Category Archives: Old Testament

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.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

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

1 Chron. 3, 4; Heb. 9; Amos 3; Ps. 146, 147

I don’t want you to prove you are powerful… I want you to show, through your actions, that you are mine…

His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. Psalm 147:10-11

Recently, I received an e-mail from a former student asking if I would take a survey she had created for a theology class. When I inquired as to “why me?”, she replied, “because you’re a very religious man.” I believe I understood what she meant, but it caused me to reflect more deeply on her choice of words. Through my student’s eyes, am I religious because she doesn’t see an alignment between my words and my actions? Or was it simple case of using a word to mean something deeper. For those who know me, I don’t want to be remembered as a “religious man”, but rather a man who lived his life devoted to his Savior, living, through action, the model of a man that Jesus demonstrated.  I want to be known as a child of God… that my life now should be a demonstration of words, aligned with action, through understanding of scripture and an intimate relationship with Jesus.

So… this reflection offers the question… if you could make sure the world remembered one thing about you, what would that one thing be? Would it be for the kindness you expressed to others? How about having worked hard to get that great job? Or perhaps for becoming financially secure?

While these are noteworthy achievements, it is important that we remain mindful that we were created for higher purpose… that when it comes down to it, it feels wonderful knowing that the energy we used was spent on worthwhile endeavors. No one enjoys feeling useless. Yet, if we get too caught up in our own agendas, or maintaining a “me” mentality, we have the potential of losing focus on God’s plan and His desires for our lives. More than anything else, He wants us to be His… particularly, our hearts.

He cares more about the condition of our soul, and us belonging to Him, than any credential we could earn on Earth. He desires that our lives plant spiritual seeds, and that our successes to point others, not to ourselves, but to Him!

Now… back to the original question… more than anything else… will we be seen and remembered as being a child of God first, above all things?

Father… I am overwhelmed knowing that I belong to You… It is an amazing gift, but one that can easily be neglected. I never want to be known as religious, but as Your child who seeks relationship with His Savior through actions. Amen!

Greg (gstefanelli)

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament, Psalms

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

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Corinthians, 2 Kings, 66 Books, Hebrews, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Psalms, Uncategorized

2 Kings 24; Hebrews 6; Joel 3; Psalm 143

Have you ever been thirsty? Really thirsty? Last summer my family and I want on a hike at Mt.Rainier. It was spectacular. But the sun was hot and the air was dry. We thought we had brought enough water to last for the hike but the arid conditions caught us by surprise. Luckily we realized we were getting low and were able to ration our water. I experienced a thirst beyond a normal thirst. It was all I could think about. I longed for a cool drink of water.

In Psalm 143, David is experiencing a different kind of thirst:

Lord, hear my prayer,
    listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
    come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,
    for no one living is righteous before you.
The enemy pursues me,
    he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
    like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
    I meditate on all your works
    and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
    I thirst for you like a parched land.

When we are thirsty we need water. When we thirst for God, He fills us with Living Water. I think it isn’t a coincidence that God created our human bodies to work in such a way that it reminds us daily of our need for relationship with Him. Every time we take a sip of water it can remind of us of God’s satisfying goodness. When we go too long without it, we become parched.

Lord, help me to make spending time with You and time in your word as natural as it is to fill my body with water. Help me to have a healthy thirst for you. Thank you for the flow of Living Water that is always available and never runs out. Help me not to look for other things to quench my thirst because they will never satisfy.

Ann (naturelady)

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Psalms, Uncategorized

2 Kings 23; Hebrews 5; Joel 2; Psalm 142

24 Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the Lord. 25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses. 

God wants my complete devotion. There is nothing that should be higher in my life than Him.  However, is that the case for me?  So many times I see my bible sitting in the place I have my quiet time.  I know God is calling to me to spend time with him.  But I just can’t today, Lord.  I got up too late and have to run to get to work.  Not tonight, Lord.  My favorite TV show is on.  What does it hurt to read that book?  Everyone else is reading it.  I have a really big decision to make.  I think I’ll call a friend instead of praying and talking to God about it.  I am feeling lonely and unloved.  I think I’ll eat anything I can to stuff the feelings and numb the pain.

I may not have Asherah poles and statues of animals sitting around my house, but there are so many other things I can put at a higher priority than God. Yet, the joy and satisfaction that comes from the sweet time with I spend with Him, so outweighs anything else.  He will meet my needs, fill the emptiness inside, and direct my decisions. All that and more comes to me when I put Him first, and highest, in my life.  Wouldn’t I love to have it said of me, “She turned to the LORD with all her heart and with all her soul and with all her strength?”  I am a work in progress.

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—     the great locust and the young locust,     the other locusts and the locust swarm[b] my great army that I sent among you.

The first time I heard the verse, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” I was at a women’s retreat. It was the first one I had ever attended and I was a very new believer.  I was in deep pain at the time.  So much had happened in my life due to my brokenness and bad decisions.  I needed hope that a better life was possible.  Towards the end of the retreat, a woman got up and gave her testimony.  One of the verses she quoted was Joel 2:25.  I sensed the Spirit whisper to my soul, “that verse is for you!”  It was almost as if I could audibly hear the promise of the Lord.  He wanted me to know He could restore relationships and rebuild my life.

Looking at the verse now, many years later, I noticed something different. The “locusts” in my life back then were of my own doing.  But these “locusts” were referring to a plague that God had sent.  God purposefully sent them to get the attention of the nation of Judah.  He was calling them to repent. He wanted to be first in their lives.

12“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 

God loves us so much and he wants us all to himself. I have learned over my years of walking with him that he will send “locusts” in various forms to draw me back to him.  As I’ve heard it stated, God is more interested in my character than my comfort.  There have been times he has allowed me to experience the devastation only to build me up even stronger on the other side.  Those idols pull at me and promise fulfillment, yet never deliver.  Those “locusts” force me to my knees in repentance.

Surely he has done great things! 21 Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice.  Surely the LORD has done great things!

He has done great things in my life. I have every reason to be glad and rejoice. Hallelujah!

Heavenly Father, I ask you to forgive me for the times I do not put you first. My life is so much better when you are in your proper place.  No matter what comes at me, I can handle it because I am not alone.  There is nothing else that will give me the strength I need; nothing else will fill the emptiness inside.  Thank you for never giving up on me. 

Cindy (gardnlady)

Leave a comment

Filed under 2 Kings, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Uncategorized

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

 

2 Comments

Filed under 2 Kings, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Hebrews, Hosea, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under 2 Kings, 66 Books, Hebrews, Hosea, Psalms