling with a problem, why is it prayer is not always the first solution that pops into my head? Depending on the situation, my first reaction might be an emotional outburst of some kind, or a plan of attack for what I am going to do to solve the problem, or I might take the phone a friend option.  Prayer is such a smarter choice!

Jesus example was to go to his father for everything. We are told of the times he got up early in the morning to spend time with God. I believe these verses give us some insight into that special time they shared in prayer.  Out of compassion, he would tearfully cry out for the needs of the people.  He would commune with his father waiting for direction, and then, out of reverent submission, he would go about his day doing only what his father told him to do.

Over the years of my journey with God, I have realized something about prayer. First, it aligns my position with God.  I am recognizing his power and I am giving him control and Lordship over my life.  The second thing is that I am asking him into my situation and I don’t have to try to figure things out alone.  He knows of my struggles and knows the solution.  Having tried to do life on my own for so many years, reaching out to him has eased the burden of fear.  The time we share together in prayer is what fills my soul.

Even knowing this, prayer does not always come naturally to me—yet!  (I am a work in progress.)  There are times when it has to be intentional.  One of the things I’ve been trying to do is praying with someone immediately if they ask for prayer or writing a prayer and sending it in an email or text so they know I followed through.  Then in my quiet time I pray for them again.   There have been some “fervent cries and tears” as God and I have walked through life.  I can’t imagine my life without his presence.

He has paid a full ransom for his people.  He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has! 10 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.  All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.  Praise him forever!  (Psalm 111:9-10) NLT

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful for Jesus. He made the way for me to have a relationship with you.  He paid the ransom for me; he rescued me from eternal death.  He is the high priest making intercession on my behalf.  Because of him, my prayers reach you.  The time you spend with me is precious. The lessons you’ve taught me are priceless.  Help me continue to obey you and grow in wisdom.  In Jesus holy name I pray.  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Exodus 19-21; Psalm 33; Ephesians 5

18 But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.  19He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. (Psalm 33:18-19) NLT

I have never experienced a famine. The pictures we see of those who are in the midst of it and living in a society where it is the norm make me want to cry.  I want to send them all food out of my abundance.  I feel compassion for these people with all my heart.

Looking back over my life, there is a time I can picture my soul looking exactly like the people we see living in a country that knows nothing but famine, people who are starving—it was emaciated and near death from lack of spiritual food. I believe it is referred to as the dark night of the soul. The sadness and depression were weighing me down and eating at my insides.  I had no hope.  At that time, there was nothing of God in my life.  I knew who God was in my head but did not yet have the heart knowledge of Him.  I cried out to him and His hand reached down and found me in my pit.  I grabbed tight when He called my name.  It was as if He said, “Baby girl, enough of doing life your way.”  I had lived in that land of famine for so long I didn’t even know a different way.  He showed me what I was missing most–I was missing the bread of life (John 6:35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.)  I was starving because I was missing the only food that truly feeds my soul—the Word of God.  Jesus rescued me from death.

20 We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.

Heavenly Father–Every day I need to rely on your unfailing love. It is what fills me, sustains me, lifts me when I begin to feel defeated, and gives my heart a reason to rejoice.  My hope is in you alone, Lord.  Your well never runs dry. My neediness is never too much for you.  Thank you for breathing life into my soul.  In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Genesis 43-44; Psalm 24; Galatians 1

26 When Joseph came home, they gave him the gifts they had brought him, then bowed low to the ground before him. 27 After greeting them, he asked, “How is your father, the old man you spoke about? Is he still alive?” (Genesis 43:26-27) NIV

14 Joseph was still in his palace when Judah and his brothers arrived, and they fell to the ground before him. 15 “What have you done?” Joseph demanded. “Don’t you know that a man like me can predict the future?” (Genesis 44:14-15) NIV

As the brothers bowed before him, Joseph’s dreams that he told his brothers and father have now come to pass! God had shown him back in Chapter 37 this was going to happen. He had two dreams and here they are bowing down to him on their second visit.

In my imagination, I see a young Joseph strutting around like a peacock in the coat his father gave him. He knew his father favored him.  As far as we know, none of the other brothers had ever gotten a gift so fine.  (A part of me wants to be “the favorite”!  There is pride that comes from that desire.)  I am sure there was a lot of resentment in that household.  The mothers’ battle to win the affections of Jacob would cause enough dysfunction in any home. The jealousy of the other brothers grew.  There was no doubt Jacob loved Leah more so the sons borne to her seemed to have a deeper love in their father’s hearts.  (But Jacob replied, “My son will not go down with you. His brother Joseph is dead, and he is all I have left. If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.[b]) Gen 42:38

Despite the actions of his brothers, God had great plans for Joseph–but he had to endure some hardships along the road. I believe God used them to humble him and chip away at any pride he had as well as mature him.  Being a servant was a vastly different role for Joseph.  Yet, his innate leadership skills could not help but surface.  It didn’t matter if he was serving in Potiphar’s home or deep in the dungeon.  His unique giftedness shone through.

I have noticed that in my own life. It is almost as if God puts me in certain situations where my own gifts are needed and I can’t even stop myself from using them—they just emerge.  I am an analytical problem-solver.  If I am in a group setting and no one has taken charge, I really have to pray about whether or not to get things going because I would just jump in and do it (God has had to teach me patience in that area).  I am an encourager.  God has had to teach me when to speak and when to remain silent (still working on THAT one), but sometimes saying nothing and just hugging someone is all the encouragement they need.  Words have no impact.

I found it interesting that Judah was the one who stepped up to the plate and offered himself as a slave instead of his brother Benjamin. It was his idea in the first place to sell Joseph off to the Ishmaelite traders. His genealogical line produces David and ultimately our Lord Jesus.  We just never know how God is going to bring good out of a situation.

Heavenly Father, I find the story of Joseph so encouraging in my own walk with you. He went through some pretty tough circumstances but you were always with him.  You orchestrated events so he was in the right place at the right time for your purpose.  I believe there are promises from you in my own life that you are working out.  I ask for the patience and endurance to continue walking with you until you get me where you want me.  The journey with you is one I would never change.  Thank you for loving me so much.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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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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