Category Archives: New Testament

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 34; John 13; Proverbs 10; Ephesians 3

I looked to the past for the key. But because of the estrangement and the years, I had no answer. How many generations did it go back? One. Two. Three? More?

“Yahweh! The Lord!
    The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
    and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
    I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
    I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
    even children in the third and fourth generations.” Exodus 34:6b-7, NLT

I wanted something different for my children. I told them of a better way. I told them of the woes to come if they continued on a path. They saw my struggle. How could I impress upon them the power of love when my own heart was guarded? The question haunted me.

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35, NLT

God breaks strongholds. He takes impossible situations and he brings good out of them. I sat at my sister’s hospital bedside days ago. I spoke encouragement to her, told her she is a fighter. In a moment of clarity, she said to me, “God is always fighting for us, and he lets us think we’re the warriors!”

Her words are treasure. I laughed and cried with joy at her insight. Oh, God, you are mighty. Dear God, you are good.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21, NLT.

The power of love, at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus, through all generations. Forever and ever. Amen.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 33; John 12; Proverbs 9; Ephesians 2

I may be a bit morbid, but I think a lot about the living and the dead. On one level I am asking the ageless questions about who lives and who dies and why. These questions pave the path of pain that leaves a jagged swatch of loss I cannot conceal. If you know me well, you have sat with me during those times of grief. On a deeper level I am wrestling with existential crisis questions such as the meaning and purpose in this life. These thoughts are universal.

In John 12:1 we read, “Then, six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.” How fitting that Jesus would be in the house of the man who had tasted death and returned to life after three days!” Perhaps Jesus thought of His own imminent physical death by crucifixion. Can you imagine how that memory of seeing Lazarus walk from the cave into the light and now sitting next to him impacted Christ? Was this inspiration for Jesus to prophecy His own death?  Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain,” (John 12:23). The souls saved through the miracle of raising Lazarus would pale in numbers to the generations of souls saved through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So what did Lazarus do to deserve life after death (the first time)? Can we add to a lifespan, or is the numbering of our days unlikely to change? My curiosity was piqued after reading this interesting passage in Proverbs 9:10-11. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding, For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you,” (my emphasis.) Can it be that life is extended through the wisdom and word of God?

Of course, my next thought is an automatic negative one that says, “Yea, but what if I have molded the golden calf?”

Sometimes the New Testament Jesus is preached as if Christ brought love to a world which had only known the wrath of the God of the Old Testament. I’ve come to believe that this line of thinking may be an example of how our ways are not like His. For in Exodus 33:18, 19 when Moses had asked for a demonstration of God’s favor (remember this is after the Israelites’ faithless worship of their man-made golden calf). God said, “I shall make all My goodness pass before you, and I shall call out with the Name Hashem (Mercy) before you; I shall show favor when I choose to show favor, and I shall show mercy when I choose to show mercy.” God was about to show Moses the 13 Attributes of Mercy (see Exodus 34,) that Moses was to teach His people. God wanted them and us to invoke these attributes of mercy in prayers.

Mercy is for the living. Ephesians 2:1,4, and10 declares, “And you He made alive…God who is rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

My prayer: God, give me revelation and understanding. Without Your mercy, I have nothing. And like Moses, I say that without Your Presence, I will not move. Even though I have done nothing to deserve Your favor, I seek Your goodness through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, my Savior. Praise You for however many days to come, continually living in Your presence.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Ex. 32; John 11; Prov. 8; Eph. 1

I am the Savior and there are no other besides me…

And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” Exodus 32:4

At the risk of revealing my age, does anyone remember the Easter tradition of watching The Ten Commandments when they were younger? I’ve never forgotten the scene when Moses, after spending 40 days and nights at the top of Mount Sinai with God, came down with two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. Excited about the prospect of bringing ‘the law’ to the very people God released from Egyptian bondage, Moses found that his people had created and began to worship a calf forged out of gold. The people traded their faith in the God, who had saved them and their descendants from a lifetime of slavery, for an idol by donating their jewelry. To add insult to injury, it was Moses’ own brother, Aaron, who had used his God-given gifts to forge this idol, which disappointed Moses, and God, tremendously. Imagine… not having the faith to believe, especially after being freed from bondage… it’s a good thing people aren’t like that today!! Or are they???

Look carefully at the chronology of the story… people receive tremendous blessings… people are asked to be obedient, and wait upon God for knowledge based on His timing… people get restless and turn to idols as a means of ‘fixing’ their problems and answer their questions. Put this way, I’m not sure if this describes what happened at the foot of Mount Sinai, or what’s happening in the world in 2017… that we quickly forget the provider of all things… the God that supplies all of our needs!

I wonder if our loyalty is much different from the Israelites who Moses led out of bondage. We seem to be just as easily distracted by man-made comforts and quick-fixes when we’re bored. And we seem to be quick to assume credit or misdirect credit for the blessings that God alone has provided.

I remember watching the scene described in The Ten Commandments and thinking, “I can’t believe the Israelite’s would have done what they did after all God had done for them! If only they had applied a more focused and disciplined attitude to their faith, perhaps they could have persevered.” But then, I remembered what Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:1-5…

1“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2“For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

The Israelites are so easy to criticize, but, in the same way, so easy to related to! It was God alone who had rescued them from the Egyptians; not some gold calf or human leader. Even before God sent Jesus, as Savior from our sins, it was God who assumed the role as Savior in a multitude of ways. If we could get to a point of focusing every doubt we have towards the Father and the Son, imagine the depth of faith we could have?

Is our belief in God that of a Savior? Is He our first go-to place when we struggle, or is He merely an afterthought? Do we use Him to set the direction of our day and our life, affecting every thought and action? If we’re honest, we’ve all got some work to do… He, and He alone deserves all our focus, love, and devotion so we just don’t know Him, but we really KNOW Him!!

Lord, I want to focus my loyalty on You, and You alone… please reveal where I may I may be falling short of who I should be seeking as You deserve all credit for who and what I am. Amen!

Greg (gstefanelli)

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Exodus 30; John 9; Proverbs 6; Galatians 5

The disciples consider whose fault it is that a man was born blind. Jesus ends the debate by revealing the purpose of the man’s blindness— to reveal God’s glory, His character.  Jesus spits on the ground, makes a bit of mud and applies it to the eyes of a blind man and tells him to go and wash it off. He does as instructed and for the first time, sees.

No one can quite believe what has just happened. Three times, he is asked to tell his story. It appears that his audience would like him to change his narrative and when he refuses, they turn on him. The formerly blind man will have none of it:

“Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this nam were not from God, he could do nothing.” John 9:30-34.

Here is my take away: I have had parts of my life that have been crippling in a variety of ways. There are times when repentance is required, but other times, pointing my finger at myself or others is in vain. Sometimes, bad things just happen, but Jesus is the master of using the ordinary stuff of life, the things that aren’t glorious or pretty to work his wonders.

The formerly blind man gets it right. He isn’t willing to change his story to accommodate others’s desired narrative; he gives credit where credit is due.  He believes.

Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” John 9:39.

Lord Jesus, thank you for bringing healing into my life. Help me to be true in the telling of how you have healed me. May the glory of your character at work in humble lives, shine through. Amen.

Kathy

 

 

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Exodus 29; John 8; Proverbs 5; Galatians 4

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

John 8:1-11 (NLT)

The compassion and forgiveness that Jesus displays here always surprises me, but it shouldn’t.  That is his character: one of unconditional love and forgiveness.  I wonder how often I am quick to assume that Jesus would shun me or punish me for the way I behave when in reality his reaction would be one of grace and forgiveness.  Jesus, help me to fully dwell in and understand your character.  Forgive me for being quick to superimpose my misconceptions about you in my life.

In the end you will groan in anguish
    when disease consumes your body.
12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
    If only I had not ignored all the warnings!
13 Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers?
    Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors?
14 I have come to the brink of utter ruin,
    and now I must face public disgrace.”

Proverbs 5:11-14 (NLT)

There are often mornings I wake up for work, too tired to do anything but drag myself out of bed 15 minutes before I have to go and get myself ready.  On those days, I get to work on time, but I miss out on the valuable time I can have with the Lord if I get out of bed even 30 minutes early.  God wants to meet with me on those first quiet and precious hours of my morning and if I miss them, I am less aware of God’s presence throughout my day.  Waking up early takes discipline, but, oh, it is so worth it in the long run.  Lord, teach me discipline so that I might grow in you and feel your presence in a deeper way in my daily life.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Galations 4:4-7 (NLT)

I. LOVE. THIS. PASSAGE.  There is so much freedom and joy in it!  God sent his son to face the pain and the anguish of death and that bears much deep sorrow, but there is incredible hope in it also!  God did this for a reason; he did so to adopt me as his own child.  I am part of God’s family and because of that I never again have to worry about being captured and controlled by sin.  I am an heir to the throne of THE king and that is something to sing and dance about (cue dance party music)!  Lord, thank you so much that you have not only saved me from sin but you have adopted me as your own child.  Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your treasured family.  Teach me to truly know and believe that I am yours everyday forever, especially in the deepest depths of my darkest day.

 

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Exodus 27; John 6; Proverbs 3; Galatians 2

He already knew what He was going to do.

Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. John 6:5-6, NLT

Philip looks around at what they have–a boy’s lunch of loaves and fish, and a crowd of thousands.

I glance at my calendar, empty grids awaiting my pencil to fill in the tasks–a lot of unknown, and it all feels too big. I know these days will move fast and powerful, and in my own strength, my limited sight and wisdom, I look around at what I have and at what needs to be done. I am thankful and clinging to peace: He already knows what He is going to do.

The people wanted proof and proof, even after their bellies were filled. Miracles are marvelous morsels, but they don’t sustain–only Jesus can.

26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” John 6:26-31, NLT

I don’t need the miracles in order to follow Jesus. I know that by following Him, the miracles will come.

Spending time at His feet today, I find peace and rest. He calls me His child, and I am quieted. When urgency and unknown press against me, I fix my gaze upon Him. I listen and there is deep joy. These were the first words I read this morning, in Proverbs 3, Trusting the Lord.

My child, never forget the things I have taught you.
    Store my commands in your heart.
If you do this, you will live many years,
    and your life will be satisfying.
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
    Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
    Write them deep within your heart.
Then you will find favor with both God and people,
    and you will earn a good reputation.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
    Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Then you will have healing for your body
    and strength for your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth
    and with the best part of everything you produce.
10 Then he will fill your barns with grain,
    and your vats will overflow with good wine.

11 My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
12 For the Lord corrects those he loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

13 Joyful is the person who finds wisdom,
    the one who gains understanding.
14 For wisdom is more profitable than silver,
    and her wages are better than gold.
15 Wisdom is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 She offers you long life in her right hand,
    and riches and honor in her left.
17 She will guide you down delightful paths;
    all her ways are satisfying.
18 Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
    happy are those who hold her tightly.

19 By wisdom the Lord founded the earth;
    by understanding he created the heavens.
20 By his knowledge the deep fountains of the earth burst forth,
    and the dew settles beneath the night sky.

21 My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment.
    Hang on to them,
22 for they will refresh your soul.
    They are like jewels on a necklace.
23 They keep you safe on your way,
    and your feet will not stumble.
24 You can go to bed without fear;
    you will lie down and sleep soundly.
25 You need not be afraid of sudden disaster
    or the destruction that comes upon the wicked,
26 for the Lord is your security.
    He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. Proverbs 3:1-26, NLT

Thank you, Jesus.

Courtney (66books365)

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