Author Archives: klueh

2 Kings 25; Hebrews 7; Amos 1 Psalm144

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 it’s precious metals and sacred items of worship are carted away. The priests and government officials are executed.

I think of Evan Laar’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

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 2 Kings, 66 Books, Hebrews, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Psalms, Uncategorized

2 Kings 10; 2 Timothy 1; Hosea 2; Psalm 119:97-120

Trusting in God can be easier when there are fewer choices. The people of Israel abandon their Creator God who led them through the desert for a god who offers false promises of fertility and abundance. Before long, they blend in with the culture; name alone distinguishes them from their neighbors. Baal is chosen over Jehovah.

In a zeal, Jehu takes up the sword and wipes out Baal worship only to later turn away from the Lord to pursue other gods. The cycle is repeated over and over again. Israel has this way of wandering from God when given half a chance. And what does God say of his people?

“She didn’t not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished upon her silver and gold that they used for Baal.”  Hosea 2:8

Longing for his people, God is a patient, forgiving lover:

“Therefore, I will now allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. From there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as when she came out of the land of Egypt. On that day, says the Lord you will call me, ‘My husband,’ and no longer will you call me, ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baal from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more….And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.” Hosea 2:14-17…19,20.

This cycle of belief and disbelief is exhausting. At least the Israelites embraced their false gods openly and honestly. Me, my heart sneaks away under cover and sometimes, I don’t even realize how or where my heart has wandered. That’s irrelevant to God, He pursues. His Holy Spirit claims ownership of my heart. He is there to strengthen and fan into flame even the slightest flicker of faith. Read Paul’s words to Timothy:

“For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through he laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”  2 Timothy 1:6-7.

God’s will is not accomplished through my ability to get things done and done right. It’s by His grace, power and purpose that the work is completed. This is great news to this  Type A personality who quickly fatigues. I can rest in God’s sufficiency for “I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.” 2 Timothy 1:12.

Lord, you are my hiding place and shield. My hope is in the truth of your word, not in my efforts or abilities. I long to love you with my whole heart,  yet know that I get distracted. Holy Spirit, have your way in and through me and let me rest in your all sufficiency. Thank you that your love never lets me go. Amen.

Kathy

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1 Kings 18; 1 Thessalonians 1; Ezekiel 48; Psalm 104

The people of Israel were getting desperate. Drought was ravishing their land and relief was not in sight, so they built an altar to Baal and sacrificed their limited resources. Elijah asked, “How long will you go limping about with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21

I hear God ask me the same question. Like most people, I have a longstanding family issue that won’t go away (warning: the holidays are coming). Everything that I have done in the past has been powerless to bring about change or seemed to make things worse. Venting to anyone who would listen to my tale of woe didn’t help, except to reinforce my sense of self righteousness and gather tiny stones of bitterness for my altar. Like the people of Israel, I have limped around this petty altar for too many years and wasted precious time and effort.

This time around, I hear God’s call to step out of my negative do loop and come to his altar of prayer. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s time to confess anger, a desire to hold onto hurt and an unwillingness to forgive. It’s time to stop complaining and walk into the freedom of trusting God to be enough, even if I don’t get the outcome I want.

“…because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5…6.

Lord, I long to live with the steady, unbreakable conviction that you are Lord in all situations. I want the kind of joy that comes only from trusting you. Holy Spirit, do your work in me. Holy Spirit, let your word take root and complete your will and work in my life. Jesus, you are the author and perfecter of my faith; it’s by your overflowing grace through that I ask this. Amen

Kathy

 

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1 Kings 3; Ephesians 1; Ezekiel 34; Psalms 83-84

Today’s readings bring an invitaion to rest in God. Paul speaks of God’s love for us through Christ Jesus and uses words like lavish, extravagant, freely, fullness… the list goes on. The line that shocks me most is this:

[He] has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.  Ephesians 1:3-4.

I know a little of who I am, and often it’s not pretty, but God knows everything and regards me as holy and without guilt before him. When he sees me, he sees the righteousness of Christ. Do I REALLY believe that? Do I enjoy and rest in this truth or do I squirm out of his embrace to check off things on my to-do list to justify my existence, or grab my cell phone to make sure that I haven’t missed something, someone, anyone but God?

Sometimes, I make life so complicated, so hard when all I need is to believe and rest in his presence. I am one of his, a sheep of his pasture:

I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so I will look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements. I will tend them in a good pasture and the mountain heights of Israel will be their good grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. Ezekiel 34:11-16

I was created for God’s good pleasure. My life was not my idea and the breath in my lungs and the very beat of my heart are by the design of the Holy One of Israel. He sustains and watches over me. He who has numbered and created the stars in the sky has numbered the hairs on my head. His perfect Son gave his life for mine.

So in this moment, I marvel at God’s goodness to me. I put away distractions, receive his goodness and love and enter into his Sabbath rest.

Amen.

Kathy

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2 Samuel 13; 2 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 20; Psalms 66-67

A friend of mine said this past weekend something that stuck: “One of Satan’s tricks is to take what is abnormal and make it appear normal.” That’s sin! That’s the stunt that the he played on Eve, and then Eve on Adam: enter in the death spiral of sin.

Amnon takes what isn’t his at the expense of another. To sin, or trespass means that I cross into a place that wasn’t intended for me. Isn’t that the deadly game I try to play with God, when I sin? I end up where I don’t belong; without God’s grace calling me home, the path leads farther and farther from Him.

I am confronted with God’s question to the house of Israel, “Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your ancestors and go astray after their detestable things?” Ezekiel 20:32Am I going to turn away from God and seek those things which will never satisfy? Will I turn away from God’s view of normal to chase the abnormal and dysfunctional? Will I seek material comfort and temporary illusions of security at the expense of the one who made me to know and enjoy Him?

It’s from the Word of God that I learn what is real, true, “normal.” The Psalmist understands this. He has experienced pain and suffering but has known restoration. He has felt trapped and been without vision but learned that God is faithful:  “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs; you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.” Psalm 66:10-12.

Paul and his fellow believers have been there as well; “but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way; through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beating, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…”2 Corinthians 6:4-5.  How did they respond? “by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God.” 2 Corinthians 6:6Only in God’s world, his Kingdom is such a response normal, much less possible, but that is the Kingdom where my citizenship lies.

Holy Spirit, help me to keep sight of what is “normal,” and to be obedient. When I go through difficult times, by your power, work your purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness, and genuine love deep into my being. Let me speak only that which is sincere and true. Provide the faith needed to keep my eyes on you. It’s by your grace and mercy that I ask these things.  Amen.

Kathy

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Filed under 1 John, 2 Corinthians, 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Ezekiel, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Psalms

1 Samuel 7; 1 Corinthians 8; Ezekiel 6; Psalm 44

Narrative is a powerful force. We each walk around with our individual stories being crafted in our heads. My husband has this clever way of telling me that my narrative is not in sync with his. When he puts it that way, we’re much less likely to get in an argument.

Psalm 44‘s author’s narrative is that God “has made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us.” Yet when he remembers the truth of who God is, accusations become pleas: “Rise up, come to our help. Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.” Psalm 44:26    The Psalms demonstrate that God understands the depth and complexities of emotion and thought and that He is not content to leave us in “stuck.” When I pray, when I call out to him, my story changes. I am changed by his narrative—not the other way around.

God tells Ezekiel and the people of Israel that desolation is heading their way. They will know the war, disease and suffering, but it doesn’t end there. In the end, “They shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 6:14.  Once again, God and his story rise above the course of human history and people change.

When I read and pray God’s Word, my narrative submits to God’s. I need to be mindful of the Gospel every day (and sometimes multiple times a day) to get a grasp of reality. A joy takes over when I pray with Jesus and the saints, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as is is in heaven.” Whether I am in a place of suffering or joy, my story becomes grounded in who God is:

“Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth- as in fact there are many gods and many lords–yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”  1 Corinthians 8:5-6.

Lord, I get absorbed in my thoughts and emotions. Sometimes I only see what’s going on around me.  Too easily,  I forget that you are Lord. By your Holy Spirit, may your Word take root in my heart and thrive. May your truth and grace rule. Hold me close to you so that when others see me, they can see your grace at work in my life. Amen.

Klueh

 

 

 

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1 Samuel 12; Romans 10; Jeremiah 49; Psalms 26-27

I have read Romans so many times that I have become somewhat numb to the impact it had on Jews and Gentiles alike.  Romans 4:11 shocked me for the first time; “He (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision as a seal of righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them.”

Why did God choose circumcision of all things to represent a condition of the heart? It’s a graphic symbol about a part of the body we don’t discuss in mixed company. Isn’t it just like God to keep me from becoming too spiritual when it comes to faith? Abraham’s faith in God, calls him to place his son on the altar as well as undergoing circumcision. And what did Sarah think about all of this?

Abraham challenges me; I take faith far too lightly. God’s grace is serous business; it holds the knife over the most tender places…places I do my best not to expose.

But the good news of this grace finds me every time I cry out to God, every time I consider His word:

“But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart…” Romans 10:8  and “so faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” Romans 8:15.

I have to speak the good news of Jesus Christ to my heart multiple times a day to keep myself off the hamster wheel of works and self righteousness. It’s his grace that saves me, not what I do. What I do is a response to his grace. When it’s not, He is waiting to restore what I broke. He loves me that much, not because I merit it, but because, quite simply, that is who He is. He sees the most vulnerable parts of me— the places hidden from others and even myself, and He never turns away.

Holy Spirit, may your grace and peace settle deep into my soul so that I live in the freedom and joy of your grace. Jesus, thank you for taking my rags and giving me your righteousness to wear. I thank you for the wonder of who you are and the healing and restoration you bring to me. Your love, your sacrifice is my joy.

Kathy

 

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Jeremiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Psalms, Romans