Category Archives: New Testament

1 Chronicles 17; James 4; Jonah 1; Luke 6

Spending time with God, talking to Him, listening, and engaging with His word is something I treasure and enjoy every day.  The fact that God spends time with me gives me incredible encouragement to keep spending time with Him.

For you, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him; therefore your servant has found it possible to pray before you.                          1 Chronicles 17:25   NRSV

When I learned very early that God was not a vending machine where I inserted my time and effort and earned the right for a product to come sliding down into my hands, I knew that my life would never be the same. Love had entered the picture, and I accepted God’s love for first time, not in faith as in salvation, but in trust and hope that He was my Father.

 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. – James 4:3   NRSV

Sometimes I am in control and feel safe in His arms and other times I am caught up in my own world and forget to leave my matters in the palm of His hand.  Sometimes I simply forget that He is watching me, caring over me and loving me.  When I do mess up, He never leaves me.  There are times I have felt His arms around me even though I have suffered some extreme loss.

But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. – Jonah 1:17   NRSV

People wonder why my hands are outstretched when I pray.  It is a sign of surrender, for sure, but for me it is more about inviting God into my life to do what He does best – change me, make me whole, restore my life because I am Yours.

 After looking around at all of them, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. – Luke 6:10   NRSV

Father, You see my hand stretched out to You. Sometimes I can say words, sometimes I can only breathe deep breaths and sometimes when You love me so much, I can only cry.  I can pray because You have blessed me with promises and every one of them You have kept.  I can pray because You have shown me that you are more than God, You have come to me as my Father.  I can pray because in my weakest moments in life, Your arms are around me.  I can pray because I love being with You. I love You and thank You that You are always You – each and every day. Amen.

evanlaar

 

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, James, Jonah, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

1 Chronicles 16; James 3; Obadiah 1; Luke 5

On that day David gave to Asaph and his fellow Levites this song of thanksgiving to the Lord:

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord. Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given, you children of his servant Israel, you descendants of Jacob, chosen ones.” 1 Chronicles 16:7-14

We each took turns writing what we are thankful for on a pumpkin. On the days I’m not feeling thankful, it reminds me of God’s faithfulness to my family. How does thankfulness become a way of life?  As David says, I need to continually seek the Lord. I look back at the notes I took on Sunday… “Thankful hearts run to God and not away. Thankfulness begins in my thinking. Do I trust the heart of the Father? Thankfulness is a sacrifice when storms come, when disappointment comes. Thankfulness isn’t a response to my circumstances, my circumstances respond to my thankfulness.” I can learn a lot from David. He wasn’t just thankful when he felt like it. His spoken and penned words had the power to change his perspective.

Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.” 1 Chronicles 16:24&25 NLT

I have so many things to be grateful for, but oh how quickly I can become discontent. When I focus on what I don’t have, instead of what I do. And start comparing myself to others. But, when I worship and write down the numerous ways he has provided, my heart overflows with gratitude. I pray this would spill over into every area of my life. His praise coming out of my mouth more than anything else.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.” James 3:7-10NLT

Lord, I need you!

Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor-sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” Luke 5:31 NLT

Dear Father, I praise you for who you are. I want to cultivate a grateful heart. You are good! Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Chronicles 15, Amos 9, Luke 4, James 2

The kids and I have been reading a book together called “Kisses From Katie”. It’s a story about Katie Davis who, at age 19 left her home in TN and became a missionary in Africa and within eight months began adopting 13 children and caring for hundreds more. It’s so important to read inspiring stories and not just for the sake of our kiddos but also for us! I think I am learning more than my kids. What is inspiring most of all is not the specific good works that Katie has done (which, by the way are truly amazing) but it’s her heart that shines and inspires me to think about my own life.

Katie traveled to Africa after high school planning to stay only one year. But very shortly into her stay the Lord began to change the passions and desires. She realized, it wasn’t enough to just pray for these people she needed to DO something about their needs.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[b] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-17

After reading a portion of the book the other evening, my seven year old daughter and I ended up having a very long conversation about works and faith. I could see the wheels turning in her brain and I remember asking the same questions as a child. “Am I doing enough good to go to heaven? What happens if I sin? Am I good enough?” “My friends say they are Christians but they don’t act like it.” “How do I know my friend is a real Christian?”

I have struggled with many of these same questions for nearly 3 decades and this passage in James has been a love hate relationship for me. Though I know I am justified by Jesus’ finished work on the cross, I still question am I doing enough. Is my faith really genuine? I am an all or nothing person so when I miss an opportunity to serve or worse, when I sin, I feel doomed. It was in explaining to my daughter the beauty of God’s grace, Jesus’ sacrifice and the joy of serving Christ that I was able to realize the truth for myself.

Katie’s story left me asking questions of myself and my family. Am I (are we) intentional with my time, money, resources, and love? When I (we) hear of or see a need around me do I respond quickly with love, compassion and resources or do I (we) offer a quick prayer and move on? Not all of us will be called to be full time missionaries to Africa or to adopt thirteen children but ALL Christians are called to love everyone like Christ loves. That can be sticky and hard and ugly and beautiful and joyous! Good works are the fruits of our genuine faith in a God that gave the ultimate sacrifice. They come from a heart that desires what God desires not our own selfish desires that store up treasures on earth. Genuine faith says, “yes” to God when he asks us for our time, our resources, our love.

Like Katie, I am flabbergasted by the statistics. There are more than 2 billion people claiming to be Christians. If only 8% of them provided food for 1 child, there would be no more starving children IN THE WORLD. Modern day Christianity has become watered down and easy, particularity in the US. We offer our prayers and canned goods but only if we have time to stop by the local grocery store and grab a few items. Many people believe in Jesus but so do the demons. This Thanksgiving and Christmas our family is taking more time to first of all, appreciate this season and worship our Lord and Savior but also be more intentional. The shoeboxes we packed for Operation Christmas child looked different than before. The amount of money we will spend on gift giving will be different as well as the source they gifts are coming from. Not all of us will become missionaries in a foreign country but God’s people are everywhere and the needs are great. We will start by opening our eyes and hears and meeting the needs of the people God places in front of us today.

Dear Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice on the cross, the ultimate sacrifice that granted me eternal life. Thank you for the privilege to participate in doing kingdom work, not out of obligation but love. Help us to serve your people with the royal law of love and place their needs above our own. Amen.

kateredding

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I Chronicles 5, 6; Hebrews 10; Amos 4; Psalm 148-150

Sometimes I am conflicted about the will of God in my life. “Should I move or should I stay” is a line in a Third Day song that mimics my own questions. When nothing seems to be working out as I would like or had expected, I doubt my heart and look for sin or some other barrier deafening me to God’s will. I feel like the rejected firstborn or one of a whole lineage of people that God judged as unfaithful. When I search my heart I see the after effects of trauma, unresolved grief, periods of isolation from God’s community of believers, and the constant dripping of remorse. Still, I hold tenaciously to Jesus Christ, the One who knows me intimately – my Creator. Amos 4:13 says,

“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind, who declares to man what his heart is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth…the Lord God of hosts is His name.”He is the One who declares what my heart is – no matter that I am unaware of this heart’s condition.

Even when convicted of sin, my Lord Jesus does not leave me. He could have. He could have saved only Israel through the Levitical practice of offering sacrifices and left me in the dust. I Chronicles 6:49 describes the importance of the high priest’s function:

“But Aaron and his sons offered sacrifices on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense for all the work of the Most Holy Place, and to make atonement for Israel…” However, Jesus Christ, said to God,

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices of sin You had no pleasure. Then I [Christ] said, ‘Behold, I have come…to do Your will, O God,’”(Hebrews 10:5-7).

That once and for all sacrifice, that unwavering willingness of Christ to die for me, that love and understanding of my human frailty, is my inspiration to hold fast to what I know: God is faithful even when I cannot readily see His will for me. He encourages me through Scripture, through friends, through study, and through prayer.

“And let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching,” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

For example, I was reminded yesterday by one of my ‘golden’ friends to praise God in all things – in my sorrow, in my joy, in my confusion, in the most difficult and dark times. And today, God punctuated His reminder to praise Him as I read the last three chapters in the Book of Psalms which exhort Creation from “the heavens to the human heart,” (commentary) to praise God for His mighty works, for the assembly (the church), to praise God for His salvation and judgments, and finally for all things to praise Him:

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord,” (Psalm 148-150).

So, my Lord God, with the breath You have graciously given me to know Your heart and to breathe in Your love for me, I praise You today – in word, in deed, in song, in quietness, and in loud “Halleluiahs!” You have a way of cutting through the fog and clearing the path to see that You are before me, always with me, and upholding me through all that has been and is to come. Most wonderful of all, I praise You for Your very Presence even now! Thank You Jesus, Lord and Savior!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

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

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 66 Books, Amos, Bible in a year reading plan, Hebrews, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

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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2 Kings 21; Hebrews 3; Hosea 14; Psalm 139

It finally happened – my daughter is getting married. Could not be more excited – today they are looking at wedding dresses and I get to stay home and hold the fort.  Not sure what the rest of the world’s dads go through in these moments but I am thrilled for one thing – they have both come together to declare their future home to be centred by their relationship with God.

 He built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my name.” – 2 Kings 21:4   NRSV

I remember how my wife and I, we started our journey at 21 and 22, could only survive our first five years because of the confidence and pride we had in Jesus.

 Christ, however, was faithful over God’s[f] house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm[g] the confidence and the pride that belong to hope. – Hebrews 3:6   NRSV

We tithed when it seemed no one else was, we served and I think this was where we learned what boundaries looked like and we loved.  But all of that came from within, from the Holy Spirit.

O Ephraim, what have I[e] to do with idols?
    It is I who answer and look after you.[f]
I am like an evergreen cypress;
    your faithfulness[g] comes from me. – Hosea 14:8   NRSV

We found ourselves more willing to be vulnerable than most because we knew we were in the palm of God’s hand.  In that secure place, He made Himself known to us.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me. – Psalm 139:1   NRSV

Not sure if you are familiar with, My Heart, Christ’s Home The story impacted me as I took the Navigator 2:7 course.  I still have a few rooms left to give to Jesus and I am working on one right now.  It is my prayer for my daughter and her fiance and for you and I, that our home is Christ’s home first and then the rest will follow.

Lord, my heart is your home. Many times I forget, even during the day.  I know I remember each morning that I wake, but let me remember all day so that others looking and watching how I live can see that you are a member of my family and my home.  I love you so much for loving me.  May my gift of love back to you be the time we spend each day together.  Amen

evanlaar

 

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2 Kings 20; Hebrews 2; Hosea 13; Psalms 137,138

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.” Psalms 138:3 NLT

“Because he is my Father, I do not wonder if his plans for me are good, if he’ll come through like he should.” (I Am No Victim, Kristene DiMarco). I’ve been listening to this song a lot. I wish I could say that I always believe it. How quickly I can forget his faithfulness. Even after all my pleads and prayers and cries to him. But, he is so good. He will show up in unexpected ways to remind me 0f his constant care.

What are mere mortals that you should think about them, or son of man that you should care for him? Yet for a little while you were made lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them authority over all things.” Hebrews 2:6-8 NLT

My son was telling me how excited he was to serve at the banquet that night. We walked through the corn maze and all I could think about was my already aching feet. Jesus served others, he said…he washed others feet. Later that evening as we poured water for the guests, my thoughts turned outward. Oh, how easy it is to get caught up in my own restlessness. It’s when I step out in faith in my weakness, that God shows himself strong. He sustains me.

The Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud. Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me. The Lord will work out his plans for my life-for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.” Psalms 138:6-8 NLT

David knew that the Lord was with him in the midst of his troubles.

When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, O Lord, how I have always been faithful to you and have single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly… “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria.” 2 Kings 20:1-6 NLT

The Lord knew that David and Hezekiah had hearts who sought after him.

I have been the Lord your God ever since I brought you out of Egypt. You must acknowledge no God but me, for there is no other savior. I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land. But when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became proud and forgot me.” Hosea 13:4-6 NLT

Dear Father, I want to have a grateful heart. Thank you for your provision in my life. I love you. Amen.

I give thanks, O Lord, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods.” Psalms 138:1 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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