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Isaiah 11-13; Psalm 118; Matthew 27

As I read through the Isaiah chapters for today’s readings, they were filled with prophesy of Jesus’ coming.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-3) NIV

Psalm 118 also has words proclaiming Jesus–

22 The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad. (Psalm 118:22-24) NIV

The Israelites waited hundreds of years for this prophesy to come true. And yet, so many of them missed Him because of their expectations of what it would be like when He arrived. I wondered that about myself. How often do I miss Him because my idea of what being a follower of Jesus looks like is different than God’s?

Every day we are surrounded by the majesty of God in nature and creation. There are people in our lives who love us, walk through trials with us, cry with us, laugh with us, and are there through thick and thin. They are Jesus in the flesh to us. Of course, there are people who annoy us, criticize us, and commit heinous acts against us or our loved ones. Those are the times we have to gird up everything within us to be Jesus in the flesh for others. Those are the times I have to remember what Jesus went through for my sins to be forgiven.  That is what reminds me of what it is to be a true follower of Jesus.

Jesus came to this earth to show us who God the Father really is. He told us so many times that he only spoke what the Father wanted Him to say and do what the Father told Him to do. He taught us how to connect with our Creator and his act tore the veil that separated us.  It is finished.  Prophesy fulfilled.

I can’t imagine the concentration, focus, and fortitude it took to endure the cross and the mockery. Only total obedience to God the Father and the knowledge of knowing the purpose behind this crucifixion could have allowed the “Son of Man” to endure what was always the plan (Gen 3:15).

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. (Matt 27:38-44) NIV

Lord Jesus, may I never take for granted what you endured for me. One day I will see You face to face because of the cross. The Holy Spirit lives in me because of the cross. Nothing this life has thrown at me is worse than the agony you experienced. You were betrayed, denied, and mocked. You were tortured, beaten, and left to die in public humiliation. All for the Greatest Love anyone has ever shown humanity. All praises, honor, and glory to You forever and ever! Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

From the archives. Originally published August 21, 2018.

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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)

From the archives. Originally published January 23, 2018.

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2 Chronicles 3,4; 1 John 3; Nahum 2; Luke 18

Awe:

noun an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.

I have recently come to realize how under-inspired I have become. I have lost my sense of awe of the Creator of the universe. When the day to day life becomes mundane and boring, crazy and chaotic, I tend to take my relationship with the Lord for granted. When I am far from him, I forget the beauty of his splendor. Out of fear and reverence of the Lord, King Solomon not only built the history Temple but he spared no expensive. The temple Solomon built was not built out of pride for what he could afford or what he would be able to show off to the people around him like so many other Kings would have done, it was built out of sheer awe!

Back in 2 Chronicles 2 Solomon said,“5 The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him? 7″

Solomon didn’t take the left over money in his bank account to build the walls of the temple. He didn’t simply hire someone to make the plans and take care of the details. Out of reverence and honor, Solomon took his time and spared no expense. Bronze, silver and gold metals, rare wood materials and large fountains were all engineered and commissioned by skilled workmen brought from the east and the west. Solomon stopped at nothing to attempt to build a temple that would be adequate to hosue the Ark of the Covenant, the home of the Lord all while knowing nothing would ever really be good enough.

19 So Solomon made all the vessels that were in the house of God: the golden altar, the tables for the bread of the Presence, 20 the lampstands and their lamps of pure gold to burn before the inner sanctuary, as prescribed; 21 the flowers, the lamps, and the tongs, of purest gold;22 the snuffers, basins, dishes for incense, and fire pans, of pure gold, and the sockets[f] of the temple, for the inner doors to the Most Holy Place and for the doors of the nave of the temple were of gold. 2 Chronicles 4:19-22

Even reading the scriptures of Solomon’s temple I take for granted how beautiful and huge this temple was. My husband is a general contractor and works in the field of civil engineering. He cannot even fathom the logistics of how this was built let alone how the obtained the materials and afforded it. The details literally boggle the mind. And what boggles my mind even more is that it all started with Solomon’s fear and reverence for the Lord. He loved the Lord God so much that this was the outpouring of his heart.

So, I must ask myself this question. Do I live in fear and reverence of the Lord God Almighty who created the heavens and earth? Do I worship him in spirit in truth to express the awe that is within my heart? Do I stop at nothing to share that with others? I have a long way to go and am thankful that the Lord is gracious and merciful because often my answer to these questions is “no”.

Thank you, Father, for your incredible love, grace and mercy to me. O, Lord, You are great and greatly to be praised. There are not enough words to praise you and as Solomon said, who is able to build you a house since even the highest heaven cannot contain you. I stand in awe of you, Lord. Amen.

Katie

temple

From the archives. Originally published December 4, 2017.

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2 Kings 25; Hebrews 7; Amos 1; Psalm 144

Zedekiah repeats the errors of his father and leads his people in evil ways and God “thrusts them from his presence” 2 Kings 24:20.  They turn from Him and the fallout is horrendous. Jerusalem is taken. The last thing Zedekiah sees before his vision is permanently taken from him is the slaughter of his sons. He is put in shackles and carried off like a slave. The Temple is stripped of its precious metals and sacred items of worship are carted away. The priests and government officials are executed.

I think of Evanlaar’s post this past week about the rooms of our hearts, for now our very hearts serve as God’s holy temple. I see the parallel between what happened to the destruction of the Temple and what takes place when sin is allowed to rule the human heart. When the our hearts deny the cleansing presence of the Holy Spirit, that which God has called sacred, can be broken down and carted off for uses that have nothing to do with that for which they were made.

But Christ has interceded for us, once and for all. Jesus, our great High Priest can never be killed off. Satan already tried that and it backfired; the power of sin and death was broken. “…but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:24-25

Jesus died and rose from the dead so that nothing can destroy this new temple, the surrendered heart made to worship him. His cleansing blood, his righteousness makes my heart a sacred and holy place in which his presence can dwell. Even when I drift and turn away, Jesus is interceding for me. His love is a magnetic pull that calls me home, for He is the author and perfecter of my faith.

“He is my loving God and fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I take refuge… O Lord, what is man that you care for him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” Psalm 144:2-4

Lord Jesus, thank you for what you have done for me. Thank you that you declare my heart yours, holy and sacred, not based on what I have done, but on what you have accomplished. Holy Spirit, be at home in my heart in new ways today. Amen

Kathy

(From the archives. Originally published November 12, 2017.)

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1 Samuel 20; 1 Corinthians 2; Lamentations 5; Psalm 36

Our family has spent this whole week watching the vast Atlantic Ocean from the shoreline of our rental home. Relaxing & laughing with and loving on each other.

My oldest daughter recently shared with me an ocean fact that she read in a book, just before we left for our beach trip. The fact was about how much water there was in the oceans per person on the earth. She was not exactly sure what the correct figure was, so I thought I’d do that math.

There are 343,423,668,428,484,681,262 gallons of water in the oceans. The world population is approximately 7 billion. Dividing the first number by the second gives an answer of 49,060,524,061 gallons of ocean water per person on the earth. That’s alot of water!

Why all this ocean fact knowledge on 66 books?

“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O Lord, You preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

Psalm 36:5-7 NIV

Another ocean fact:

“Beneath the world’s oceans lie rugged mountains, active volcanoes, vast plateaus and almost bottomless trenches. The deepest ocean trenches could easily swallow up the tallest mountains on land.” *

So, when I read and contemplate these verses about the Lord’s love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice while at the ocean, I am consumed with the vastness of it.

Especially in light of verses 1 & 2…

“An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked. There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.”

How many times have I been like this wicked man David writes about? How many times have I acted in a sinful manner with no fear (respect) of God and His holiness? How easy it is to become tangled in the web of sin,  thinking that I deserve this or that, or that I have a right to act this way, or to think these thoughts. I have flattered myself in my eyes, so much that I do not detect and/or hate the sin that is consuming me.

But God’s love, oh His unfailing love is so vast, so merciful, so forgiving. When I turn from my sin and acknowledge Him as the Lord, He is so quick to show me grace and to cover me with His righteousness. God’s justice for the contrite is forgiveness and reconcillation, certainly not what I deserve or am due. What I deserve or am due is the opposite of what He gives, when I turn from my sin and accept His gift of redemption.

Lord,

Thank you once again for your unfailing love to me.

“You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19 NIV)

Your love is truly, wonderfully,  and magnificently amazing!

Amen.

– Beckie (look2thehills)

*http://www.mos.org/oceans/planet/features.html

from the archives, August 28, 2010

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