Category Archives: Psalms

Josh. 14, 15; Psalm 146, 147; Jer. 7; Matt. 21

What’s in your jar? Are we putting our greatest energy into relationship with Him?

Let all that I am praise the Lord. Psalm 146:1

In his message on putting first things first, author, educator, and speaker Dr. Stephen Covey spoke of a story shared with students on the importance of prioritizing the things of life, using a demonstration of placing items of varying size into a jar as part of the lesson. The instructor started by placing as many fist-sized rocks in the large jar, then asking the class if the jar was full. Answering yes, the instructor proceeded to fill the jar with smaller-sized gravel until the jar could accept no more, and asked the class again if the jar was full. Again answering yes, the instructor repeated the same process with sand, and then water, and concluded with asking the class what the point of the exercise was. One student boldly answered that “no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit more things into it!” The instructor replied “Not really… the point of the illustration was that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all!” So, too, should our attitude be towards placing God first in our lives, and always, regardless of circumstances!

Yes… we all have areas of life that need tending; home, school, work, friends, church, our spiritual life… All of us have to wrestle with prioritizing an increasing number of tasks and responsibilities, often tending to one responsibility at the expense of others, then play the ‘catch-up’ game. Each of us deals with having only so much energy through a limited number of hours to accomplish whatever tasks that need tending. Unfortunately, there’s never an equal sign between what we need to get done and the energy we have… there’s never enough time or energy.

Did you pick up on it? Take a look at the last paragraph… did you get the sense that each area had the same level of importance? That each demanded the same level of attention? And if we’re not careful, this is what ‘busy’ does… it prevents the “fist-sized rocks”, in the case of Psalm 146, God, from getting placed first, if at all, because there are too many other things to tend to! Due, in part, to our own doing of trying to be all things to all people, and partly a work of the enemy, who does all he can to distract us from the proper order of things… God first!

But, we have it backwards when we let our relationship with God fall to any position other than first. In addition to the simple fact that He deserves the best and first fruits from each of us, He has a way of extending our resources for all the other areas of our lives when we put Him into the #1 position. When we spend time praising Him, we end up with extended patience and joy that transcends high levels of stress. Additionally, honoring Him first offers a dimension of peace that sustains us during the challenging times brought about in the other areas of life.

So, what are the big rocks in your life? Whatever they might be for you, is the first rock you’re putting into your “jar” our Lord and Savior? Making Him our first priority is what we, as Christians, ought to be doing naturally. And when we do, we benefit greatly by being able to handle all of what life throws at us with renewed energy and ability.

Jesus… thank You for the reminder that You deserve to be not only our Rock, but that You deserve to be first. Please help us to offer You our best and to remember that You have earned being first. Help us to trust that when we honor You in that way, You help the rest of life to be more tolerable. Amen!

Greg (gstefanelli)

4 Comments

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

Joshua 11; Psalm 144; Jeremiah 5; Matthew 19

God instructs Joshua to decimate his enemies: hamstring the horses and strike down every breathing enemy–man, woman and child. It’s a blood bath…  the stuff of nightmares. These pages of the Bible leave me with far more questions about God than answers. Where is the God of grace and mercy that I cling to? But who is God if I disregard these pages? I am made in God’s image, not He in mine.

And what would Joshua think of the sanitized bubble that I live in? Perhaps he would be envious; war and violence are realities on television and far from me. Perhaps he would be appalled at my comfortable, complacent living.

David, also a man of war saw the horrors of war first hand and sings this: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues the people under me… I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you, the one who gives victory to kings, who rescues his servant David.” Psalm 144:1,2…9,10.

It’s no wonder that the Jews didn’t understand Jesus. They were looking for a warrior king whose hands were dripping with blood and taking revenge. Instead, comes a king who says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Matthew 19:14  They wanted a kingdom that they could see, a kingdom where they would be in power.

Who is this God we serve? He can wipe nations from the face of the earth and yet calls the youngest and weakest to draw near to him. Are we are in a spiritual war that is just as deadly and God spares us the horrors of seeing all that is going on around us? Paul says as much and repeats the message God spoke to Joshua and the people of Israel: “Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12.

Dear Lord, keep me from being complacent and naive in thinking that what I see is all that is going on. May I be ready and not deceived by the evil one. Heal me from distraction and chasing from false idols so that I may be your woman and follow hard after you. 

Kathy

2 Comments

Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Ephesians, Jeremiah, Joshua, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Psalms, Uncategorized

Joshua 7; Psalm 137-138; Jeremiah 1; Matthew 15

How hard is it to understand the hand of God in my life?  How many times to I misunderstand the elements of my life and miss the message that He has for me?  Doubt is my enemy.  I do not take the time to examine my own life as the source of my struggles and instead, begin to wonder if the Lord has changed His mind or I have misread His directions.  I am no different than Joshua after his defeat at Ai.

Joshua said, “Ah, Lord God! Why have you brought this people across the Jordan at all, to hand us over to the Amorites so as to destroy us? Would that we had been content to settle beyond the Jordan! – Joshua 7:7 NRSV

I remember vividly the first time I heard Boney M sing By the Rivers of Babylon. I was sixteen, in Germany visiting my aunt and uncle, alone and missing my family.  My life up until that moment was used to singing songs to God in the middle of the night and crocodile tears were part of my nights ritual.  How many times I thought that God might have forgotten me.

By the rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.  Psalm 137:1 NRSV

This is why God’s Word is so powerful.  God’s call to Jeremiah became my call to intimacy with Him.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5 NRSV

The Canaanite woman’s expression of faith became my model of perseverance and of hope.

“Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” – Matthew 15:27 NRSV

Lord, I thank you for the power of Your Word in my life and for the hope that You give me in the midst of my own doubt as to Your presence in my life and to the purpose You have called me.  Without You my life would be lost.  Thank you for calling me every day to a new walk with You.  Thank you for Your grace that calls me and renews me each day to serve You.  May I offer to You today my life that You may use me to glorify Your name. Amen.

evanlaar

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Jeremiah, Joshua, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Psalms, Uncategorized

Joshua 5-6:5; Psalms 132-134; Isaiah 65; Matthew 13

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; It grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:31 NLT

I can still remember the tiny pin that my bible study leader was wearing. It had a mustard seed inside it. I didn’t realize how minuscule a mustard seed was until that day. She gifted it to me at a time when I was getting weary of my continual prayer request…week after week, for a house. It  spurred my faith on. So, I kept on asking. God answered. Not in the way I thought, but He provided a house for my family.

I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” Isaiah 65:24 : NLT

Even after I see God answer big prayers in my life, I can become forgetful. Sometimes my prayer life gets stagnate. I know in my head that God is faithful. Yet, I become like the Israelites and turn to other things. The summer bible study that I am doing says, “We often do everything but pray” (Beth Moore, Breaking Free).

The Lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes. All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars.” Isaiah 65:2&3 NLT

Because more than anything, I sacrifice peace when I fail to be in His presence. My belief in God’s promises can start to waiver. Instead of focusing on all of His miracles, I can become prideful and my heart can harden.

Where does he get wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers…Where did he learn all these things? And they were deeply offended and refused to believe him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so he did only a few miracles because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:54-57 NLT

Thank you Father for pursuing me. Forgive me for when I look to other people and things to fulfill me. You are my only true source of peace. I want to be found in you. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Isaiah, Joshua, Matthew, Psalms

Deuteronomy 33,34; Psalm 119:145-176; Isaiah 60; Matthew 8

To the Leper: Without discrimination or hesitation: “Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed,’” (Matthew 8:3). What are my biases, my prejudices? How many times have I withheld my hands from reaching out to strangers, the homeless, those who are needy? Where did I rationalize caution when obedience would have best mirrored Christ?

To the Centurion:  Without hesitation or stipulation: “And Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him,’” (Matthew 8:7). How have routine and self-imposed obligations built a wall of separation from the immediacy outside of my world? How often have I held back from offering a hand and depended on the prompt responses of others to do what I would not?

To King David: Without fear of rejection and with assurance of God’s covenantal love and His just nature, David calls out: “Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness; O Lord, revive me according to Your justice,” (Psalm 119:149). When was the last time that I praised God for His lovingkindness and supported His acts of justice? How often do I seek Him with confidence that He has loving thoughts toward me?

To Moses: Without complaint or argument: “So Moses the servant of the Lord died there…by the mouth of Hashem,” (Deut 34:5, 6). The mouth of Hashem has been interpreted as the Divine Kiss. How is it that I continue to wrestle with the sting of death instead of the joy of my salvation? Do I long to see Christ face to face only to ask about earthly matters?

After a self-examination, I am tempted to sink to the ground in despair. I still know what it feels like to sin. I have heard it said God looks down at me and sees me dipped in the cleansing blood of Christ. However, in my human nature, I do not feel perfect or holy. Yet, I will be perfect in holiness one day – not because I finally get it right or because I have stored up enough good deeds to outweigh the sins that will burn before my eyes (and the Lord’s eyes!). Rather, I will be changed from this woman struggling to fight the good fight into the beloved bride of Christ by the same resurrection power that raised Christ from the dead.

To Me/to all His beloved: “Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you,” (Isaiah 60:1). Without doubt and with a contented sigh, take a deep breath: Deut 33:26, 27 says, “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds. The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms…”

I confess that I need God to be the Divine Warrior who is always ready to be my protector, even though I may start the fight. I need Him to be a place where I can run when my poor decisions or unintentional mistakes cause chaos and distress to chase after me. I need the assurance of God’s strong arm that delivers me with love and with power when I am least able to defend myself. Nothing can compare to the way God shows Himself to His beloved.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

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

3 Comments

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

Deuteronomy 25; Psalms 116; Isaiah 52; Revelation 22

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord; “Please, Lord, save me!” How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth! I believed in you, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, Lord.” In my anxiety I cried out to you, “These people are all liars!” Psalms 116:1-11 NLT

Surfing through my news feed I came across a quote from Max Lucado that said, “Anxiety and Fear are cousins but not twins. Fear sees a threat. Anxiety imagines one.” Underneath he lists some practical steps for overcoming this. The first step is, Pray. If only that was my first instinct when fear or worry comes creeping into my mind. I am reminded in the Psalms that the Lord hears my voice. How comforting it is to know that He never tires of me coming to him. He doesn’t grow weary of my voice, like I sometimes do with my kids . But, more often than not, I don’t cry out to him enough.

Never forget what the Amalekites did to you as you came from Egypt. They attacked you when you were exhausted and weary, and they struck down those who were straggling behind. They had no fear of God. Therefore, when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies in the land he is giving you as a special possession, you must destroy the Amakelites and erase their memory from under heaven. Never forget this!” Deuteronomy 25:17-19 NLT

“Don’t let your thoughts run away on you!” is number 6 on Max Lucado’s list. I know what it is like to let my thoughts spiral downward. I need to be on guard, because Satan knows my weakness. And if I am not on constant watch, I can quickly forget the Lord’s power.

But I will reveal my name to my people, and they will come to know its power. Then at last they will recognize that I am the one who speaks to them. Get out! Get out and leave your captivity, where everything you touch is unclean…You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the Lord will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind” Isaiah 52:10&11NLT

Thank you Father for your faithfulness. That you go before me. And I can look back and remember all the times when I cried out to you and you answered. Help me to live from the victory that I already have in you. I praise you. Amen.

Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of the prophecy written in this book.” Revelation 22:7 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Psalms, Revelation

Deuteronomy 21; Psalm 108, 109; Isaiah 48; Revelation 18

Deuteronomy 21

Life is made up of choices. Making good choices should be everyone’s no. 1 priority. There is a stark contrast between the blessings afforded us by God for obedience of his laws and the curses of disobedience. Ultimately it comes down to us making a choice. Choose a life of obedience and blessings will be afforded to you. Let’s live life to the full in obedience!

Psalm 108

13 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

 My prayers almost always end with requests for help through stressful situations. Prayer requests for help to survive. David didn’t just pray for rescue, but for victory. With God’s help we can claim more than just survival, we can claim victory.

Psalm 109

David was angry at being attacked by evil people slandering him and lied. When this happens to us let us follow David’s example. Remain a friend. Love everyone and hate the evil. Only through Gods strength will we be able to follow David’s example.

4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.

 Isaiah 48

17 This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.18 If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.

 Like a loving parent, God teaches and directs us as we obey his Word. Refusing to pay attention to Gods commands invites punishment and threatens that peace and righteousness.

Revelation 18

11“The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

14“They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ 15 The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn 16 and cry out: “ ‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! 17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’

“Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. 18 When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ 19 They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out:  “ Woe ! Woe to you, great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’

God’s people should not live for money, because money is worthless in eternity. We should guard against greed. God wants us to work and provide for our families, and he commands the right use of money. Don’t be enslaved by the desire for wealth. Don’t let money become a false god.

God Bless

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Revelation, Uncategorized