Category Archives: Psalms

Hosea 9-12; Romans 7; Psalm 73

Wow – where did this dark reading come from? Three selections of scripture that paint a pretty dark picture of life. It starts with punishment and it leaves me thinking I am a fool or at least mad for following Jesus.

The days of punishment have come;
    the days of recompense have come;
    Israel shall know it.
The prophet is a fool;
    the man of the spirit is mad,
because of your great iniquity
    and great hatred. – Hosea 9:7  ESV

Even if I am alone, it is my task to speak the kingdom of God to deaf ears. In doing so I know there will be those who think I am strange and startling.

And yet, how true am I really? I end up not doing what is right, but rather wrong. I am amazed how my true self is revealed in Romans chapter seven. I am nothing really. Look how the chapter ends:

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. – Romans 7:25  ESV

How I wish I could have read Romans chapter eight this morning. Then maybe I could have shared some good news.

The Psalms, true to their nature, did not help, well not exactly. Psalm seventy-three starts rough. There is a full attack on naive faith. The world has declared that God is not King, His will does not rule and that He is irrelevant at best.

But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. – Psalm 73:2-3  ESV
What do I tell people who ask me if it is useless to serve God with a clean heart. What if they ask me what is the point of “being on God’s side?”
I thank the Lord that the end of Psalm seventy-three offers a turning point. There is something special about being in the presence of God, of belonging to Him. How did I perceive this truth? Worship has a way of confronting the false claims. Worship has a way of pulling the veneer off the face of evil. Worship refocuses my eyes so that I can see “the rest of the story.” I end up confessing clearly the ground rules for renewed faith.
But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end. – Psalm 73: 16-17  ESV
I see that once again I experienced very narrow tunnel vision. Need to experience my eyes seeing more and my ears hearing more. Worship helps.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works. – Psalm 73:28  ESV
Father, thank you for worship. Thank you Holy Spirit for drawing me into who Jesus is. May my dark days, turn to dark moments and may they be shorter and shorter as I enter Your presence and spend more time with You. Amen.
Erwin (evanlaar1922)
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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Hosea, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Romans, Uncategorized

Isaiah 4-5; Romans 2; Psalm 115-116

Psalm 116 NIV

1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.

2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow.

4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “LORD, save me!”

5 The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

6 The LORD protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.

7 Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.

8 For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,

9 that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

10 I trusted in the LORD when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”;

11 in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.

14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.

15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.

16 Truly I am your servant, LORD; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.

17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.

18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,

19 in the courts of the house of the LORD– in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.

 

Oh, the love of Jehovah.

He heard me. He paid attention to me. He was moved by my plea.

He stretched himself to reach me.

How can I do anything else with my life but tell of His love, His power, His deliverance – for His glory?

I was dying. I was dead.

I was overcome by sin, and powerless to free myself.

I was physically and emotionally broken.

But then I called out to God. I begged Him to rescue me, to save my life, and to save my soul.

And He did.

Because He is full of mercy and love. He is compassionate and gracious.

He is good, even though I am not.

He rescued me, and He keeps on rescuing me.

He teaches me and grows my understanding of Him, of me, and of the world around me.

Now I can rest in Him.

Now I need not work and labor and be overcome by life.

Now I need not give in to worry and anxiety about the future or the past.

Because He has been good to me. And He continues to be good to me.

He was good when He delivered my soul from death.

He is good when He delivers me from my fears and sorrows.

He is good when He keeps my feet secure and holds me up when I begin to fall.

And so I can walk freely and confidently as a testimony of His goodness and grace.

I trust in Him, so I can speak with confidence before Him.

I can express myself to Him when I’m fearful, overwhelmed, and discouraged.

I can express myself when it feels like the world is against me.

And He will rescue me again like He has done before.

How can I ever repay such love and kindness?

I will tell of His love and share His mercy with those around me.

I will live to reflect His grace and power.

I will worship Him both in word and deed.

I will show my love by my life surrendered to His glory and will.

May I never grow tired of sharing how God has delivered me from death.

May I never grow tired of sharing with others how they, too, can find life.

May I rest in the confidence that I have been a faithful servant.

May gratitude never leave my heart or my mouth.

May I glorify the Lord as long as I live.

 

Father, thank you for rescuing me. Let me never forget it or take it for granted. Help me to find confidence to share your rescuing love with those around me. Help me to live for your honor and glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

 

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Song of Solomon 1-3; Psalm 94; Matthew 18

I’ve spent the last few weekends going through boxes in my basement. I have run across pictures I had forgotten, relived memories of special occasions, and gotten to see the faces of loved ones who have passed away—my mom, dad, brother, grandparents. In one corner of the basement are all the boxes I brought from my mother’s house after she died. They have been untouched for five years. One box, in particular, contained an old brown picture album with the black pages where the pictures were neatly held in place at the corners. As I went through the pictures, I wish so much my mother was there. She would have remembered who everyone was. She would have reminded me of the details of stories I thought I’d never forget—yet I have. I wanted to ask her so many questions. I wish I had written names on the back of pictures or written down the stories of our relatives and their lives. There was so much wisdom that was shared by generations but forgotten over time.

Reading through the parables in Matthew 18, I thought of Jesus and how important it was for him to share the words his father gave him for us. How blessed we are to have them written down so we won’t forget! I can imagine a sense of urgency each day that he was here knowing it was only a short amount of time before he would be gone from the disciples. As he taught them, they listened to the stories, and, unlike me with all the stories my mom shared, they remembered them. I’ve read these stories many times over the years but they have changed. They have become personal. It’s almost as if, in my mind’s eye, I can see Jesus looking past the people he’s with and looking directly at me as he speaks. I feel like he really wants me to get it!

In this chapter, there were some harsh words of warning against causing another to sin:

6“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

His teaching on the lost sheep reminded me of my own story and how I was once that lost sheep he came and rescued. 14“In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” Thank you, Jesus, for coming after me!

He gives us a story on forgiveness and how important it is—especially considering how much we’ve been forgiven!  22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Psalm 94 reminds me that I am blessed to have the Lord’s teaching, even if it comes in the form of discipline. His words are meant to protect me.

12 Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
the one you teach from your law;
13 you grant them relief from days of trouble,
till a pit is dug for the wicked.

I am so thankful that God has not left me here without any kind of direction. I have his Word and his Spirit to guide me. I love to imagine myself sitting on the ground, legs crisscrossed, at the feet of Jesus listening intently as he teaches about the goodness of his Father. He tells me of his great love for me—ME—that lost sheep who had almost given up. Who is such a sinner. Yet he tells me I’m forgiven, and because of that, I’m to forgive others.

Heavenly Father, your love continually amazes me. The depth of love you have for us is shown through Jesus. I pray I will always sit at his feet and listen to his stories—stories of you. In His name I pray.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Proverbs 29-30; Psalms 60 & 33; Matthew 13

“His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to people?” He replied , “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven, but others are not.  To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have abundance of knowledge.  But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.  That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see.  They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.” Matthew 13:10-13 NLT

I pray for the Holy Spirit to give me insight and wisdom when reading God’s word.  I find that especially in this, He meets me where I am.  He prods me to dig deeper.  I have learned that the more I read of it, the more hungry I am for it.  The more understanding I have.  But, it is not for knowledge alone.  Am I being changed? Is my heart in the right place?  Am I fearful or discouraged? Those are usually red flags for me that I haven’t picked up my bible in too long.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.  I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it.”  Matthew 13:16 NLT

Once I get into his word, my eyes are opened. And I wonder what took me so long.  Why was I scrolling through Instagram or filling my mind with other things? Distraction after distraction. And I wonder why I am weary and tired.  He is always ready and waiting for me to turn to Him.  “But if the source of our satisfaction is anything other than God’s word, a relationship with Jesus, and the power and friendship of the Holy Spirit, our souls will suffer.  What we are truly thirsting for is God.  He is our source of living water.  Nothing else will be able to weep into every part of us. Nothing else will be able to refresh, restore and transform us.  Nothing else will ever truly satisfy our soul.” Lysa Terkeurst

“For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.  But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.  We put our hope in the Lord.  He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  Let your unfailing love surround us Lord, for our hope is in you alone.” Psalms 33:4, 18-22 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your word.  Thank you that it is truth. I pray for a deeper love for your word. Amen.

“With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes.” Psalms 60:12 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

 

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2 Chronicles 6-7; Matthew 3; Psalms 98-99

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.  For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy-a place where my name will be honored forever.  I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.” 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 NLT

I am seeing this verse in a new way.  The extravagant temple that Solomon built is a parallel to my body, His temple.  Am I surrendering it to Him?

He has set me apart.

He has made me holy.

He is watching over me.

He hears my prayers.

I am dear to his heart.

They cried to the Lord for help, and he answered them.  He spoke to Israel from the pillar of cloud, and they followed the laws and decrees he gave them.  O Lord our God, you answered them.  You were a forgiving God to them, but you punished them when they went wrong.  Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain in Jerusalem, for the Lord our God is holy!” Psalms 99:6-9 NLT

God spoke to Israel in the pillar of a cloud.  There have been times when I have wondered why he isn’t  speaking to me in ways that he is to someone else.  I was recently asked to paint during the worship service at my church.  This was a huge step of faith for me and a fear I had to overcome.  One of my biggest stumbling blocks was that I didn’t know what to paint.  I prayed for God to reveal an image to me.  When he seemed to be silent, the doubt would creep in.  I was frustrated when I would hear other artists tell of images that God gave them. But, he did answer me, it was just in a different way that I was expecting. He showed me that it wasn’t as much about what I was painting, as it was surrendering to him and breaking the bondage of old ways of thinking. He spoke through my pastor and his word.  He provided in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.  I could feel his peace and presence like never before.

“Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power! The Lord has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!  He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel.  The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” Psalms 98:1-3 NLT

Thank you Father that in you I have the victory.   That you hear me.  And you answer me.  I praise you for who you are. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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1 Kings 3; 2 Chronicles 1; 2 Corinthians 12; Psalm 78

Today’s readings reminded me of how present God is in our lives and how he hears our prayers. We can cry out to him when we need direction and we need healing. We may not get the answer we want but we can trust in his goodness. It starts with Solomon:

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:5-9) NIV

Solomon offers sacrifices to the Lord, and cries out to him for direction on how to be king and lead the people of Israel. God answers his prayer and gives him the gift of wisdom to rule wisely.

Paul cries out when he has been afflicted:

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7b-10) NIV

Paul’s prayer was not answered as he had prayed. God did not remove the “thorn”. God’s answer made Paul realize that he would be a better representative of Christ for any suffering he might endure. Paul endured much hardship, persecution and difficulty that can only be accounted to the very presence of God with him.

That same God is with me every day. Psalm 78 reminds me how quickly I can forget his presence and all he has done in my life. It is a reminder of the story of the Israelites and how God was with them from the beginning. I have my own story of parting seas, manna in the wilderness, and Promised Land victories over my enemies. When I feel weak, I pull out my journals and reread the story of God working in my life. He’s held me when I cried and reprimanded me when I needed correction. There are prayers he didn’t answer that now, looking back, were a blessing. Then, there are the prayers that were answered in ways I didn’t expect that far surpassed my imagination. Through it all I know I am dearly loved and never alone.

Lord, your presence is everything and I am so thankful that you call me your child. Sometimes I get caught up in my circumstances and take my eyes off Jesus. That is when I start to sink. But you quickly reach out and catch me. I am so grateful you are ever-present, as close as a whispered prayer, and always have my best interest at heart. I know I’ve not always followed through and had to go around the same mountain a time or two, but you’ve patiently allowed me to see your way is far better. You are the solid rock beneath my feet. I love you more each day. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21; 2 Corinthians 8; Psalm 3

I am still learning principles that are laying foundations in my life as a disciple of Jesus. One of those lessons has been in the area of giving. It was a difficult process and in some elements, even today, there are areas that I find challenging..

 But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels[g] of silver. – 2 Samuel 24:24  ESV

A key thought – if my offering to the Lord does not cost me anything, then it is not much of an offering. As a disciple of Christ, I am called to take up my cross and follow hard after Him.

I know there are moments when we want to count what we have as opposed to how much we are giving. Satan messed up David in this matter.

Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. – 1 Chronicles 21:1  ESV

So Paul has these strong words, in the form of a testimony, for me that have challenged me when I have gone astray in my own thinking, especially when I was beginning to hoard.

We want you to know, brothers,[a] about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia,  for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. – 2 Corinthians 8:1-2  ESV

When I find myself stressed by circumstances, bills or pressures, it is in God’s Word where I find the lessons of giving. At the end of the day, this principle has always sustained me — 

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! – Psalm 3:8

Father, continue to allow me to be a blessing on Your people, keep the joy of Your salvation in my heart, and give me a testimony of giving that will encourage and strengthen others to do the same. I still need this to cost me. May I not be tempted to step aside. Thank you for walking with me through my journey of giving. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 2 Corinthians, 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized