Author Archives: klueh

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

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

Judges 20; Acts 24; Jeremiah 35; Psalms 5-6

“You yourselves recently repented and did what was right in my sight by proclaiming liberty to one another, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name; but then you turned around and profaned my name when each you took back you male and female slaves whom you had set free according to their desire and brought them again into subjection to be slaves.” Jeremiah 34:15-16.

Like the people of Israel, I am known by God’s name and with that comes boundless grace and incredible responsibility. The words that come out of my mouth and the actions that follow have the opportunity to glorify or profane the name of God. These are strong words.

In contrast to the people of Israel, Paul’s life of obedience reflects the character of God: steadfast and true. He didn’t back down and compromise the truth when he spoke to Drusilla and Felix about “faith in Christ Jesus” Acts 24:24-25. Paul clung to the inconvenient truth and it cost him two more years of sitting in a Caesarean jail.

Lord, grant me Paul’s  lack of duplicity, his doggedness and faith. May I represent your name well no matter whether it is convenient or not. I don’t want to be known as a “good”  or religious person, but as one who lives in your grace and truth. Lord, bring me to repentance so that I turn from  petty self interest to worship You in your beauty and righteousness. Amen.

Kathy

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Judges 6; Acts 10; Jeremiah 19; Mark 5

Sometimes I forget. Like Gideon, I keep my faith hidden and thresh my wheat in the wine press. Like Gideon, I tend to keep expectations low,  dreams limited and focus on getting by. Immediate disappointment is deferred that way, but in His Grace, God’s vision for life is higher than mine. My stale faith and prayers do not limit what God can do. To the contrary, time and time again, He delights in interrupting the normal.

Those interruptions are a gift to the person with the smallest of hopes. Consider the synagogue leader whose daughter is healed, the woman who dares to reach out in the crowd to discretely touch Jesus’s clothing, and the demoniac delivered from the Legion. But for those unable to cope with the fact that they are not in control and life as they know it has been irrevocably altered, the interruptions of God are unwelcome, if not terrifying. I am thinking of the  Gideon’s Midianite and Amalekite neighbors and later the  Gerasene swineherds.

God doesn’t allow me to stay stuck in the past. His ways break through conventions and rules to call me to the unexpected. I prayer that when He calls me to take the next risk, I will be quick to listen and obey as in the case of Cornelius and Peter. His grace enables me to let go of prejudices and old habits that may have served in the past, but will not work today.

Lord, do not allow me to cling to my ability to get it right. Let me hold tightly to the grace to which you have called me by name. Thank you for being my anchor and my hope. Your relentless pursuit of my soul never fails. It’s by the glorious, beautiful name of Jesus that I offer this prayer. Your sufficiency continues to amaze in ways never expected. Amen.

“We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf has entered…” Hebrews 6:19-20.

Kathy

 

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Hebrews, Judges, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark

Joshua 11; Psalm 144; Jeremiah 5; Matthew 19

God instructs Joshua to decimate his enemies: hamstring the horses and strike down every breathing enemy–man, woman and child. It’s a blood bath…  the stuff of nightmares. These pages of the Bible leave me with far more questions about God than answers. Where is the God of grace and mercy that I cling to? But who is God if I disregard these pages? I am made in God’s image, not He in mine.

And what would Joshua think of the sanitized bubble that I live in? Perhaps he would be envious; war and violence are realities on television and far from me. Perhaps he would be appalled at my comfortable, complacent living.

David, also a man of war saw the horrors of war first hand and sings this: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues the people under me… I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you, the one who gives victory to kings, who rescues his servant David.” Psalm 144:1,2…9,10.

It’s no wonder that the Jews didn’t understand Jesus. They were looking for a warrior king whose hands were dripping with blood and taking revenge. Instead, comes a king who says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Matthew 19:14  They wanted a kingdom that they could see, a kingdom where they would be in power.

Who is this God we serve? He can wipe nations from the face of the earth and yet calls the youngest and weakest to draw near to him. Are we are in a spiritual war that is just as deadly and God spares us the horrors of seeing all that is going on around us? Paul says as much and repeats the message God spoke to Joshua and the people of Israel: “Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12.

Dear Lord, keep me from being complacent and naive in thinking that what I see is all that is going on. May I be ready and not deceived by the evil one. Heal me from distraction and chasing from false idols so that I may be your woman and follow hard after you. 

Kathy

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Ephesians, Jeremiah, Joshua, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Psalms, Uncategorized

Deuteronomy 30; Psalm 119:73-96; Isaiah 57; Matthew 5

After an intense Spring of work, celebrations, weddings, graduations, baby showers and the like, summer came to a slow halt. It started with a road trip to Maine. My sister and I loaded up my  elderly parent’s car with their gear and drove north to get them settled for the summer. They flew in a couple of days later, we had a family reunion and then I had a quiet couple of rainy days with them. And God started to slow me down and start speak to my heart.

It began with a book  about how phones are changing us. I was expecting it to tell me to toss it out, but it didn’t, but I did fall under the conviction that I am distracted because I want to be distracted.  I am not fully convinced that God can satisfy me. Isaiah nails me:

When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you! The wind will carry them off, a breath will take them away. But whoever takes refuge in me shall posses the land and inherit my holy mountain. Isaiah 57:13

God continues his relentless pursuit of me. The very first night of a weekly outreach to international students which I help lead I became ill. Ten days and a doctor’s visit later, I am still worn out from coughing, but God has been faithful. He’s been pulling me close to him. He’s given me no choice but to rest and pray.

Prayer isn’t my forte. It’s something that I know that I am supposed to do and it’s supposed to work, but I get much more of a sense of power when I DO. There’s a sense of self importance, a buzz from being busy.  But God’s been working without my physical presence (news flash: the world can go on without me) while allowing me to be part of his work through prayer. I am seeing the world through a different set of eyes and it’s beautiful.

The lessons are about emptying out of self, but not in a Buddhist sense. The Holy Spirit is continually clearing this house of idols and self so that it can be filled with something much better: his presence. It’s a process of replacing old, broken pieces with exquisite furniture.

Left to my own efforts, the process is hopeless. I hear the words of Jesus, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. and am intimidated, but not for long. It’s not my goodness nor my power that gets me into the presence of God, it’s the goodness and mercy of Christ. It’s his righteousness that he invites me to assume, that I may enjoy the presence and favor of God.

Lord, Let your steadfast love become my comfort according to the promise to your servant Psalm 119:76. I am yours, save me (v94). Thank you for your goodness, patience, mercy and joy. Amen.

Kathy

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