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Ezekiel 21-23; Hebrews 12; Psalms 111

My children all participated in races as fundraisers for their schools this week.  I have been watching them do this every year since kindergarten, with such determination and persistence.  Reminds me of “running the good race” of our faith as a daily challenge.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, ,looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

When a person puts their trust in Christ, they become a new creation and begin their race in this life.  They begin to learn who He is and why they need Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who practice it have a good understanding.  His praise endures forever!” (Psalms 111:10 ESV)

Lord,

Help us all to run a good race with our focus on You.  We have a long way to go until the finish line when we see You face to face.  Until then, let us endure with persistence.

Amen,

Kellie

 

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Ezekiel 17-20; Hebrews 11

Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. (Hebrews 11:4b, NLT)

Old Testament and New Testament, I read of choice and the repercussions of choice. Choices reveal where faith is rooted.

I read verses of reminders from the Lord, of who he is. He speaks so plainly (fervently, urgently):

30 “Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! 31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? 32 I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live! (Ezekiel 18:30-32, NLT)

Sin is death and always has been.

He is Truth and Love and Life. Forever.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation … 39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. (Hebrews 11:1-2, 39-40, NLT)

I sit with these scriptures today, all the examples of where faith is placed, Old Testament and New Testament. When I examine my heartache and frustrations, will they not also reveal where my faith is placed? Would the pain have been so much if I had seen the Lord’s hand in the circumstances? I can trust him for a better end.

Lord, thank you for not leaving me where I was but wanting life for me–a new heart and spirit. You are a good Father. I’m thankful for your faithfulness. You are trustworthy.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 14-16; Hebrews 10; Psalm 70

It seems like one step, then another, then another and sooner than later I can find myself lost in myself. I actually start believing that I made myself. I actual trust in me. That pride is the root of what destroys me. My forgetfulness to the fact that I was nothing when God found me and that my strength and giftedness was given to me by Him made me trust in the the blessing of God instead of in God HImself.

But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore[d] because of your renown and lavished your whorings[e] on any passerby; your beauty[f] became his. 16 You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be.[g] You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. And you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them. Also my bread that I gave you—I fed you with fine flour and oil and honey—you set before them for a pleasing aroma; and so it was, declares the Lord God. – Ezekiel 16:15-19  ESV

F.B.Meyer spoke of what my proper attitude should be.

“Let us not presume. We have nought of our own. When the temptation tries us to pride ourselves on our goodness; to arrogate to ourselves a special position because of our superiority to others; to assume that we can be independent of our immortal Lover—then let us remember what we were.”

That is why I am called to endure, it is my pivotal call to action when it comes to my walk with God. It is where the genuine difficulty of discipleship shows itself in my life.

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. – Hebrews 10:36 ESV

When I am faithful to serve, when I am faithful to Jesus, when I am faithful to hold on to His promises and when I am faithful to resist sin – I endure.

May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great! – Psalm 70:4  ESV 

AMEN

 

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Ezekiel 10-13; Hebrews 9

“I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile.  I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel again.’ “When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols.  And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them.  I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations.  Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:16-20 NLT

Lord is Sovereign. I am needing this reminder today and every day.

Only He is responsible for a changed heart. Am I letting him change mine?

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against all your magic charms, which you use to ensare my people like birds.  I will tear them from your arms, setting my people free like birds set free from a cage.  I will tear off the magic veils and save my people from your grasp.  They will no longer be your victims.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.  You have discouraged the righteous with your lies, but I didn’t want them to be sad.  And you have encouraged the wicked by promising them life, even though they continue in their sins.  Because of all this, you will no longer talk of seeing visions that you never saw, nor will you make predictions.  For I will rescue my people from your grasp.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 13:20-23 NLT

What am I letting control me? Who am I running to? My mind can be a trap for the enemy.  He knows where I am weak.  But, God is merciful and rescues me every time.  He never gets tired of when I come to him. This song from Cody Carnes comes to mind….”I run to the Father. I fall into grace. I’m done with the hiding. No reason to wait. My heart needs a surgeon. My soul needs a friend. So I’ll run to the Father. Again and again And again And again.”

“For by the power of the eternal spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.  That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them.  For Christ died to set then free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.” Hebrews 9:15&16 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your Holy Spirit. I want to be after your heart.  Give me eyes to see where I need to change.  Amen.

“He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:28 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Ezekiel 7-9; Hebrews 8

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”

Hebrews 8:13 NIV

I love new things….

  • A new journal
  • A new book
  • A new pen
  • A new dress
  • A new pair of shoes
  • A new year

What new things do you like?

The new covenant was put in place with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When I think about His sacrifice I am overwhelmed with gratitude. The old covenant was based on the law and obedience to the law.

As participants of the new covenant, what do we do with the old?

With my love for new things, I want to be able to walk away from the old. And yet… I cannot. I cannot walk away from the guidelines that God has laid down. I cannot forget what has come before the new…and I don’t think that’s what God is talking about in Hebrews.

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

The old covenant set the stage for the new. The old demonstrated our inability to do life on our own. The old pointed us directly to the new and specifically to Jesus. Therefore, we cannot get rid of it. I let it lead me to Jesus. I let it remind me of my dependence on Jesus. I let it remind me that I am no better than anyone else. The old covenant is a reminder of our equality before the Lord and our desperate need of His Grace and Mercy.

We don’t live in the old covenant because it is over…we live in the new. Live in the new, while remembering the work of the old.

How can you let the old point to the new?

Dear Lord, Thank you for new. For a new covenant, new starts, new beginnings, new hope, new life! Lord may the old remind us of the need for the new. May we be reminded of our need for you. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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Jeremiah 37-39; Hebrews 4; Psalm 79

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Heb 4:12-13) NIV

Scripture, the very word of God, is so unlike any other written word. It IS alive and active. It grows with me. It changes me. As the Holy Spirit works in me, the word of God takes on new meaning. At one point, the verses revealed what I was able to understand at that point in time. Years later, as I matured in my walk, the full weight of his words were made known to me. There was truth I had not yet learned, a character of God I had not yet grasped. His word reaches me in the depths of my soul. It pierces through the layers of walls I have built around my heart. God’s truth has revealed when my thoughts have needed to be taken captive and renewed. It has laid bare my deepest shame and offered me freedom through repentance. His word changes my heart of stone into a vessel filled with his love that is then able to pour into others. I learn as much from the Old Testament as I do the New. God’s word has purpose and is always relevant.

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb. 4:16) NIV

I have no reason to fear coming before my God. He is always on his throne. Because of Jesus and his finished work on the cross, I am able to approach him with confidence that he is there and that he cares about me. The veil was torn in two from top to bottom giving me 24/7 access. In him, I find mercy, forgiveness, strength, and grace. He is as close as a thought, a whisper, a tear. He longs for relationship with me and takes delight in me. He is my ever-present help in time of need. He is God of the Universe, but still has time for me.

13 Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will praise you forever;
from generation to generation
we will proclaim your praise. (Ps. 79:13) NIV

My first Christian concert was a Chris Tomlin concert at Towson University. With him were Louie Giglio and Matt Redman. The place was packed. I will never forget how it ended. The final song was, “How Great Is Our God”. I had sung it many times at church and on the radio. But never with this many people. As thousands of people sang, one by one the band members left the stage. There was no instrumentation, only voices filling the hall. The focus was no longer the band but God Himself. We, generations of people who know the voice of our Shepherd, all lifting our voices praising God in unison. I believe I experienced a taste of heaven that night. One day my voice will join with the heavenly beings and the other saints proclaiming God’s glory: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Is. 6:3)

Lord, there are times when your presence has been overpowering. I thank you for the times you have let me glimpse your glory. I find it in the pages of my bible, when we spend time together, and your word penetrates my soul. It teaches me who You are and how I am to live. I would be lost without you. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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Jeremiah 32-34; Hebrews 3; Psalm 74

In the midst of heartache, God’s presence can seem distant. His actions (or apparent lack thereof) can confuse our finite minds.

I marvel that one of the most common “favorite” verses that people share today (Jeremiah 29:11) comes just before incredible destruction for Judah. In this passage in Jeremiah we see him still wrestling a bit with the durability of this promise and God steps in again to confirm its truth.

First, let’s look at the highlight reel from these chapters:

Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.’ (Jeremiah 32:6-7 ESV)

[so, Jeremiah bought it – a seemingly foolish purchase since they were all about to be hauled off into captivity – so Jeremiah has his say with God]

I prayed to the Lord, saying: 17 ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

[really earth-rattling prayer in verses 18-21, if you skipped over it, go back and worship along with Jeremiah. Even in his worry and doubt — he knows how to worship!]

22 And you gave them this land, which you swore to their fathers to give them,  23 And they entered and took possession of it. But they did not obey your voice or walk in your law. . . Therefore you have made all this disaster come upon them. 24  . . . What you spoke has come to pass, and behold, you see it.

25 Yet you, O Lord God, have said to me, “Buy the field for money and get witnesses”—though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans.’” (Jeremiah 32:16-25 ESV – emphasis mine)

27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?

42 “For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them. 43 Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, ‘It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’

[it gets better]

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (Jeremiah 33:3)

in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast, there shall be heard again 11 the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness (Jeremiah 33:10,11)

God tells Jeremiah to buy a basically useless piece of land as an awesome picture of His promises. This land will be restored. God’s Word won’t fail. If you every doubt, come to me, the great I AM, and ask and I’ll bring matchless peace and wonder once again.

Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
    let the poor and needy praise your name. (Psalm 74:21)

Life will have trouble. Life-altering, gut-wrenching, incomprehensible trouble. God is still there, still ruling, still waiting patiently for what He knows is the right timing.

Still worthy of our worship.

Resting in Him is not always easy, but it is always right.

Lord God, thank you for holding us all in Your hands. Protecting us in front and behind and never letting go, never straying from your goodness and your promises. You never fail. ~In Jesus Name Amen.

 

Erin (6intow)

 

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