Author Archives: Rebecca

Amos 7-9; Matthew 15

Amos  7

Hear this, you who trample on the needy
and bring the poor of the land to an end,
saying, “When will the new moon be over,
that we may sell grain?
And the Sabbath,
that we may offer wheat for sale,
that we may make the ephah small and the shekel[e] great
and deal deceitfully with false balances,
that we may buy the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals
and sell the chaff of the wheat?” ESV

The Lord desires (requires) integrity.

Matthew 15:

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” ESV

The Lord cares (always) about the heart.

d] 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” ESV

The tendency to focus on the external as a guideline for the heart is always present; it is the heart that should inform the external.

27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.[e]  ESV

Bold perseverance makes a way.

33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. ESV

Jesus provides more than enough. He calls the disciples to obedient faith and then multiplies their provision for all.

11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord,
but they shall not find it. ESV

The straining experience of  physical “famine” harasses the flesh. It is a looming specter. Lord reminds me that a more desperate famine is one “of hearing the words of the Lord.”  I do not want to wander and run- seeking the Word of the Lord- unable to find it. The famine of the soul is the most devastating of all.

Lord, keep my heart close to You. Revive me from the inside out.  You call me beyond the finite realm to Your miraculous possibilities. Show me Your ways and have mercy on me. Amen

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2 Kings 2:4-6; Matthew 5

–God—who is  More Than Enough—

2 Kings 2: 4 slices close … leaving this vulnerable heart

exposed;

the desperation and the terror of the woman pulses through the first paragraph:

Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” ESV emphasis mine

Yet-  in her desperation- faith rises- she cried to Elisha.  He responds:

 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” ESV

What do you have in the house?….nothing but a jar of oil.

And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” ESV

She went into a “secret” place; a private place (shut the door behind yourself)- and she poured from her jar- into all the jars they gathered in obedience.

And God provided and delivered.

The Lord can take the small capacity of my oil and multiply it again and again; above and beyond.  I ponder what this oil is in my life. Different thoughts surface for me.

What surfaces for you?

Another thought swirls for me:

What do I have in the (this) house?

There is a circumstance in my life that sometimes leads me to what feels like the very edge of desperation. The pressure wipes memories from my mind and tightens vessels in my body. It presses on my chest with a weight that can flatten me to the bed, to the chair, to the floor; flatten the life out of me.

This chapter:

The servant’s husband was dead; a man who served the Lord. The creditor is coming to take her two children as slaves; the family that remains in the wake of her husband’s death. My heart roils with her grief and despair; this vulnerable woman.

(Again)

So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” ESV emphasis mine

Sometimes I despise the small things… the “vessel of oil” that is mine in my life. The Lord reminds me that He is fully able to take that small thing and multiply it into a full, bounty of provision.

Lord, help me consecrate my oil unto You. Let me live in obedience to You. May I see and experience the bounty of Your provision. Increase my faith to ask of You and to take any needed actions/steps. You do all things well. Amen.

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Ecclesiastes 10,11,12; 2 Timothy 4

19 Bread is made for laughter,
and wine gladdens life,
and money answers everything.  Ecc 10 ESV

Recently, I met a friend I have treasured for over twenty years for coffee. And we sat together- and crammed as much life possible -into two and a half hours of sharing. The theme of many of our talks over a long stretch of years has related to money, career, children, provision… “and money answers everything.” My sweet friend has struggled to find her place as a godly, intentional wife and mother alongside the need for financial provision and her passion to utilize God given giftings and abilities. This Word rises for me. Would she be more at peace if the need to work was less about money and more about purpose and calling? Only the Lord knows. Financial need is a justifier of many things. I know this full well. Financial “success” would certainly remove that part of the equation. Money can smooth the way of life, ease the crease of care, lift the burden of the heart. Grant (a sometimes false and sometimes true) sense of peace and security. I thought of my friend and our talks. Struggles shared. Desires longed for. Peace needed. Real fear and uncertainty. I thought of long talks down a corridor of years. “Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything.” And Bread is also made for nutrients, and wine can be medicinal, and money doesn’t answer everything. It can’t save the soul. I pray for my friend, and I pray for me: that God would grant wisdom, direction, and provision. Grateful that He knows the core of the soul. He sees through all.

20 Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king,
nor in your bedroom curse the rich,
for a bird of the air will carry your voice,
or some winged creature tell the matter Ecc 10 ESV

I have been living a dream come true. A dream that is comprised of coffee, Todd, and his voice reading a short devotion in the morning. It has only been a few days, and I only pray the sweetness continues- But, in one of these devotions there was a focus on sinful strongholds. Patterns of the flesh; attitudes of the mind that are quick to rise up in moments of weakness and times of pressure. And then an assurance that the Holy Spirit is available to offer true and full victory in overcoming such strongholds in the life of a believer. I had opportunity to realize that I had entertained false skeptical thoughts recently. And I recognized that this is one of my strongholds and tendencies: Suspicion and skepticism. Thoughts that are not the clear, pure flowing stream they should be. I need to be in the Spirit and in truth even to the uttermost of all of my thoughts. And the victory is in Jesus. Nothing is hidden. Lord, let everything hidden be pure and true.

Lord, help me walk with You and rest in You. Let Your Word be life and truth in me. Be with my friend and show Yourself strong on her behalf. You are the lifter of her head. You are the lifter of mine.

Vanity[b] of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. Ecc 12 ESV.

Let all that is not vanity remain, O God. Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

 

 

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Proverbs 14,15; Romans 14

A garland of grace, Romans 14 falls around me. 

This chapter teaches me so much about the expression of my life of faith. It is mine before the Lord. It preaches freedom to me. It preaches surrender. It preaches honor of God’s precious ones who live out different preferences and convictions than mine.

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master[a] that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. ESV

I have to make many choices and decisions. Sometimes it feels like I am always making such decisions. And at times, my mind wavers… in a glimmer, I see it fluctuating like a desert mirage.  My thoughts just an illusion? And yet, Romans 14 : 4 “It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” The Lord is the substance that breathes life into my mind. The Lord brings the image into true focus. He is the oasis in my desert.

 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. ESV

I sat by her side, tucked in with blankets and pillows- but really… tucked in with love. And, I listened to her words. “Be able to defend your choices and decisions.” – she said. And then… “And sometimes the reason is ‘I don’t know fully why’ and that is okay, too.” And my ear quickened. So many choices and decisions, and I knew, I should take the time to draft my defense for each one. It would bring clarity, peace, confidence, and direction. It wasn’t about defense in an argumentative stance. It was about knowing why I chose what I chose so I had an answer for those who oppose…

and maybe so I have an answer for my own accusing heart.

 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. ESV

My whole life it to be lived to God. I have little sunflowers growing on my deck- and their vibrant faces are turned straight to the sun. So, should I be- like those sunflowers, open-faced and only -eyed toward Him. And this life of glad surrender and faith- filled beauty is approved by Him. Indeed, commended.

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. ESV

17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. ESV

I am to embrace God’s people in the pursuit of peace– allowing for differences, preferences, and convictions; free in my own before the Lord.

Lord, help me live unto You. Help me remember that each faith-filled decision honors You when I live into it fully by faith. Establish a sound mind in me. Help me remember to reflect and spend time to bring clarity for why I do the things I do. Thank you for the peace and grace to live free in You. Amen.

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2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21; Romans 4

Heart-Understanding of God; Justice; Mercy; Integrity

 13 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”

David sinned against the Lord- and thereby brought the Lord’s displeasure upon himself and the nation of Israel-

and when faced with three choices to be carried out against Israel as consequence- he chose the Lord, so secure in His Nature, Mercy, Character, and Love was he.

So the Lord sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead. 15 And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the Lord saw it and relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah[b] the Jebusite.

“The Lord saw it and relented…” David was right to trust His Mercy. To Trust His Nature and Character.

17 David said to God, “Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd,[c] have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Lord my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people.”

David’s integrity shines forth. He beseeches the Lord for mercy for Israel. He takes full responsibility. He desires to spare those who are guilty “by default”- guilty because of a choice he sinfully made. He cries out before the Lord for His people.

Then the angel of the Lord ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.19 So David went up in obedience to the word that Gad had spoken in the name of the Lord.

David goes to Araunah’s threshing floor in obedience to God. He goes to stay the Sword of the Lord. Araunah offers him everything, and David refuses. He insists on paying full price.

24 But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

Aranuah shows respect and generosity to his King. David responds with integrity, respect, and honor. His obedience to the Lord is from his whole heart, and with everything that he is. An offering bears a cost. The cost is holy.

I have often felt that a gift that cost me nothing- either in money, time, or thought- is no true gift at all.

Lord, I pray you grant me truth in the inner man so that I can walk with integrity. Help me recognize my responsibility and own it fully. Sin is deceitful and misleading. Your light leads the way securely.  Help me please You with my offerings and have a tender heart to You and those You entrust to my care. Amen

 

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2 Samuel 3-5; 1 Chronicles 12; Psalm 122; Acts 22

1 Chronicles 12 sings of the Mighty Men who came alongside David and helped him battle.

Note: all emphasis mine in the Scripture quotes

 They were bowmen and could shoot arrows and sling stones with either the right or the left hand; they were Benjaminites, Saul’s kinsmen. Verse 2 ESV

From the Gadites there went over to David at the stronghold in the wilderness mighty and experienced warriors, expert with shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions and who were swift as gazelles upon the mountains: ESV

David’s army is gathered.

These Gadites were officers of the army; the least was a match for a hundred men and the greatest for a thousand. 15 These are the men who crossed the Jordan in the first month, when it was overflowing all its banks, and put to flight all those in the valleys, to the east and to the west.

16 And some of the men of Benjamin and Judah came to the stronghold to David. 17 David went out to meet them and said to them, “If you have come to me in friendship to help me, my heart will be joined to you; but if to betray me to my adversaries, although there is no wrong in my hands, then may the God of our fathers see and rebuke you.” 18 Then the Spirit clothed Amasai, chief of the thirty, and he said,

“We are yours, O David,
    and with you, O son of Jesse!
Peace, peace to you,
    and peace to your helpers!
    For your God helps you.”

Then David received them and made them officers of his troops. ESV

22 For from day to day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army, like an army of God. ESV

In verses  23- 37, these men are described as:  mighty men of valor for war; mighty men of valor, famous men in their fathers’  houses; men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; equipped for battle with all the weapons of war, to help David[c] with singleness of purpose; seasoned troops ready for battle.

Strength, vigor, physical prowess, mighty men,

___and____

Heart devotion, loyalty, anointing, Spirit moving

38 All these, men of war, arrayed in battle order, came to Hebron with a whole heart to make David king over all Israel. Likewise, all the rest of Israel were of a single mind to make David king. 39 And they were there with David for three days, eating and drinking, for their brothers had made preparation for them. 40 And also their relatives, from as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, came bringing food on donkeys and on camels and on mules and on oxen, abundant provisions of flour, cakes of figs, clusters of raisins, and wine and oil, oxen and sheep, for there was joy in Israel. 1 Chronicles 12 ESV

When I initially read this chapter, this last section sung out to me first. Verses 38-40… for there was joy in Israel. Yes. How we need respite; times of fellowship and feasting. Times of strength and singing. In the midst of the great battles of life. In the midst of David’s battle for his life and for the kingdom. I can feel the heart-swell of joy. I can feel the power pulse through the chapter. What a congregation of valiant men… of warriors!

There is joy in single-mindedness, commonality, and fellowship! There is joy in food laid out for a feast in celebration and succor.

I have young men growing up in my home. The references to strength, power, victory, and valor ring especially true and poignant for me. And I am the wife of a treasured man. Men need each other to face the battles of life. We all need each other. I hope that my home can continue to grow into a place where warriors can rest as they prepare to face the battles of their day. And I pray that my men find a commonality and a joy in the Lord who is their strength and the victory found in Him.

Lord, let the joy of feasting in you sing through my home. As we celebrate victories, and as we face battles, let our family be a place of respite and succor. Anoint us to be of one mind, single in action and purpose. I turn my face to You. I hide myself in You. You are worthy- and in every battle- and in each victory- MAY YOU BE PRAISED!

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Judges 19-21; Acts 2

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” Acts 2 ESV

Without faith, and illuminated understanding- without the Spirit- it is easy to be bewildered, perplexed, and confused.

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2 ESV

The tender heart sliced cleanly by conviction… the answer and call: Repent and be baptized.

The promise: for you, for your children…

This promise speaks to my heart: for my children.

In my Judges’ reading, I see many examples of a crooked generation. I see a people cut to the heart. I see a justice provided through a people. In Acts, justice and salvation comes to me through a person. A better way… a more excellent way.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[d] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2 ESV

To live and see life through eyes of faith, is to see the world around me through a different lens. What lens am I looking through? Am I living in the joy of the Lord and the freedom of His life? How can my heart be glad and generous?

Dear Lord, thank You for Your Word. Open my eyes to see Your truth. Draw me close to You. The wind and fire of Your Spirit make all things new. Help me live my life for You. Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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