Category Archives: New Testament

2 Samuel 16; 2 Corinthians 9; Ezekiel 23; Psalm 70, 71

I’m not too sure about wisdom coming with age. Sure, I feel I have a few things to say or to offer the ‘younger generation.’ Yet, I’m well aware that they generally like to just figure this all out by themselves. I definitely am not saying that I want others to look up to me as the example of Christian perfection; the days of hubris have long passed. Life experiences for the most part though, have taught me to say, “All is well with my soul,” even in the midst of hell on earth. Still, when I hear myself complaining of indigestion, this aching pain in my left hip, or the increasing wrinkles on my forehead and loose skin on the underside of my arms, I admit that I am being remiss as a servant of God. For how will focusing on me teach others to glorify God? Smooth sailing through calm waters may not lift the eye to seek God, but a mentor captivates with steady faith.

I think King David felt this, too. The “man after God’s own heart,” submitted to the ups and downs of life, the consequences of sin repented. David accepted with faith whatever landed in his lap (even rocks hurled by his enemy). He admonished others by saying, “So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ “It may be that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day,” (2 Samuel 16:10, 12). Can you hear David’s faith in the only One who knew him from his first cry as a babe to his last breath of life?

I, too, am sure of my salvation and of God’s presence in my  life (hence, all is well with my soul), but I long for the day that my puny efforts in serving Him here in this earthen vessel, will be shattered and left in the dirt while I fly to meet my Lord Christ in the sky. Saying this may sound like the proverbial ‘pie in the sky’ way of life. It’s just that I am well aware that I have a duty to obedience while here on earth, even though my heart is set on the joy to come. This wanting to be with Jesus does not allow me to shirk my responsibilities that continue with age. In fact, as one of the ‘older generation,’ I will be held responsible for the tasks God has given me. So being present is the most meaningful way I can touch others for Christ. Without a doubt, I need MORE of Him, and now!

Psalm 71:9, 18 “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails…” “No also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.”

Thank You, Lord Jesus for opportunities of testimony and service yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Let the last wink of my eyelids declare Your glory as I gaze upwards to You. I pray to work alongside You until You come or You take me home. Maranatha! Come, O Lord!

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.”

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 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Ezekiel, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

2 Sam. 15; 2 Cor. 8; Ezek. 22; Ps. 69

Are you a robber? I’m recovering…

In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:2

Recently, one of my former students contacted me to seek my thoughts on a leadership opportunity at the university. I suggested coffee during the meeting, and her response was “I’ll bring the coffee… What’s your coffee order? And, before you say no, I would really appreciate being able to do something for someone else, even something small like a cup of coffee.” My typical response would be to fight the offer, insisting that it was the responsibility of the more senior person to handle such details. But it occurred to me… I’ve experienced the indescribable joy when I can pay for someone’s meal or offer someone something they need that I have. By not allowing others to do the same for me, was I unconsciously robbing them of a blessing? Even if it was “something small like a cup of coffee”?

Reading this passage of scripture and reflecting on past experiences had me consider that every act of generosity offers the opportunity for a triple blessing… first, a blessing for a need met. Second, giving someone an opportunity to feel grateful. And third, building unity. The first blessing of meeting needs is obvious, so let’s look more closely at the other two, less apparent gifts.

Feeling gratitude is a gift in itself because it soothes our heart and addresses deep emotions. Remember the last time you felt it? Like curling up in a blanket in front of a fire while a snowstorm raged outside… gratitude is sweet.

As for building unity, generosity and gratitude work together. As we receive someone’s generosity, our gratitude pulls us beyond our needs and inspires us to pass along the treasure of generosity however we’re able. In this way, generosity and gratitude pair beautifully to overcome many wants and increases the joy of both the giver and receiver.

Second Corinthians 8:2 says, “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.” When we’re in a position of want, or when we’re the one giving, we learn the give-and-take relationship that God intended as a means of meeting needs and serving each other.

We will all have opportunities to give and receive, and we’d do well to learn to do both with respect. As Paul wrote in 8:14, “Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.” As we experience the roles of giver and receiver, we come to understand each other’s struggles better. In this way, unity is nurtured. And where there’s unity, there’s more generosity, and the gift keeps giving!

Jesus… what better words to say to You than ‘thank you’, for without Your example and sacrifice, our lives would surely look and be very different. You are the original gift that keeps giving, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from the best.”

Greg (gstefanelli)

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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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2 Samuel 11; 2 Corinthians 4; Ezekiel 18; Psalms 62, 63

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Brokenness and adversity came into the world with sin.  I have spent the better part of the past 20 years on a journey with Jesus through brokenness and we are not finished yet.  It has not been an easy road by any means.  We have gone through dark places.  Together.  We have peeled off layers of scar tissue built up over my wounded heart.  Together.  He has never asked me to go into those places of brokenness alone. Sometimes he had to carry me. There were times I could not see him and felt lost and afraid.

I went on a tour of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky when I was a teenager. While we were in the middle, the guide turned off the light.  I put my hand on my nose directly in front of my eyes and could not see my hand.  There was not one ray of light. It was the darkest I had ever experienced. At one point of this journey, that was an analogy of how I felt.  I could not see where I was going.  Luckily, I had hold of Jesus and he knew exactly where we were going.  We have “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”  It guides our way.

This life is hard and just because we are walking with Jesus does not make troubles go away. What happens is HE goes through things with us.  That is how we can say: we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  I had to cling to those words as Jesus carried me through the darkness. They are words he gave me in the midst of my despair to give me hope.  The best decision I ever made was to believe Jesus—not only to believe IN him, but to believe what he said was truth.  There is an end in sight; it is just ahead and I can see it because of his light.  The destination has a name:  freedom!  Each step I take with him gets me closer.

8Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Opening my bible is like walking with a friend. It reminds me of the journey we’ve been on together. As I turn the pages I see notes and dates—reminders of conversations with my Lord.  There are the times I prayed, the times I cried, and the times He took me to exactly what I needed to hear at that precise moment.  There are nuggets of truth, conviction of sin in my life, and words of love spoken to me. It is proof of his love for ME because the words become personal.  No one knows me as he does and he allows me to know him through its pages.  He has shown me what true intimacy looks like.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

 Father I thank you that you take such good care of me. You fill me when I’m empty, encourage me when I’m faltering, and pick me up when I fall.  Your love is better than life.  This journey we have been on is difficult and there are times I wanted to quit. But you pursue me and your love draws me.  Jesus has carried me when I have been weak and I will sing praises to him forever.  It is in His name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Samuel 8,9; 2 Corinthians 2; Ezekiel 16; Psalms 58,59

My wife and I were watching a sermon on grace a few days ago and halfway through she said, “Isn’t this to simple?”  We dialogued afterwards and realized how glad we were that it was.

Can you imagine Mephibosheth’s reaction to grace?

David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan; I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.” 2 Samuel 9:7 NRSV

Do I want that kind of grace, that kind of kindness – for sure I do – for I clearly am a fallen sinner in need of this kind of God’s grace – one who does not deserve it, could never earn it and would never be able to repay it.

My wife and I were also challenged in how we communicate grace to others – and we named a few people in our lives where that needed to be our focus.

For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. 2 Corinthians 2:4 NRSV

We affirmed that there definitely is a grace that needs to be exhibited in our communication styles for at some point we too have come from a place of joy received from the recovery of grace.

I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord God. Ezekiel 16:62-63 NRSV

Yes, my wife and I had the same trouble most of us have – cannot talk about grace without talking about judgement. We both concluded that the all-important work of atonement was not overlooking sin, but our sin being covered by God’s marvellous grace.

O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.  Psalm 59:17 NRSV

With a bit of study, I found the Aramaic Bible translates that last part of this verse as, “and the God of my grace!” Yes, there my wife and I have found our joy as followers of Christ.

When I think of grace, I think of Your presence.  Wherever we may be found today and in whatever activity we may be engaged in, may we gather there with Your favour.  Lord, by Your favour, we mean favour us with Your grace, and with the love of God the Father, and with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

evanlaar

 

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2 Samuel 7; 2 Corinthians 1; Ezekiel 15; Psalms 56&57

When David was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all the surrounding enemies, the king summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace, but the ark of God is out there in a tent!” But that same night the Lord said to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in? I have never lived in a house, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until this very day.” 2 Samuel 7:1-5 NLT

It seems like David has forgotten that the Lord had always been with him. He never left his side.

Now go and say to my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord of Heavens’ Armies has declared: I took you from tending sheep in the pasture and selected you to be the leader of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before your eyes. Now I will make your name as famous as anyone who has every lived on the earth!” 2 Samuel 7:8&9 NLT

But, the Lord won’t let him forget. He reminds him what he delivered him from and David is humbled.

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed, “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And now, Sovereign Lord, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving your servant a lasting destiny! Do you deal with everyone this way, O Sovereign Lord? “What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign Lord. Because of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known to your servant.” 2 Samuel 7:18-21 NLT

I think about my own life and how I am prone to forget how far God has brought me.

It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm in Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.” 2 Cor 1:21-23 NLT

He put his Holy Spirit inside me to give me power. All too often  I  let ingratitude creep in and  I am depleted of joy. And I don’t live in the freedom that he has promised me.

For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.” Psalm 56:13 NLT

Father, thank you for all that you have done in my life. For restoring the broken places. I pray that I never cease to be grateful. I pray that I would rely on your Holy Spirit always. I need you. Amen.

I will thank you, Lord, among the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” Psalms 57:9&10 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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2 Samuel 4,5; 1 Corinthians 15; Ezekiel 13, Psalm 52-54

My father-in-law is losing his battle with cancer. His body is rapidly declining. As we gather around him in these his last days, we watch his physical body become weaker and weaker.

What a comfort to read 1 Corinthians 15. Christ is resurrected from the dead. And in time, all of those who believe in Him will be resurrected to live in His kingdom forever.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own time: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” 1 Corinthians 15:20, 22-23

We remind each other that this is not the end for him, a beloved father, grandfather, husband. He will be made alive. He will receive a resurrected body. God will take his weak body and make it into an imperishable, glorious, powerful body.

“So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised I power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. “ 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Dear God, Thank you for providing a way for us to be with you in your perfect kingdom. You sent your Son to die and be raised from the dead. You have told us to expect to be with you in new bodies. We can rejoice that the end of our time on this earth is a transition to new state of being with you. Give strength to our family as we say goodbye. Help our family through the coming sorrow, for we will miss him greatly.  Amen

Diona

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