Author Archives: gardnlady

1 Kings 16; Colossians 3; Ezekiel 46; Psalm 102

A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble, pouring out problems before the Lord.

Lord, hear my prayer!
    Listen to my plea!
Don’t turn away from me
    in my time of distress.
Bend down to listen,
    and answer me quickly when I call to you. (Ps 102:1-2) NLT

The introduction of this Psalm caught me off guard. For some reason, I think the Lord wanted me to remember a time when my heart was breaking and there were no words to speak as I found myself kneeling beside my bed, weeping—possibly wailing—before the Lord. These were the unspoken words of my heart. Hear me Lord, please listen to me. I need you! I needed God for comfort, I needed him so much. His face was the only one I wanted to see, his voice the only one I wanted to hear. In my mind, I pictured myself with my head on his lap and his hand stroking my hair. That picture in my mind was what got me through that night. I felt his love for me; I felt the calm come over me. He didn’t turn, he heard. He bent down and listened.

23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. (Col 3:23-24) NKJV

I’ve had to make this verse a mantra. Working has certainly brought a vast array of personalities into my life. What I learned from this is how God used the challenging co-workers to show me weaknesses about myself, character traits he wanted to change in me, and to trust his purpose for putting me in a specific place working for a specific person. It was difficult for me to see it when I was walking through it, and there were times I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. There was a season where every day I had to tell God, “I’m doing this for you.” But the blessing was a deeper walk with him and a better understanding of who he created me to be.

34 In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the Lord, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun. (1 Kings 16:34) NKJV

I couldn’t remember what Joshua had spoken so I looked it up:  “Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, “Cursed be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.” (Josh 6:26 NKJV)”

God was serious about the city of Jericho being left as a reminder that he was the one who had destroyed this city. Those were harsh words with a heady promise attached to them. I really wish the bible said more about this. I had so many questions. It’s obvious Ahab was not following the Lord as the previous verses tell us he did more to anger the Lord than did all the kings before him.  But I wonder if Hiel was aware and knew the price he would pay to obey the king by once again fortifying Jericho’s walls. This was work—but certainly not unto the Lord!

Heavenly Father, I saw such a depth to who you are in these verses. You are the Tender Comforter, the Teacher and Gardener pruning the unhealthy branches from me, and the God of Judgment whose word stands. Thank you for allowing me to know even a small part of you. In Jesus name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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

Restore us, O God;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved. (Ps 80:3)

Restore us, God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved. (Ps. 80:7)

Restore us, Lord God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved. (Ps. 80:19)

The Israelites were under attack once more and about to be overtaken by a foreign enemy. They had not obeyed the Lord, they worshipped false gods, and about to suffer what God warned them would happen. As the psalm progresses, I found it interesting how the pleas had changed. I could feel the urgency of the request growing—almost as if God’s place in the writer’s heart was being restored. I know there are times I need God, but I think I only half need him because in my mind I’ve really got everything under control. My prayers certainly reflect that attitude. Then there are times I REALLY need God. Only his sovereign power can intervene. As I pour out my heart to him, I am overwhelmed by the great need I have for him. I think this writer was working through the realization of what was about to happen and called upon the strength of the LORD God Almighty.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1)

God never meant for us to be enslaved. It was not until sin came into the picture that humanity suffered bondage. We have looked to other things to satisfy the longing only God can fill in us. Those “things” entrap us. Our enemy uses them against us in our weakness. In my own power, I cannot overcome them. When I stand firm, yoked to Jesus, I am not left to my own devices. I cannot wander from him. I don’t have to go through anything alone. Because of Jesus, I am no longer under the Law. His death on the cross and my belief in him has saved me. He paid the price I could never pay.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

From a heart of love and knowledge of God’s grace and forgiveness, I can choose to love and serve others. It is not always easy for my sinful flesh to do this. I don’t always want to love my neighbor. My flesh has ugly thoughts sometimes. I admit I sometimes serve out of sheer obedience and not with a cheerful heart. But it amazes me how my heart follows my actions. When I take “self” out of the picture and allow God to work through me, it changes everything. Something I thought I would hate becomes something that fills me with joy because I could feel God’s pleasure in me.

I have learned that freedom comes with boundaries. God sets those boundaries for us. The Israelites pushed beyond those boundaries God set and suffered the consequences. God heard their cries and came to their rescue. He does the same for me. I have suffered the consequences of my actions and see them now as teaching moments—though I admit I didn’t at the time! Even in those times, I can look back and see his goodness, his lovingkindness towards me, and how he only wants what is best for me.

Oh Lord, my journey with you has been such an adventure. You have taught me so much, and continue to do so through your word, through the teachings of others, and through life experiences. How many times have I learned to do it right because I am such a stiff-necked child and did what I wanted to do, and you let me fall? Yet, every time, you gently pick me up and give me an opportunity to try again. Thank you, Lord, for the freedom I find in following you. Thank you, Lord, for the freedom I have from the bondages that weighed me down. I gladly take on the yoke of Jesus. In his name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Samuel 11; 2 Corinthians 4; Ezekiel 18; Psalm 62, 63

In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. (2 Sam 11:1) NLT

I have often wondered why David decided to stay behind. From what we know of David, he was a mighty warrior, leading the troops of Israel against their enemies. Yet this particular time he stayed back. Whatever the reason, it was a decision that changed his life. All it took was a stroll on the roof, his eyes seeing something they shouldn’t, and his thoughts going where they shouldn’t. He wanted what he wanted even though it was something that didn’t belong to him. When we sin, we tend to think no one will ever know or we’ll never get caught. Except sin has a way of revealing itself—which it did when Bathsheba became pregnant. And so the web of lies and deceit begins.  

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done. (2 Sam 11:16-27)

A sin cannot be hidden from God. There are always repercussions for the choices we make. In David’s case, his family was riddled with division (“the sword will never depart from your house”). There are ripple effects to sin and innocent people can get hurt. I know this to be true in my own family. Choices were made and it started a string of events that left great pain in its wake. Trust was broken, relationships were shattered, and great division remained where once there was unity. It can impact generations.

30 “Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! 31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? 32 I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live! (Ez 18:30-32)

Repentance! How cleansing it is for the soul. God has given us grace. Even though sin has its price, we can repent and draw close to God once more. He loves us and he will help us change. He can restore broken relationships, he can mend a shattered heart, and with his help we can learn to trust again. There is hope instead of despair.  I know this to be true as well. I have witnessed the work of the Lord in restoring a family that had been torn apart. His hand was all over the chain of events and details that had to be in place so at just the right time hearts were ready to forgive. To this day I am still in awe of his great work. (Isaiah 43:19- “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”).

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. (2 Cor 4:8-9) NLT

David repented of his sin. He was restored to right relationship with God. Yet the consequences were set in motion by his actions. Yes, David and Bathsheba had Solomon, and the LORD loved him (12:24). But there were many family battles to come.

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (Ps 63:1-5) NIV

Lord, how thankful I am you have provided a way back to relationship with you. You taught me to repent and get beyond the shame of my own actions. You taught me how to give others grace and forgiveness for sins committed against me. I have seen you change the hardest of hearts. You are the lifter of my head. I have seen your goodness and how it can change a life—starting with my own! Your love is better than life! I will praise you as long as I live! In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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1 Samuel 25; 1 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 4; Psalm 40, 41

29 “Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling! 30 When the Lord has done all he promised and has made you leader of Israel, 31 don’t let this be a blemish on your record. Then your conscience won’t have to bear the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance. And when the Lord has done these great things for you, please remember me, your servant!”

32 David replied to Abigail, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! 33 Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. 34 For I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning.” 35 Then David accepted her present and told her, “Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.” (1 Sam 25:29-35)

David’s encounter with Abigail was such a blessing to him. Not only did she bring him and his men food, she also saved him from doing something foolish—quite the irony since the name “Nabal” means fool. He had set in his heart to avenge the act of one man by slaughtering all the males in his household. He would have had innocent blood on his hands. The future King of Israel, the man after God’s own heart. It was not God sending him to do battle, it was his own pride at being slighted and dismissed. He would have been using his power as a leader for his own benefit. I thought of Prov. 16:18—Pride goes before destruction . . .

Don’t I need an “Abigail” in my own life? Someone who will talk sense into me at a time when I have let my emotions get the better of me and I’m about to do something foolish? Something I will regret that has long-lasting repercussions? Pride is such a battle at times. It can cause me to shut my ears to God and what I know God wants. It’s behind hurtful words I might say that crush another person’s spirit. It’s what can keep me from serving others. It’s what I call the ugly in me and it comes out sometimes when I least expect it. That is not how Jesus taught us to live. He modeled humility. I am thankful to have people in my life who will call me to account. I have a God who knows how to humble me when I need to be reminded. It is a God who loves me so much.

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
    and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
    They will put their trust in the Lord. (Ps. 40:1-3)

Yes, that is my testimony. I’m not always great about the “waiting patiently” part. I feel it was more him who waited patiently for me to seek him. When I did, he heard my cry. Who I am now compared to who I was when I was living in that self-made pit—well, all I can say is I have a reason to sing! I am a work in progress. But with the weight of shame lifted from my soul, I can praise my God. I can surrender to him when he shows me that pride. He wants only the best for me and from me.

Oh Lord, you and I have quite a story to tell. I thank you for your saving grace; I thank you for your unfailing love that fills my empty heart. I thank you for the times I see your blessings in my life, and I thank you for the times I see your correction. I thank you I can confess that ugly that shows itself and you forgive me. I thank you for the friends you’ve brought into my life who speak truth to me, encourage me, and make sure I always look to you.

Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen (Ps 41:13)

Cindy (gardnlady)

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1 Samuel 10; Romans 8; Jeremiah 47; Psalm 23, 24

Romans 8 is filled with hallmark verses of my faith in Christ. Paul has written such hope-filled words.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

This was such good news to the believers Paul was addressing. They had lived their lives trying to follow the Law—which was impossible to keep. It must have been such a sense of relief to be set free from generations of living under the law of sin and death. Grace has come to set us free. I know the shame from my past held me in a place of bondage for so many years. These verses were key to my recovery. Knowing that I am not condemned in the eyes of Jesus, well that set me free! Knowing he loves me just as I am, that he has forgiven my sins, and has given me life through the Holy Spirit made all the difference.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

I sometimes need to remind myself that what is happening now, whatever trial I’ve walked through or will walk through, is temporary.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our heartsknows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedesfor God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the goodof those who love him, whohave been calledaccording to his purpose.

God has a purpose for everything. Walking through trials or experiencing times in the desert when I’ve not heard from him and can’t understand what he’s doing have led to some pretty emotional bouts of wrestling with God. When I am able to look back from the other side, I can see how God changed me. I can see there was good. Even when I haven’t been able to see it, he’s taught me to trust his plans, his ways of doing things, and that he’s sovereign.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

I can rest in peace knowing God is for me. He does nothing that would harm me, it is all for my good. That belief comes from walking daily with him, having fellowship and communion with him, and letting his words take root in my heart.

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of Godthat is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Knowing God loves me and that nothing can change that makes trusting him possible. He has taught me trust comes with time and consistency. He is constant, never changes, and has all the time in the world for me. Without this heart knowledge, I would never have been able to believe verse 1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King(of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty—
    he is the King of glory. (Ps 24:7-10) NIV

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
  Forever. (Ps. 23:6) NKJV

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful for grace. Your presence in my life keeps me going no matter what obstacles have come my way. There are times you made me go deeper to find you, but your word says when I come and pray to you, you will listen and when I seek you with all my heart I will find you. You have never let me down. Thank you for being constant. In Jesus name. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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