Author Archives: kateredding

Numbers 31, Psalms 75 & 76, Isaiah 23, 1 John 1

One of my favorite songs circa 1995 starts off with some hard to swallow truth. “I keep trying to find a life, on my own, apart from you.” Independence instead of dependence. Pride instead of humility. John begins the chapter  sharing the importance of fellowship with the One True God. From the beginning, it’s always been about relationship with Him and yet our human nature so frequently wants independence.

We focus on ourselves. Day in and day out we deceive ourselves. Our minds and hearts are put to ease when we compare to ourselves others and think, “I’m doing better at ________ than _________”. I have read the following passage probably one hundred times in my life but there are always new little pieces that stick out with each reading.

Deception. Selfishness. Pride. Forgiveness. Redemption.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. John 1

 

Simply put, this passage reminds me of my incredible need for a Savior! As much as a I want to walk in the light at all times, there moments, days or even seasons when the lights are dim. As I was sitting here this morning reflecting on this passage, the Holy Spirit brought a few questions to my mind.

  1. Is there any area where I am walking in darkness opposite from fellowship with the Lord?
  2. In what ways am I lying to or deceiving myself and not practicing truth?
  3. Are there areas of deception that I need to confess to the Lord?

Confession of sins not only leads to restoration of fellowship with the Lord but also one another. It’s Jesus’ blood that cleanses us from our sin and wanderings in the dark. Each and every day I must ask the  Holy Spirit to reveal those areas of sin that are not acceptable and spend time in self reflection and repentance. Naturally, on my own, I may not see my sin but the Spirit will reveal it.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for creating us with a desire for relationship. Thank your for making a way through Jesus Christ to be in fellowship with you forever. Holy Spirit, would you reveal to me those areas where I may be walking in darkness and help me to turn and run to your light! Amen. 

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Numbers 16, Psalms 52-54, Hebrews 13

 

I have to admit, I have never read this story in Numbers. I am pretty sure I would have remembered a story about the Earth opening up and swallowing a crowd of people. It’s a shocking ending to the events that took place as I take a step back and look at what lead to that consequence I find myself right there with him. Like Korah, how have I:

  • Questioned authority and who assigned it to them?
  • Challenged how they are leading?
  • Started a “rebellion” of my own by gossiping about the leader and convinced others that something needs to be done about their leadership?
  • Been jealous or not understood why someone was in authority over me?
  • Felt like I was a better fit for the job?

Thinking about how I am like Korah reminds me of several times in my life both in ministry and in the workplace that I have been discontent it those the Lord has placed in leadership over me. I am a very independent person and like to control things. I feel very strongly about my opinions which can make working “under” someone very difficult.

Korah was discontent. Things were not going like he and his friends thought they should go. But Korah wasn’t really challenging Moses and Aaron, was he? No, when we challenge our leaders, we are really challenging the Lord for He is the one who set ups leaders and rulers over us both in and out of ministry. Certainly, there are times, seasons and leaders who are not following the Lord’s calling and will. Dictators and ruthless authorities have always been around. But in our everyday life, I can see myself often challenging leadership out of selfish ambition and gain. So here are a few questions I must ask myself when evaluating those in authority:

  • Am I seeking to glorify God or receive my own fame?
  • Have I prayed about the situation and for the leader over me?
  • Do I simply not agree with their opinion or is what they are asking of me against the word of God?
  • Am I making their job more difficult by my attitude? Am I stirring up strife by trying to convince others of my personal opinion of their leadership?
  • Am I simply jealous for control because I think my way is better?

These can be some really tough questions to ask. When I sit down with the Lord and really dig deep, I am often ashamed and disappointed it the answers I find. I am so grateful that His grace is sufficient for me!

Hebrews 13:17 reminds us:

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

In this case, I believe the writer was referring to our pastors and teachers but in every case of authority this rings true. At the end of the day, I am not responsible for how they lead but how I follow. My goal is to follow them with joy and without groaning and complaining.

Father, forgive me for the times I have wanted to gain control for my own pride and fame. Help me each day to pray for those you have placed in authority. Help me to trust that ultimately you are in control. God, “you are my helper and the upholder of my life” and you will one day put an end to the evil rulers and reward those who are obedient. Amen.

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Numbers 1, Psalm 35, Ecclesiastes 11, Titus 3

“I don’t believe in heaven and hell. I don’t know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this life – the only thing I know to exist – to be wasted.” (Celebrity quote)

Although there have always been naysayers and critics of God’s true word, I feel like we are living in a culture that is more self dependent and selfish than other times in history. The days of common moral values are gone and people are out to get everything they can. It’s truly a dog eat dog world and why not? Aren’t we all entitled to the American Dream?

Slogans are so common you could finish these off without me typing the words. Slogans such as “Live everyday like it was your last” or “Create your own happiness”. We are conditioned to believe that we are responsible for our happiness and our own good fortune and outcomes.  We are quick to take credit for our own accomplishments and good works but can just as quickly turn around and blame God when “bad things” happen.

Even in Solomon’s day he knew there was a balance between good works, enjoying life and being accountable for one’s own actions. We are called to live each day to the fullest but who are we living it for is the real question that differentiates good works for the kingdom of God rather than for selfish and prideful gain. Solomon’s wise words also come with a warning:

So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.[b]

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

10 Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain[c] from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity. Ecclesiastes 11:8-10

Yes it is important that we live each day to the fullest but it is only by the grace showed to us by Christ and the washing of our sin with his blood that any “good” work is seen by God as righteous.

 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  Titus 3:3-7

The irony in the celebrity’s quote above is that the very thing he is trying to avoid (wasting life) is exactly what he is doing by living for himself and his own glory. Without Christ, everything is meaningless. May our enjoyment and blessing of each new day be evident in the our good works, done not for self pleasure or advancement in to heaven but in gratitude to our Savior who gave his all for our sin!

Dear Jesus, than you for your blood that washes over my sin. Thank you for dying in my place so that when the Father looks at me he see’s your righteousness. Holy Spirit, help me to live each day joyfully devoted to good works that bring you glory. Amen!

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Leviticus 14, Psalm 17, Proverbs 28, 2 Thessalonians 2

 

I don’t know why exactly but since I was a child, I have always felt wrestling in my heart: a sort of homesickness though I have never been far from home. I have always had a stirring in my heart for as long as I can remember that wants to be home with the Lord. As an adult believer, this is not so surprising but when I was eight, people thought it was quite strange! I was keenly aware of the happenings in the world around me and would look for signs that pointed to Jesus’ return for his believers. Though I believed in Jesus at a young age, I can still remember feeling fearful of the unknown that may occur at any moment.

 

Today, things have not changed much but as the crazy events of the world seem to be increasing like the speed of an out of control freight train I can hear some of my same childhood fears in my own children’s words. The nightly news, school system, smart phones and social media is very different than when I was young and my children hear so much more than I do and so much quicker but their fears are the same as mine. So, we talk about God’s word and his promises and pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted. Reading this passage reminds me of a few more nuggets of truth to share with them straight from Paul’s mouth:

 

        Don’t worry- we haven’t missed the boat! Jesus came for our sins and we are currently waiting for his return to conquer sin and death and take us home. Don’t be confused by false prophecy or words from fools! (2 Thess 2:13)

 

        Things are going to get worse before they get better but that’s not a surprise! It doesn’t surprise God and it shouldn’t surprise us. (2 Thess 2:3-4)

 

        Nothing will happen without God’s say so. He has already planned Christ’s return and knows the day and the hour and nothing will happen until then! (2 Thess 2:5-7)

 

        We know Christ has already won the battle! If we are in Christ, the victory is already ours no matter how bad things get! (2 Thess 2:8)

 

        It seems like evil is winning and fools are prospering but it’s only an illusion! (2 Thess 2:10-12)

 

        Believers in Christ were chosen before the foundation of the world and called through the gospel and will glory with Christ! (2 Thess 2:13-14)

 

        Though the world seems to be falling apart, stand firm and hold to the teachings found in God’s word! (2 Thess 2:15)

 

The only way to combat fear is through the powerful Word of God. I am always encouraged when I read that the first believers struggled with the same fears and worries as I did. It’s why Paul was writing.  We will soon be going home but until then, let us continue to walk daily in the truth! 

 

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” Amen.

kateredding

 

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Exodus 38, Proverbs 14, John 17, Philippians 1

I have a friend, William who has been incarcerated for 12 years. He was wrongly accused of a terrible crime and sentenced to 20 years without parole. One would think he had murdered someone or burned down a house but it was nothing even close. This friend of mine has been in prison since 2004 and watched his daughter grow up through letters, pictures and occasional supervised visits. About a year before he found out about the charges (the incident had occurred years prior), William came to faith in the Lord and was excited to live a live centered and focused on Jesus. He became involved in our church, was a hard worker and would lend a hand to anyone in need.

Though my friend wasn’t imprisoned because of his faith, he has a thing or two in common with Paul who was unjustly accused. To be honest, our family worried quite a lot about William’s faith when this initially happened for two reasons. First, he was a new believer and second, he was being imprisoned in Mississippi so visitation and support from his newly found church family would be impossible.

But each and every time I read Paul’s letters to the churches I am reminded of William because William surprised us all! Instead of shrinking back, giving up and throwing in the faith towel, William pursued Christ with the little resources he was given in prison. His faith is put to the test each and every day from knowing he is unjustly serving a harsh sentence and missing his daughter to being bullied by others around him who don’t want to hear his “preachin”. And William would never admit it because he is too modest but he is changing the minds and hearts of those around him. There have been prison guards who act differently today then they did before. There are family members and friends who look at his example of faith and ask William how? William has opportunities each and everyday that most of us never will and instead of being angry and unfruitful, he listens to the Holy Spirit and speaks when he is prompted. There are still very tough days for him. But his faith and perseverance inspire m

12 I want you to know, brothers,[e] that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard[f] and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word[g] without fear. Philippians 1:12-14 ESV

There are times our family talks with William and he encourages our spirits and other times we encourage him. He has truly learned to be brought high and down low. He has a purpose and a calling he wouldn’t wish on anyone else but knows he is right where the Lord wants him.

Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. Philippians 1:19-22 ESV

 

I have not seen William in 12 years but we have written back and forth hundreds of times and have speak on the phone several times per month. We are continuing to pray for his early release and that the governor would pardon his sentence. We are praising the Lord together that he is God’s messenger in a very dark place that is in need of the Light.

Dear Lord, thank you that you who began a good work in each one of us (including Williams) will be faithful to complete it! Even when our circumstances appear differently than we hoped or dreamed, you are loving, faithful and merciful. Strengthen each one of us to do your will and avance your kingdom through your sweet gospel message! Amen.

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Exodus 12, Job 42, John 3, 2 Corinthians 12

Have you ever experienced an earth shattering, life changing, stop you right in your tracks kind of event that tuned your world upside down? Just a few years ago, my family’s lives were changed when were in a horrible car accident that landed me in shock trauma for a month and another 10 months recovering. It was one of those experiences that will definitely go down in our family’s history book as a game changer.

Just today I was talking with someone about something completely unrelated to our experience and realized that I  think of life as “before the accident” or “after the accident”. It has left a mark on our family mentally, spiritually and physically. Our trials, our pain, the lasting effects of trauma still rear their ugly head on a daily basis. Not too long ago, I was really caught off guard and convicted in my own self pity. You see, when there’s a life altering event, things are never the same again. I was fortunate to survive the accident and be put back together by some great surgeons and we, quite literally, experienced a miracle but there are lasting effects that friends and family don’t always see. There’s the day to day pain, medications for permanent nerve damage, intersections to avoid because it’s too hard to see and difficulties traveling in any type of moving vehicle, bus or plane . I am not the same friend and mom I was before and often tire quickly and have difficulty with even mundane tasks.

In reading Paul’s word, I am convicted and reminded that these weaknesses I now experience in my life are a reminder of how big my of God is. Not just that he saved me from death in the accident but so much more than that.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

We learned so much from that blink of an eye moment in time three and a half years ago. We learned how to rely on the Lord for strength. We learned how to accept help from others and lean on our brothers and sisters in Christ for prayer and support. The good and fruitful things we experienced from the hardship was far greater than bad. When I feel the pain in my neck or the numbness in my arm, I am reminded of my weaknesses. In my weakness, He is strong. And like Job, the Lord has blessed us beyond measure and far greater than we could ever imagine.

Sometimes we don’t understand the things we are going through and there are certain experiences we never will. But we can be sure that the Lord has a purpose in everything.

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“I know that you can do all things,
    and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
    but now my eye sees you” Job 42:2-5

 

Dear Lord, help me to boast only in my weakness and in your strength. Thank you for having a purpose in everything, even when we don’t understand. May we decrease so that you may increase! 

kateredding

 

 

 

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Exodus 10, Job 28, Luke 13, 1 Corinthians 14

22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Even without a sense of humor, I can enjoy a good knock knock joke from time to time and even know a few to share with others. It’s been a new thing in our house recently with my boys receiving a joke book. Interestingly, not long after receiving the book we read together from Luke about the person knocking on the door to heaven and wanting access. You never know what the Lord will use to get some great conversation going, although this topic was no laughing matter.

Their questions in relation to the door, the master of the house and the people knocking were ones I have asked myself many times. Would the friends and family in my close circle be able to enter through that narrow door? But Jesus flipped that question around from “would a few be saved? To “would YOU be saved?”. Though it is important to think of others around us that may need to hear the good news of the gospel, it’s important to resolve this matter in our own hearts first. Taking it a step further, we discussed who Jesus was really addressing: the churched. Much like today, there are many people who attend church and say they believe in Jesus. Are they merely acquaintances of Jesus or do they have a relationship with him?

So, it was my turn their questions around. Boys, the gate is narrow and the door will close once and for all. There won’t be second chances or bribes. No explaining or any amount of whining or crying will change the outcome. Will you be on the outside knocking or in the inside, safe and secure?

25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Good people, church goers, volunteers at the helping up mission and the people who find the cure for cancer are all great people may not be entering through that narrow gate but the imprisoned, evil and yes, even politicians may be entering may. It’s not about what we do or don’t do but who we place our faith and trust in.

This may seem backwards but boy are we thankful that our loving Father created a way to eternity with him. The boys and I ended our time thanking the Lord and praying for others around us that may not know the way just yet!

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