Category Archives: Old Testament

Genesis 23; Matthew 22; Nehemiah 12; Acts 22

When I was in seminary a rather famous religious figure turned his life over to Jesus in a new and fresh way. Then he felt as if he needed to learn the Bible and theology from a whole new perspective so he came to seminary. Well all at once they wanted this person to be speaking in chapel and representing the seminary in many venues. He had been a true follower of Christ for only eighteen months where I had been one for some eighteen years. I felt belittled and not appreciated for what I brought to the table in that seminary.

In today’s reading we have another dramatic conversion in the person of the Apostle Paul. We read it below:

6 An intense light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
8“I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, the one you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light,
10“I said, ‘What should I do, Lord?’
“The Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything that you have been assigned to do.’
11“Since I couldn’t see because of the brightness of the light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and went into Damascus. 12 Someone named Ananias, a devout man according to the law, who had a good reputation with all the Jews living there, 13 came and stood by me and said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight.’ And in that very hour I looked up and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has appointed you to know his will, to the Righteous One, and to hear the words from his mouth, 15 since you will be a witness for him to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now, why are you delaying? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ (Acts 22:6-16 [CSB])

Now Ananias could have been like me and sulked because he was a devout follower of Jesus and here’s Saul, one who had persecuted and killed Christians, yet, no he went and even called Saul his brother.

We all have stories. Some are dramatic while others are quiet and deep. What is your story? How has God brought you to himself? Knowing where we were before Jesus — even if we were five or six years old when it happened — it’s a dramatic and awesome story to tell. Tell your story to someone today. I’m sure it will be an encouragement and may even draw someone into the kingdom.

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Genesis 16; Matthew 15; Nehemiah 5; Acts 15

How many times I have struggled with something and called it my “thorn in the flesh?” Abram’s wife, Sarai was no different.

Abram’s wife Sarai had not borne him any children. But she had an Egyptian slave woman named Hagar, and so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Why don’t you sleep with my slave? Perhaps she can have a child for me.” Abram agreed with what Sarai said. – Genesis 16:1-2 GNT

Though I try to hide it, there is pain from not seeing the hand of God moving in my life. If I leave it unattended, even the hope of prayers not yet answered leaves me. If I have been vocal, there is public shame. Then I come to the place where I blame God and that brings a different kind of pain in my life.

So I walk around and from time to time speaking audibly – “Lord have mercy on me” – just to clear my soul. No different then the woman looking to Jesus for healing.

Jesus left that place and went off to the territory near the cities of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman who lived in that region came to him. “Son of David!” she cried out. “Have mercy on me, sir! My daughter has a demon and is in a terrible condition.” – Matthew 15:21-22 GNT

It is a form of intercessory prayer.

That is what Paul and Barnabas wanted to do in their missionary journey – visit all the church plants, see what was going on, and then deliver a report so the whole church could be praying for them.

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in every town where we preached the word of the Lord, and let us find out how they are getting along.”  – Acts 15:36 GNT

Am I rejoicing, am I secure in who I am in Christ, am I weeping and am I experiencing comfort in my salvation?  The offer is to come and pray together.

Father, even when I think You are not there, may Your Holy Spirit remind me of Your promise to always be there. Do let let me think too long or too hard on myself so that it hardens my heart towards You. I need Your mercy and if that is all I cry out to You for, give it to me in the largest measure possible. As long as I have You, You are all I need. Being strengthened, I can walk alongside others You send my way that need encouragement and hope just like I did. Thank You that I can talk to You at anytime. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Nehemiah, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Genesis 15; Matthew 14; Nehemiah 4; Acts 14

“Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can.  That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.  Then the Lord told him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession” But Abram replied, O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it? So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day and said, “I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River.”  Genesis 15:5-8;18 NLT

In the midst of his faith, Abram still doubted.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said.  “Take courage.  I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.  “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.  Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.  “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Matthew 14:26-31 NLT

Jesus reached out for Peter in the middle of his doubt.

“While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet.  He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked.  He was sitting and listening as Paul preached.  Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed.  So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.” Acts 14:8-10 NLT

Oh, to have faith like this man had.  To believe when everything in me is telling me to doubt.  How do I rise above the distrust that threatens to steal my hope?  I choose to remember God’s goodness.  His past faithfulness.  His unchanging character.  I cry out to him, knowing that he hears me.  I stay in his word and listen for his voice.  My faith has been tested this past year.  But, when I change my perspective, there is a shift in how I see.

“Faith is a prism we need to see hope when all seems lost, to survive the furnace of suffering, to grow despite the pain.  Faith is the prism we need to see hope when all seems lost, to survive the furnace of suffering, to grow despite the pain. Faith allows us to see that it’s okay to have doubt, but we doubt the doubt more than the promise of the One who never breaks his word.”(When it’s So Dark All You Can See is Faith,  Dr. Lee Warren, Jan 10, 2020, annvoskamp.com)

Dear Father, thank you that you are with me always.  Thank you that you are fighting for me and my family.(Nehemiah 4:20).  I praise you for who you are.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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Genesis 7; Ezra 7; Matthew 7; Acts 7

The readings today caused me to remember God’s goodness, His provision, and His protection.

21 All the living things on earth died—birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people. 22 Everything that breathed and lived on dry land died. 23 God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat. 24 And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days. (Gen. 7:21-24 NLT)

What must it have been like on that ark knowing everything around you was being destroyed while you trust God for your life? I have been inside my house when really fierce winds and rain raged outside—it was the kind of storm that take down trees and rips off roofs. I must admit to feeling a sense of fear as to my fate. What struck me most reading the chapter this time was how God not only protected them but also provided for the needs of the eight passengers and all the livestock, animals, and birds contained safely within. Noah had no idea how long they were going to be afloat and he was told by God to load enough food for all of them. Only God alone could have made the food last for the year from the time they got on the boat until the time they got off! God’s goodness, His provision, His protection.

27 Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who made the king want to beautify the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem! 28 And praise him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty nobles! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me. And I gathered some of the leaders of Israel to return with me to Jerusalem. (Ezra 7:27-28 NLT)

The Israelites were finally able to go home after their long exile. God caused the King of Assyria to favor them to the point he even provided the means with which they could rebuild their Temple. He had protected a remnant of his people and sent them back to their own land. God is good!

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matt 7:24-27)

As I thought back to the worst storm I could remember, I was thankful God had protected me and my home. The neighbor’s roof had shingles blown over the neighborhood, there were downed trees, and lots of debris. That is such a physical example of what Jesus is talking about—the other type of storm that enters our life. His teachings are the bedrock we build upon. He is that safe harbor in a storm. I’ve lived through several storms of that type—the kind that almost take you out because of the pain they cause to your spirit. I am not sure I would have survived the storm without Jesus to cling to. I truly learned of God’s sovereignty. I learned of his protection, his provision, and his goodness. I can trust he will be there again whenever the next storm hits.

55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” (Acts 7:55-56)

Lord Jesus, I look forward to seeing your face one day as Stephen did. I will be able to thank you in person for your protection, your provision, and your goodness in my life. I thank you for the storms I’ve endured so far because they drew me closer to you. I know it was only after the storm had blown over that I could see your purpose in it and it was always for my benefit. I lift my voice with Ezra’s and sing, “Praise the Lord”. In your precious name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Genesis 1; Matthew 1; Ezra 1; Acts 1

It is my prayer and hope that in our first day together, in the start of a new decade, as we engage in the first chapter of these amazing books, that we look to the art of talking with God. May this prayer be the first step to take us to that special place with Him.

 In the beginning, when God created the universe. Genesis 1:1 GNT

Our great and glorious God, creator of the heavens and the earth: We come before You this morning, for You are the beginner of all good things. All creation sings Your praises. From morning light to evening shade, from the expanse of the sky to the breadth of the sea, all that You have made declares that You are God and that there is none like You.

You caused the earth to sprout, to yield, to bear sweet fruit of many flavors. You gave the sun to warm us with its golden rays, the moon to illume the evening tide, the stars to keep us wondering and to prevent our wandering. You made the secret creatures of the sea and the soloists of the sky. You alone fashioned cows to feed in the open field, lizards to leap across desert rocks, and great beasts to pad along the forest floor. For all these things we praise You. They are all of Your design, Your execution, and exist for Your pleasure.

And yet as if all of this were not enough for You, you have done even more. You created man in your own image, male and female. You’ve called us to multiply ourselves, commanded us to exercise dominion over this world, and encouraged us to enjoy its food for our need. How easy it is for us at this moment to share in Your judgment that this is all good, even very good!

And still we wonder. If the lights of our heaven are so glorious, how much more the lights of Yours? If by Your word alone You have commanded into existence a world of astonishing creatures, what have You commanded for the creatures around Your throne? If this is the glory of the world that is seen, what will be the glory of a world unseen? If we are left breathless at the sights of a world that is tarnished by sin, what will be our wonder at a world where You have banished all evil? If we are stunned at the sight of your creation, how will we measure our amazement if we are granted even a glimpse of the Creator’s glory?

And so we come to You this morning not merely to sing Your praises, but also to bring our petitions. We confess that we have not respected enough Your creation. We confess that we have not reverenced enough You our Creator! Forgive us Father, and fit us for the new heavens and the new earth. Forgive us, male and female, for all that we have done that is not good, and refashion us, in your mercy, into the image of Your Son. Call the Spirit who once hovered over the waters to hold sway over our hearts. And hear us for the sake of our loving Saviour, who for our sakes hung on a tree bearing the bitter fruit of all our sin. AMEN. 

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Psalms 117; Psalms 125

“Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion; they will not be defeated but will endure forever.  Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever.  The wicked will not rule the land of the godly, for then the godly might be tempted to do wrong.  O Lord, do good to those who are good, whose hearts are in tune with you.  But banish those who turn to crooked ways, O Lord.  Take them away with those who do evil.  May Israel have peace!” Psalms 125 NLT

Where is my trust? Trust has been hard for me this year. It seems like God is building into it, in situations I can’t control. It has made me question if I am operating out of fear or faith.  There have been times when I have been battle weary and tempted to lose hope. But, in simple obedience I have seen the Holy Spirit move in miraculous ways.  He has given me strength that I didn’t know I had. And has used me in spite of my weakness.  When I look for how He  is working, it takes the focus off of me and puts it back on Him.

“Praise the Lord, all you nations.  Praise him, all you people of the earth.  For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.  Praise the Lord!” Psalms 117 NLT

When I reflect on His goodness, I see beyond the struggle to the things that matter…Bravery. Vulnerability. Old patterns being torn down. Child like faith. Purpose. Persistence. Hope restored.

Dear Father, I praise you for who you are.  I want my heart to be in tune with you.  I want to live expectant in the new year.  Amen.

Amy(amyctannner)

 

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Job 40-42 & Psalm 124

Psalm 124:1-8, 1 If the Lord had not been on our side- let Israel say- 2 If the Lord had not been on our side when men attacked us, 3 then they would have swallowed us alive in their burning anger against us. 4 Then the waters would have engulfed us; the torrent would have swept over us; 5 the raging waters would have swept over us. 6 Praise the Lord, who has not let us be ripped apart by their teeth. 7 We have escaped like a bird from the hunter’s net; the net is torn, and we have escaped. 8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Christian Standard Version)

Has this been your story this year? It may not be people, but could be circumstances. Has God protected you? If you belong to Him you know He has, even if it doesn’t look that way from a human perspective. At the end of the day we can say that God is good all the time and we can also say that all the time God is good.

We have a family coffee roasting business and there have been times — for no apparent reason — that our roasters have not worked all three of them. It has been frustrating and we have lost time and gotten behind in orders, but still at the end of the day we have had to say God is good. He has our best interests at heart.

None of us know what 2020 holds, but God does. The best place to be is in the protection and purpose of the Maker of the universe.

Father God we pray for your grace and goodness to shower on us today. We may not recognize it as such, but show us Yourself in all things and circumstances. In Jesus’ loving and powerful Name we pray, Amen!

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