Category Archives: New Testament

Numbers 33; Psalm 78:1-37; Isaiah 25; 1 John 3

Children are so important.  It does not matter what age of the world we look into, children play an incredible role as we see them as a gift to our families.  When I think of the one and final plague in Egypt – the one that finally turned Pharaoh decision – it was the loss of every family’s first born.

They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the passover the Israelites went out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians, while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them. – Numbers 33:3-4 NRSV

Being a Christian Education Coordinator in my church helped me focus on the children and their families.  It was there that I learned how weak our education perspective was compared to other faith traditions.   I spent 17 hours a year with my kids in direct biblical education while the others were closer to 400 and 600 hours.  I lot of that had to do with traditional celebration periods, but still, it was engagement with God’s Word.  So it is no surprise to see this call to action in the Psalms —

He established a decree in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children; that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and rise up and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their ancestors, stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God. – Psalm 78:5-8 NRSV

Here I am today – I am called a child of God.  I know I need to spend time getting to know my Father.  This world is not where my hope lies, it lies with my Him.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he[a] is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. – 1 John 3:1-3 NRSV

My prayer today is similar to the one Isaiah prayed —

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. – Isaiah 25:1

As Your child Lord, I yield myself into Your hands that you may shape me and mold me and then may I be used by You to glorify Your name. Amen.

evanlaar

1 Comment

Filed under 1 John, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Numbers, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Numbers 32; Psalms 77; Isaiah 24; 1 John 2

I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! …Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations. By your strong arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.” Psalms 77:1-15 NLT

How many times do I default to thinking that something will not work out. Especially when it’s not going the way that I thought it would. Instead of living with hope in expectation that God is in control. And that He will work it out in His way and His timing… working all things together for my good. Why is this so difficult sometimes? I am thankful for His word today. Shedding light on areas of my heart that I need to change. Reminding me of His faithfulness. That there is always a “But, God.” And He will make a way that is better than anything I can dream up.

Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters-a pathway no one knew was there! You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds” Psalms 77:19&20 NLT

It’s so hard to let go of things that I hold so dear. My expectations and the places in my heart that I don’t want anyone to see. Because letting go doesn’t mean my hands are empty. It means that I am trusting God with it. What do I need to let go of so that I cling more tightly to Jesus?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1 John 2:15 NLT

Thank you Father that you are not afraid of my questions, you welcome them. You meet me there, but prod me on to change. Help me to live in close fellowship with you everyday. Forgive me for when I rely on myself. I praise you for who you are. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

4 Comments

Filed under 1 John, 66 Books, Isaiah, Numbers, Psalms

Numbers 31, Psalms 75 & 76, Isaiah 23, 1 John 1

One of my favorite songs circa 1995 starts off with some hard to swallow truth. “I keep trying to find a life, on my own, apart from you.” Independence instead of dependence. Pride instead of humility. John begins the chapter  sharing the importance of fellowship with the One True God. From the beginning, it’s always been about relationship with Him and yet our human nature so frequently wants independence.

We focus on ourselves. Day in and day out we deceive ourselves. Our minds and hearts are put to ease when we compare to ourselves others and think, “I’m doing better at ________ than _________”. I have read the following passage probably one hundred times in my life but there are always new little pieces that stick out with each reading.

Deception. Selfishness. Pride. Forgiveness. Redemption.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. John 1

 

Simply put, this passage reminds me of my incredible need for a Savior! As much as a I want to walk in the light at all times, there moments, days or even seasons when the lights are dim. As I was sitting here this morning reflecting on this passage, the Holy Spirit brought a few questions to my mind.

  1. Is there any area where I am walking in darkness opposite from fellowship with the Lord?
  2. In what ways am I lying to or deceiving myself and not practicing truth?
  3. Are there areas of deception that I need to confess to the Lord?

Confession of sins not only leads to restoration of fellowship with the Lord but also one another. It’s Jesus’ blood that cleanses us from our sin and wanderings in the dark. Each and every day I must ask the  Holy Spirit to reveal those areas of sin that are not acceptable and spend time in self reflection and repentance. Naturally, on my own, I may not see my sin but the Spirit will reveal it.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for creating us with a desire for relationship. Thank your for making a way through Jesus Christ to be in fellowship with you forever. Holy Spirit, would you reveal to me those areas where I may be walking in darkness and help me to turn and run to your light! Amen. 

2 Comments

Filed under 1 John, Uncategorized

Numbers 28; Psalm 72; Isaiah 19, 20; 2 Peter 1

Numbers 28

Numbers 28 is clear instructions concerning offerings for those days. These offerings had to be brought regularly and according to prescribed rituals. Following these instructions and preparing everything must of taken an age but must also have given the people the opportunity to prepare their hearts correctly. The act of giving or offering is an act of worship and if our hearts are not correctly prepared, this worship is meaningless. It is so much easier to give and make offerings if our hearts are prepared with thankfulness.

1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give this command to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Make sure that you present to me at the appointed time my food offerings, as an aroma pleasing to me.’ 

Psalm 72

1 Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness.

2 May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.

God desires all who rule under him to be righteous and just. With our leaders and politicians in the news every day we get a front row seat to their “righteousness and justice”. If only all the world leaders would commit to these two qualities right? Pray for our leaders that they might realize their need for the Lord and that He would help them rule with righteousness and justice.

Isaiah 19

Egypt was well known for its wisdom, but here its wise men and officials were deceived and foolish. True wisdom can come only from God. We must ask him for wisdom to guide all our decisions, or we too will be uncertain and misdirected

11 The officials of Zoan are nothing but fools; the wise counsellors of Pharaoh give senseless advice. How can you say to Pharaoh, “I am one of the wise men, a disciple of the ancient kings”? 12 Where are your wise men now? Let them show you and make known what the Lord Almighty has planned against Egypt. 13 The officials of Zoan have become fools, the leaders of Memphis are deceived; the cornerstones of her peoples have led Egypt astray. 14 The Lord has poured into them a spirit of dizziness; they make Egypt stagger in all that she does, as a drunkard staggers around in his vomit. 15 There is nothing Egypt can do— head or tail, palm branch or reed.

 Isaiah 20

2 at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.

God asked Isaiah to do something that seamed shameful and illogical. At times, God may ask us to take steps we don’t understand. We must obey God in complete faith, for he will never ask us to do something wrong.

2 Peter 1

Peter lists several of faiths actions: learning to know God better, developing perseverance , doing God’s will, loving others. These actions do not come automatically or naturally, they require hard work. They are not optional; all of them must be a continual part of the Christian life. We have a great responsibility so ask God to empower and enable you to learn and grow.

God Bless

Leave a comment

Filed under 2 Peter, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Numbers, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Numbers 26; Psalm 69; Isaiah 16; I Peter 4

Isaiah 16:5 “In mercy the throne will be established; and One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.”

Yet what of my erring, essentially my death wish? What darkness creeps in on the heels of hope firmly rooted in the coming joy of Messiah’s reign? For I know my future in Christ. Thoughts jump back in time to the mistakes and purposeful wrongs that I defended then and rue today.  My thoughts race in ‘now’ time to what ought to be and what I’m called to be. No perfection here. And thanks to the Holy Spirit, real conviction in real time. I submit willingly and pray for mercy.

Psalm 69: 13 “But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, hear me in the truth of Your salvation.”

What more can I ask? For Jesus Christ has brought salvation and provided unending mercy – in fact, mercies new every morning. Instead of my crimes screaming condemnation to the heavens, God listens to the splendid sound of Christ’s salvation song about me. I am saved. I am covered by His blood. And just as His mercy covers me, so my prayers and love for others should mirror His mercy when I experience rejection, humiliation, abandonment, and hurts inflicted by others. Only unconditional positive regard for another human being is acceptable.

I Peter 4:8 “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” Yes, “The humble shall see this and be glad; and you who seek God, your hearts shall live. For the Lord hears the poor, and does not despise His prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in them,” (Psalm 69:32-34).

Worship, I read once, is defined as bowing down or kissing the ground to show profound reverence. Not singing, though our praises in word and song are beautiful to our Lord. More than a heart swelling with love for God, and even more than a prostrate sinner repentant, the hands and feet of love, hospitality, and forgiveness pleases our Lord best.

Father God, You have modeled the ultimate sacrifice of love, mercy, and forgiveness. Shall I be paltry in giving the same or lavish in extending the same to others? Though I am in no way able to love like You, forgive to the width of Your expansive salvation, nor extend mercy for others or myself to the depths of Your sensitivity, I will give myself over to You. Make me Your instrument that my song will be a testimony of Your unfettered reach to those who need Your love the most. And who is it that does not?

In Jesus Christ’s precious Name,

Yours because I choose no other.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

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

2 Comments

Filed under 1 Peter, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Numbers, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Num. 25; Ps. 68; Isa. 15; 1 Pet. 3

Would there be enough evidence to find you guilty as charged?

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives… Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3

In lieu of the current-day statistics on marriage, the good news is there’s a 100% chance of success in marriage! A rather bold statement in light of how marriage is portrayed today in the world. I know that 100% sounds extreme, but it is possible! How? Because our God made marriage and He never makes or designs anything to fail! Nor does He make anyone to fail. God speaks to us throughout His word in various forms, but nowhere more clearly and direct, than in 1 Peter 3, which speaks to both men and women about His perfect plan for covenant relationship. And, just like in Ephesians 5, men and women are given specific instructions to submit to one another in the fear of God, then continues with specific instructions to each on their responsibility.

So, if the “manual” tells us what to do, why do so many Christian men and a women fail to fulfill their God-given calling as husband and wife? Why is the divorce rate of Christians and non-Christians virtually the same? The answer is simple… 18”! The distance between the head and the heart… it’s the distance between the knowing and the doing, as many Christians have chosen to ignore or reject God’s perfect plan for marriage into their hearts. Head knowledge offers a mental perspective of God’s plan, however it is in the heart where true relationship with God resides and actions have the best chance of survival.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Other factors are at work, as well, which threaten God’s plan for marriage… contemporary attitudes towards marriage have distorted God’s architecture of mutual submission to mean something negative, using descriptors such as dominated, oppressed, and dictatorial instead of the divine expression of God’s love and understanding for His children and how they innately function in the context of relationship.

Jimmy Evans, in his book “Marriage on the Rock,” stated that of the scriptures related to relationship, couples love Ephesians 5 because of what it says about their partners responsibility to relationship, not their own! Perhaps the answer to living according to God’s plan lies in considering what scripture says about ourselves first, and inviting God into the process of holding us accountable to our roles, and let Him handle the rest. Man… Woman… God… three strands… not easily broken!

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

God, who made us, understands completely that the innate need of a woman is security and to be loved, and for a man, to be respected and honored… both 1 Peter 3 and Ephesians 5 speak to this directly. Interestingly, women are not commanded to love their husbands, rather to submit to their husbands… to understand and support them, as that is the language that speaks to men! Men? 1 Peter and Ephesians 5 use different language on what you’re to do… the command for men is to love their wives, as Christ loved the church, who gave Himself up for her… to live with her in an understanding way. Different approach… different language… same origin… SACRIFICE for each other, using the language of your partner! Isn’t He amazing? God knew what He was doing and His design is perfect! God’s plan isn’t meant to harm us… QUITE the contrary. God’s plan, at its foundation, is to protect us… it’s the instructions on how to penetrate brokenness and speak deep within our partner’s heart.

Perhaps, if things aren’t going so well relationally, prayers aren’t being answered, it might be worth considering a different approach… How about God’s plan for marriage… so that our prayers may not be hindered.

So… a quick question… (answer honestly!)…

If you were accused of “acting like a Christian _____ (husband/wife)”, would there be enough evidence to find you guilty as charged?

Father, in our humanness, we often forget that You designed us… and who better than You to guide us how best to live as husband and wife. Lord, soften our hearts to adopt Your way as the only way to live this life in relationship as husbands and wives, so that our actions towards one another are a tangible expression of You living within us. Amen!

Greg (gstefanelli)

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 Peter, 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ecclesiastes, Ephesians, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

Numbers 23; Psalms 64-65; Isaiah 13; 1Peter 1

Numbers 23 was written for a people prone to squeezing the life out of living. It’s written for me. Self imposed to-do lists are usually far longer than what can be humanly accomplished in one day, and (I confess) are often, how I define success that day. I joke that I don’t want to miss a thing out of life, but then if left to my own devices,  miss what is most important.

My inclination is to do, not to be. My family knows when I am on this train. Once my daughter looked me square in the eyes and said, “Mom, you’re not here.” And she was right; my brain was chasing the next squirrel up a tree. Somehow, I never catch the squirrel.

God knows that this endless doing never satisfies;  He commands his people to STOP, set themselves apart (consecrate) and rest. He appointed festivals and “holy convocations” and warned the people that if they refused to deny their inclinations that they “would be cut off from the people.” Numbers 23:30.  It seems to me that is exactly what I do to myself, when I refuse to rest in God and keep up my futile chase of doing. All this striving is really a fear that God won’t meet me if I stop my talking, stop my doing.

Enter the Word of God to cleanse, refresh and restore:

You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.  ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. the grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ 1Peter 1:23-25

When I stop moving and listen and look, God opens up my heart and does a work within that I don’t understand. His presence fills the restless, greedy places and there is peace:

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it:  the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow. The hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.  Psalm 65:9-13

The Psalmist describes a place inhabited by a people who are following God. On another level, he describes the human heart, when God is allowed access to the land within.

Lord, you know my inclination to go and do, but you call me to come, be still, and enjoy the Sabbath rest you have prepared for me . Forgive me when I have chosen distraction over you. Thank you for your patient, steady call to come and rest in your presence. Thank you for the healing rain of your grace and the joy that springs up within my soul at you goodness. You are mine and I am yours. Amen.

Kathy

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Peter, 66 Books, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Numbers, Psalms, Uncategorized