Author Archives: gueston66books

Deut. 24; Ps.114,115; Isa. 51; Rev. 21

Over the past three years, life for my husband’s family has been rough. From unexpected deaths to tragic car accidents and everything in between, it has been a roller coaster. We have walked through very quick boughts of cancer where we fought hard and lost. Most recently, another cancer diagnosis on top of another family member’s serious motorcycle accident, has left us spending many days and nights in shock trauma and several other hospitals. Job loss, military deployment and simply day to day life has been difficult. After decades of seemingly wonderful blessings of good health and protection, the walls have come crashing down.

Just a few minutes ago I arrived home after taking the children to visit their 82-year-old great grandmother in the hospital. Her time left on earth is coming to a close and we were saying our goodbyes and praying for the Lord’s peace and comfort.

Life. Is. Hard.

We all go through seasons in our lives that take us up and down. Whether your experience was car accidents and failing health or something else, I’m sure you have suffered at some point in your life. But the Lord reminds us that he is always near. He always has been and always will be. Our sufferings and hardships draw us closer to him.

During the hardships while Israel was in captivity, they needed reminders of Gods’ power and his faithfulness. They needed to be reminded of all the trials the Lord had brought them through. We need the same reminders today.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.
Look to Abraham your father
and to Sarah who bore you;
for he was but one when I called him,
that I might bless him and multiply him.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;
but my salvation will be forever,
and my righteousness will never be dismayed.

“Listen to me, you who know righteousness,
the people in whose heart is my law;
fear not the reproach of man,
nor be dismayed at their revilings.
For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
and the worm will eat them like wool,
but my righteousness will be forever,
and my salvation to all generations.”  Isaiah 51

Life won’t necessarily get easier but through our hardships we can draw closer to the Lord and rely on him and most of all remember that his promises will come true because of his proven faithfulness over time. There are times when all I can do is cling to the last part of verse 8, “my righteousness will be forever and my salvation to all generations.”

Gram has been a very special lady in the lives of everyone she knew and even those she didn’t. She loved Jesus and his Church and cared for anyone and everyone around her. She was a hard worker, creative, fun-loving, deeply committed to her family and “Gram” to all. Though our hearts will mourn over our loss, we will rejoice in her healing and full restoration to health when she passes into the arms of Jesus.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21

Thank you, Lord for the time you give us to love one another and live these few moments on Earth with ones that we love. Lord Jesus, be near to the broken-hearted. Holy Spirit, bring peace and comfort to those suffering today and remind them of your faithfulness.

Kate (Kateredding)

From the archives. Originally published June 19, 2017.

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Numbers 11; Psalm 48; Isaiah 1; Hebrews 9

From the moment he stumbled off the big red bus from St. Louis School for the Blind, I knew I was headed for no ordinary week.

His name was Matthew “Bishop” Pendleton and he was one of Camp Barnabas‘ favorite personalities known for his fifteen minute renditions of old church hymns during meal times and a keen detest for anything that was not his keyboard. He disliked walking, taking showers, and cleaning up his plate during mealtimes. He was my responsibility for 23 hours a day, for five of the hardest days of my young life.

It wasn’t so much that Matthew didn’t want to participate in any fun camp activity that bothered  me–horses, canoes, ropes course–it was that he took twice as long as anyone else to get there. He would grope my arm as we stumbled in the Missouri heat 100 yards from the cabin to the dining hall, mumbling and snarling under his breath about the absurdity of the sticks on the path, and nearly pull me down with him whenever he tripped over one. When we finally arrived to the dining hall, he would gripe about everything put in front of him despite my best efforts to get him to eat.

Patience. I learned. Patience to absorb the complaints, patience to waddle along at any pace, patience to endure another chorus of “Victory is Mine.” Patience, as mine was tested and bent beyond what I thought I could handle.

I hear the same exasperated tone, that of a fed-up dad who’s heard just a little too much complaining, chased his kid down Aisle 11 one too many times, and asked politely for the final time, in Isaiah:

Ah, sinful nation,…
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the LORD;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.

Even with all of their sacrifices, harvest celebrations, and ritual prayers, God was fed-up with their disobedience (v. 13, 14). What God essentially wanted of his people was not atonement for their sins but righteousness revealed in their actions.

“learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.”

That week at Camp, I prayed daily  for God’s heart. I earnestly sought his thoughts and feelings for Matthew, because on my own I didn’t have the patience. And on a much smaller scale than in Isaiah, I think I felt some of His anguish when my camper misbehaved. I wanted so much for Matthew to cooperate. To just do ask I asked. To try to be positive. To understand what I was saying.

On the last morning of camp before we sent all of our new friends back to their families, we had eggs. And not even the good kind. I’m pretty sure they were powdered. But Matthew loved them. He ate two whole plates full and still wanted more. Without any griping or pushing, Matthew had done as I asked–willingly and joyfully. I can’t recall a greater sense of contentment and victory than in that moment.

Christian (From the archives. Originally published May 4, 2010.)

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Genesis 43, Mark 13, Job 9, Romans 13

Tick, tick, tick…10 and 9, 8 and 7, 6 and 5 and 4 call upon the Savior while you may; 3 and 2 coming through the clouds in bright array, the countdown’s getting lower every day!

Heavenly Father I come before you today to receive my daily dose of you and to ask you to not let me allow the clock to get down any lower before I take the right steps of obedience towards you.  I also lift up a prayer and blessing upon  our Nation and the leaders you have placed within it. I pray for guidance in their decision making and that they look to you for help and answers and not to themselves.  May I choose to obey and respect them as you commanded me too in Romans 13.  Thank you for being the ultimate authority in my life and for being available to speak to and praise your name 24/7.

I thank you for the overwhelming lessons scattered throughout these passages on your love and your commands to me to share that love to each person that I come into contact with. I ask for a humble heart combined with this love and that I may be a forgiving person to those who have brought me pain and frustration just as Joseph loved and forgave his brothers in Genesis 43 for the wrong they had done to him.  Life is too short to hold a grudge, dear Lord, so please take my present anger and cast it as far as the East is to the West!

Your word is filled with promises and reminders that this world is not my final home and as you tell me in Mark 13 “No one knows the day or hour when you will return” so my prayer  is that I continue to keep short accounts with you and if my faith is tested, such as Job’s was that I would not assume that you were out to destroy me and I would not begin wallowing in self pity, but rather that I would see the trial you have placed before me through your eyes and not mine, and I will stay faithful and at peace that you are strengthening and purifying me and using me as a testimony to others.

In Romans 13:14 you tell me to let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of me and it’s evident from these scriptures today that you desire for me to redress myself in clean righteous clothing, just as you reclothed Joseph in splendor after his dirty and blood stained jacket was shed, so, I give you my dirty laundry Lord and  full reign over my life and I ask for guidance and wisdom in honoring and glorifying your name and serving you.

Thank you again Father for making your word so readily available to me and for offering free salvation and love for all who will receive it! I pray this in your awesome precious name. Amen.

Erica (guest on 66 Books)

From the archives. Originally published February 10, 2013.

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Ezekiel 27-30; James 1

James 1:9 tells us to “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation,…”

Some may interpret this Scripture as a political sentiment leaning to the left – saying something like this: the poor will be given the wealth that the rich will have to give up.  However, James does not indicate in this passage that this is so. In fact, the profit of the lowly (poor) brother is one of perseverance through experiencing difficult circumstances which has the effect of perfecting his character and faith (thus, exaltation). The same effect is wrought for the rich brother who can glory (count it all joy) when he learns through experience that his pursuits for money and his wealth will fade away, thus teaching him he should always trust in the Lord, not himself or his money.

To be sure, if you are poor you are looking for a way to get what you need and want. Then again, if you are rich you are looking for ways to get more of what you need and want. What is different for each of them, then? The difference is not between the desires of the rich and the poor but between the man who trusts in the Lord and the one who does not. Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

There are many other such passages of Scripture that assure us that God cares for us and is with us in our time of need or plenty (Matthew 6:33, for example). There are just as many that speak about learning contentment in all circumstances (I Timothy 6:6-10 outlines godliness with contentment). So how does a Christian gain contentment at all times? The first rule of thumb is to remember in whose hands we are held. Jeremiah was given the task to remind God’s chosen people of this truth. In Jeremiah 18:1-6, [The Lord told Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s house.]  “The potter was making something at the wheel, and the vessel that he made was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the Lord said, “

‘…can I not do with you as this potter?’”

Now, I’ve never made pottery, but I am fascinated watching the potter work with clay and water, using his hands to build a base and shape an object, making adjustments or even starting over when the product collapses or tilts to the wrong side.  As long as the clay is wet and pliable, the potter continues to form and smooth the vessel until satisfied with the finished design. What an illustration of how God with expertise, patience, and purpose fashions us from the elements of this world into His chosen vessels capable of holding His Spirit to pour out His blessings.

Yes, it is hard to declare that there is purpose in going through trials when one is poor, and it even harder to say that a rich man should lose everything in order to learn godly contentment. (Hey, I’m just the messenger!) As Jeremiah lamented, “O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed,” Jeremiah 20:7 Yet, I, too am persuaded by this message that we all, rich or poor, should not trust in man but must trust only in the Lord our God.

Janet

From the archives. Originally published October 5, 2015.

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Leviticus 19-20; Acts 10; Ps. 13

Now when you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. It shall be eaten the same day you offerit, and the next day; but what remains until the third day shall be burned with fire. So if it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an offense; it will not be accepted. Leviticus 19:5-7

Isn’t interesting that the peace offerings of the Law were no longer acceptable on the third day? The purpose of this offering is “so that you may be accepted.” The sacrifice which makes us acceptable to God is no longer needed on the third day, the sacrifice is complete and we need it no longer. Could God have painted a more poignant picture of what was to come. I was completely blown away yet again at how even the Law points to Jesus. On the third day there is no longer need for a sacrifice. In fact any sacrifice left on the third day is detestable. On the third day the sacrifice is complete and peace has been made.

Wow! Could this passage be any more cool? The Law in itself is so dreary and oppressive, but woven within it is the hope of our salvation and peace. On the third day a sacrifice to make peace with God is no longer needed. I would say that two things come to mind in terms of application. First, we can rest complete and whole in the finished work of Christ the perfect sacrifice. We do not need to offer anything up for on the third day He rose again, conquered death and threw open the gates to God. It is finished! I just hope I never get over it. The second point that comes to mind is that we also tend to try to hold onto sacrifice after it is no longer needed. We all return to other things to make us acceptable when we already are. It is absurd and an offense to the perfect sacrifice of Christ for us to offer up anything else.

Father thank you that through Your sacrifice we are made eternally acceptable to you. Thank you for Jesus, the unblemished Lamb who takes away the sins of the world who has conquered sin and death once and for all and given us eternal life. We need nothing else. Amen!

M Hipsley (From the archives. Originally published on 66 Books in a Year on February 8, 2009.)

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