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Exodus 36; Proverbs 12; John 15; Ephesians 5

In reading all of these passages I quickly noticed how generous God is in giving us the details.  In the building of the tabernacle we are told all the details of what was made:

The length of each curtain was twenty-eight cubits and the width of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains had the same measurements. 10 He joined five curtains to one another and the other five curtains he joined to one another. 11 He made loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain in the first set; he did likewise on the edge of the curtain that was outermost in the second set. 12 He made fifty loops in the one curtain and he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was in the second set; the loops were opposite each other. 13 He made fifty clasps of gold and joined the curtains to one another with the clasps, so the tabernacle was a unit.” (Exodus 36:9-13 NASB) The description continues through the end of the chapter…

In the Proverbs passage we are given a contrast between what a righteous person looks like versus a wicked one.

“The way of the fool is right in his own eyes,

But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.

A fool’s anger is known at once,

But a prudent man conceals dishonor.

He who speaks truth tells what is right,

But a false witness, deceit.” (Proverbs 12: 15-17)

Jesus tells us in detail how the world will view us since we love Him.  They will hate us because they hated Him.  We are definitely living this today.  It’s often painful to turn on the news to hear how God’s values have been corrupted.

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ (John 15: 18-25)

But the good news is that we must be doing something right when they hate us, because they see us as different.  God wants us to be set apart and look different to the world.  So how are we to proceed in this world that hates us?  Once again God gives us detailed instructions.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Ephesians 5: 15-21)

Lord,

Thank you for being a God of details.  You have given us clear instructions of right versus wrong and how to be set apart as your people.  When we get bogged down by the world hating us, help us to remember the reason you want us to look different.  You want Your light to shine through us so that people may come to You for salvation.

Amen!

Kellie

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Ex. 6; Luke 9; Job 23; I Cor. 10

Why is it that so many times we want to follow the Lord’s leading but change our minds?  We know the right thing to do but choose the easy way out instead. This happened over and over with Pharoah when Moses tried to get him to let his people go.  Each time there was relief from a plague that God had sent, he went back to his old ways.

15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said. (Exodus 8:15 NASB)

    But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said. (Ex. 8:19)

    32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go. (Ex.8:32)

The Lord offers us an invitation to ask Him for our heart’s desires.  He will give us what we need, and quite often, what we want.  Maybe we don’t believe it’s true because it seems so simple.

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; [i]knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

There is nothing that our God cannot do for us if He so chooses.  His power is immeasurable.  We can only begin to comprehend.

The pillars of Heaven tremble and are amazed at His rebuke.  

    He quieted the sea with His power,

    And by his understanding He shattered Rahab.

    By His breath the Heavens are cleared;

    His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent.

    Behold, these are the fringes of His ways;

    And how faint a word we hear of Him!

    But His mighty thunder, who can understand?” (Job 26:11-14)

He uses the church to make up the body and help one another.

 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body.21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, [m]it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we [n]deem less honorable, [o]on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no [p]division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is [q]honored, all the members rejoice with it. (I Corinthians 12:18-28).

Lord,

You are more powerful than we can even begin to understand here on Earth!  Help us to choose to do Your will even when it’s not the easy choice.  Help us to ask for our heart’s desires, letting you show off your majesty for us with blessings.  And help us to appreciate how you’ve made us all in Your image with a purpose for Your body of believers.

Amen!

Kellie

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Ex. 6; Luke 9; Job 23; I Cor. 10

 It’s February.  So as I type this, I lay in bed under a bunch of blankets.   The heat is turned up and there is a cup of coffee at my side.  I’m warm and cozy.  It’s 19 degrees outside.  I DREAD those first 5 minutes driving to work before the car warms up.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”   Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”   Luke 9:57-58

I love spending time with my family. During the most ordinary of times, while watching television or having dinner, there is no place I would rather be than with my family.  So, naturally I give priority to my family on significant occasions such as weddings and funerals.

He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”   Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”    Luke 9:59-60

I’m a planner.  I can see myself doing something momentous for the Lord, but it would have to be well planned. For example, if I was headed off to a mission field, I would need the time to make sure all my affairs were in order at home, before I left.

 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”  Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:61-62

This is a tough passage!  I’ve studied it myself and researched what many commentators have said hoping to find the loophole.  The bottom line is that Jesus is telling me that my comfort, societal norms, and my preferences are of little value compared to following him.  The work he has set out for me is urgent and requires great personal sacrifice.

Am I listening?

Lord,

I confess that I struggle with the cost of following you.  Provide me a glimpse of the treasure that lies ahead of me that I may more willingly leave all behind to follow you.  Amen.

Greg (gmd40187)

From the archives. Originally published February 23, 2011.

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Gen. 47; Luke 1:1-38; Job 13; I Corinthians 1

Belief and unbelief.

Joseph trusted in God. His brothers trusted in their own plans (their plot to be rid of a little brother–good thing for them that God had other plans!).

Job was grappling with faith in the midst of an unimaginable hardship. His friends were at work to find his human flaws to justify punishment.

Zechariah asked a question of the messenger–Mary did too!–but what was at work on a heart level differentiated them. One, who was perhaps doubtful. The other, seeking.

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Luke 1:1:38 NLT.

Paul talks about God using the least expected to confound the wise–and it’s splayed across chapters: a brother sold into slavery who becomes a leader … a wealthy man who loses everything in moments … a virgin girl and a barren, old woman to both conceive children who would change everything … and even Paul, hater turned lover of Christ.

26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NLT.

Overall, a message of being chosen, and a reminder that nothing is impossible with God.

Courtney (66books365)

From the archives. Originally published February 14, 2013.

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Genesis 29; Matthew 28; Esther 5; Acts 28

God loves us even though “we know not what we do.”  His will is always done in spite of the deceptive behaviors of His people.

Laban deceived Jacob.

23 Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. 24 Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. 25 So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 But Laban said, “It is not [g]the practice in our place to [h]marry off the younger before the firstborn.27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.” (Genesis 29: 23-27 NASB)

Elders deceived soldiers about Jesus’ resurrected body.

12 And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and [d]keep you out of trouble.” 15 And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day. (Matthew 28:12-15 NASB)

Esther deceived Haman to catch him in his schemes.

So Esther replied, “My petition and my request is:if I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and do [e]what I request, may the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do [f]as the king says.” (Esther 5:7-8 NASB)

The Holy Spirit spoke through Paul to change the people’s deceptive hearts.

    “Go to the people and say, you will keep on hearing, but will not

Understand; and you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;

For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears

They scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes; otherwise

They might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and

Understand with their hearts and return, and I would heal them.”

(Acts 28:27 NASB)

Lord, search our hearts for any sign of deception that might keep us from You.  Give us the discernment to do Your will always.

-Kellie

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Genesis 22, Matthew 21, Nehemiah 11, Acts 21

Scripture – God tested Abraham and said to him, … “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering….”

“… Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns…. Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide (Gen. 22:1-14 NLT condensed)

Observation – In this scene, Abraham’s faith is tested. He is found willing to sacrifice his only son, believing God could raise him from the dead. In the nick of time, God provides a substitutionary sacrifice in place of Isaac, a “ram in the thicket.” Abraham responds by naming the place, Jehovah-jireh (The-LORD-Will-Provide.)

This is a foreshadowing of what would take place thousands of years later. It is the ‘cross-scene’ of the Old Testament. God provided for all of us His only begotten son, the Lamb of God. He died in our place, as our substitute, on a cross outside the walls of Jerusalem, in an area long ago known as… Moriah… the LORD did provide.

Application – The applications of this text are limitless, but my mind could not let go of this one concept and its implications – God’s Provision. For days, I’ve been trying to reconcile the tension between His provision and my human perspective. Too often I’ve seen and probably used passages like this as Christian “band-aids for the world’s suffering. “You lost your job? “The cancer’s come back?” … Haiti?!… “Hang in there… God will provide.” Regardless of whether or not God provides the practical solutions to our present trials, He does promise to provide His presence.

How I reconcile this tension between God’s provision and my human perspective has a profound impact on how I view and experience life.

Will I accept everything this world brings, both the joys and the trials, as from the hand of God? Or, will I, in my pain and suffering, reason that He has not provided; won’t provide; or worse, doesn’t care enough to provide?

In Acts 21, the Apostle Paul’s destiny is foretold – to be bound and to suffer for Christ. Paul’s response? “For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” I have no doubt Paul held firm his faith in Jehovah-jireh even as the executioners ax fell. I’m convinced that the heroes of the faith never considered God’s provision to be what they could gain in this world.

So it seems, God’s provision is more about faith in His presence than it is about deliverance from life’s difficult circumstances. Though God is still very capable of providing “rams in thickets” and He often does, ultimately, the presence of Jesus Christ in my life is all I really need. His presence being the ultimate provision!

And… He’s promised the presence of His son to all who believe in His name.

Prayer – Jehovah-jireh, You have provided the peace that comes with your presence in spite of my circumstances. I’m thankful for the many “rams in thickets” You’ve sent my way, but I am most thankful for the Lamb of God, whose sacrifice opened the door allowing me to personally experience Your presence. You are my provision.

Paul

This post originally published in January 2010.

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Genesis 21; Matthew 20; Nehemiah 10; Acts 20

Some days before I even set my feet on the ground; I am overwhelmed with the day that lies before me.  Meetings, errands, deadlines, bills, appointments, cooking, cleaning….I pull my blanket up over my head and ask God to prepare me for my day.

Coffee in hand I really do try to read my Bible before the day begins, because I know that the words will fortify me for the day. Prepare me for the battles. Smooth the rough waters.  All that said there is one thing I have to bring to the table with me to receive my daily dose of sustenance.   Faith.  I have to faithfully believe that I can do all things through Christ, not just read it…I have to know that I can.

Paul…Now there is a person filled with the Spirit of faith.  How did his day begin?

I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.  Acts 21: 23-24

Wow…am I ever so glad that he was faithful and dedicated to finish the race.  Bet he never pulled the blanket back over his head.  Even though he knew what was before him.  Prison. Hardship. Plots to kill him. Trials.

Let’s see…where does he preach the gospel?  Um yeah.  Everywhere. Publicly. Homes….and later we will see him preaching on the way to prison and even while in prison. And he wasn’t shy about it either.  Never hesitating.  Not to a select groups but to both Jews and Gentiles.

Suddenly my list of things to do don’t look so daunting.

I can almost hear Paul talking to the Elders in the verses 13 – 37 of Acts.  Preparing them for what was to come.  What tasks lay before them?   Warning them to be on their guard.  But that was not what burdened them the most.  Their grief was from knowing that they would never see him again.  I am not only in awe of Paul’s faith, tenacity and humility…but for that respect that he gained by preaching the whole will of God.  Acts 20:27

Not making God seem fun and entertaining. Just telling the truth. Teaching and preaching about God’s sovereignty.

Paul can say with complete confidence that he had run the race without hesitation and without any thought for himself, he was focused on the finish; he knew that he had faithfully proclaimed the whole will of God everywhere he went.  He was confident that he was innocent of the blood of all men because of his urgency to preach the will of God.   He didn’t hold back.  He wasn’t worried that he would offend someone, or seem intolerant, close minded…He was only worried about getting the word to all the people.

Urgency to preach the will of God.

Where is that on my list?

Father…maybe I would not dread my days if the first and only thing on my list is to “preach your will”, then everything else would fall right into place because sharing you and your will with others should be my top priority everyday.  Here I am again surrendering my day and my list of tasks to you.  Prepare me for this day Lord.  Prepare me do your will with Paul’s humility and faith. In Jesus name. Amen

Cindi

From the archives. Originally posted on January 20, 2011.

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