Category Archives: James

Ezekiel 37-39; Psalm 87; John 13

Someone noticed that I talk a lot about God’s care and protection.  It seems like I come across these themes quite a bit, especially in my readings found in the Old Testament.

Their king will always come from the family of my servant King David and will care for them like a shepherd. The people of Israel will faithfully obey my laws. They and their descendants will live in the land I gave my servant Jacob, just as their ancestors did. I solemnly promise to bless the people of Israel with unending peace. I will protect them and let them become a powerful nation. My temple will stand in Israel for all time – Ezekiel 37:24-26  CEV

I think it excites me to read these passages of scripture because they relate so freely to the love that Jesus has for me.  If He can love a group of people who reject Him so often, so fully, lacking so much gratitude for what He has done in their lives, then I know His love for me can equal such actions from me.

It was before Passover, and Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and to return to the Father. He had always loved his followers in this world, and he loved them to the very end. – John 13:1  CEV

Unconditional love, a word that is known but a word rarely experienced.  I look for it in all my relationships that matter.  It is inside me to want and I believe it is in me to give, but I choose judgement over love sometimes.  Somehow I feel it gives me more power.  But love changes the world, as it has me.  If I want someone to know just how much they mean to me, how much I cherish them, how much they matter to God, then I need to let them know of Jesus love for them.  Jesus can care and protect more than anyone or anything this world has to offer. What other gift can I give to you other than Jesus and His love – what other gift would you want from me?

Father, remind me that your unconditional love is the greatest gift I can give to someone today.  No matter if they are looking for something else, like the forty year old lame beggar at the Beautiful Gate who was looking for a gift of money.  Peter and John said, we do not have money, but we have Jesus, can we give Him to you? Taking the man by the hand they said stand up and walk.  That Lord, that image of love, has not left my mind for some time.  That is the kind of love I want to give away today.  Fill me with Your Spirit and enable me to do that with those I meet.  Thank you for allowing me to be a bit of You in someone’s life. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, BG2, Ezekiel, James, John, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Zechariah

Jeremiah 37, 21, 34; Psalms 79; James 5

“Zedekiah son of Josiah succeeded Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim as the king of Judah.  He was appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  But neither King Zedekiah nor his attendants nor the people who were left in the land listened to what the Lord said through Jeremiah.  Nevertheless, King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the priest, son of Maaseiah, to ask Jeremiah, “Please pray to the Lord our God for us.”  Jeremiah 37:1-3 NLT

King Zedekiah’s heart wasn’t right before the Lord.  He didn’t want to listen to what Jeremiah said.  But, he wanted his prayers answered.  How many times have I come before the Lord with the wrong heart? Feeling far from him.  Knowing that I needed to ask for forgiveness.  What a contrast to David’s humble plea…

“Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the glory of your name.  Save us and forgive our sins for the honor of your name.” Psalms 79:9 NLT

Sometimes “Help” is the only word I can utter.

“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray.  Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.  Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.  Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well.  And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.” James 5:13-15 NLT 

I am amazed at all the prayers God has answered in my life.  I look through old photos and pause to reflect on his goodness.  A verse comes to mind, “Who am I Lord, that you have brought me and my family this far?” (2 Sam 7:18).  But, still at times I forget all he has done. I get tired in the waiting.

“Elijah was human as we are, and yet he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!  Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.” James 5:17&18

If it would have been three and a half days, I’m sure Elijah would have been grateful .  But, I can imagine how elated he was after three and a half years.  Did he ever want to give up hope? Maybe. But, he didn’t give up praying. What an example his faith is to me.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16 NLT

Dear Father, I praise you for who you are.  Thank you for your faithfulness.  How you care about my every need.  Thank you for your promises and for the hope I have in you. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Jeremiah 27, 28, 29, 24; James 4

This morning’s passage is a hard one for me for two reasons… First I like to think I am in charge of my own life and I can make things happen on my own. That’s such a total self lie and this passage supports that truth. God is the one who is in control of our days. Second, is our life really that brief!?! Is it really a mist that is here one second and gone the next? Yes it is! Not something we like to think about…

James 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16 [ESV])

Regarding the second, Andy Stanley reinforces this truth and shares with us that we serve a God who is from everlasting. Only by throwing our lot in with Him can our mist-like existence have meaning. That’s why every morning my prayer is that in the context of God’s everlasting I can make a difference for His kingdom work. That makes our mist have an eternal impact.

How bout the first… well only by trusting God for everything including our days and our successes and failures will our days be ordered right. Who are you trusting in for your meaning everyday? Thinking that God does order our days and there is nothing we can do but follow Him wholeheartedly is our best course of action. Try it today and see what happens. It just may be your best way forward ever!

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Jeremiah 22, 23, 26; Psalm 77; James 2

Your road led through the sea,
    your pathway through the mighty waters—
    a pathway no one knew was there! (Psalm 77:19, NLT)

The psalmist (Asaph) is troubled and feels alone, and his opening words in Psalm 77 seem to ring reaching, empty and unheard. He gets his bearings together, and starts to tell himself of all the good things God has done, and this verse stood out to me in relief (both raised from the other words and from encouragement too).

Your road led through the sea. It led through the mighty waters. It was a pathway no one knew of; they didn’t know it was there. Faced with a pursuing army/enemy behind them and an expansive sea ahead of them, why did they choose the water? Why didn’t they turn back and fight? That moment before the path was revealed must have been thick with pressure. It must have seemed lose-lose. Someone must have felt torn in wonder. I stand in the words of the moment and marvel at the road that leads through the sea, through mighty waters, the road that no one knew was yet there.

This verse is the verse foundation around the rest of the reading for me–of Jeremiah’s retelling of the Lord’s repetition: do the right thing.

This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! (Jeremiah 22:3a, NLT)

15 But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!
    Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink.
But he was just and right in all his dealings.
    That is why God blessed him.
16 He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
    and everything went well for him.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?”
    says the Lord. (Jeremiah 22:15-16, NLT)

And in James, the underscore of faith, and that without works, it is useless, dead.

18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? James 2:18-20, NLT.

Lord, I don’t need to continue to fight a past that wants me back into captivity when you have already secured my freedom and my future. Some situations seem lose-lose. Stressful. Threatening. Sometimes I’m not sure which way to turn. But I turn to you and I take to heart your words to do the next right thing. Help me to discern what is right, just, and wise. Help me to see your path before me, and to walk in it.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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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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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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