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Numbers 2; Psalms 36; Ecclesiastes 12; Philemon 1

“I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people. That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. Consider this as a request from me-Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus. I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison…He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.” Philemon 1 NLT

I don’t know what I would do without my brothers and sisters in Christ. Just like Paul was sending Onesimus to Philemon, God has been faithful to put people in my life. A mentor in my path when my world was shaking…friends to do bible study with and dig deeper into God’s word. I pray that I can be that for others. I pray that my kids would have deep friendships and mentors to encourage them in their faith. There is nothing that brings more joy to my heart than to watch my twelve year old daughter worship God. She sits in the front row at church raising her hands in surrender, not concerned about how she might look to others. It took me all of my 41 years to reach that point. But, I am thankful that God is still working on me.

“Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky…Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken.” Ecclesiastes 12:1&2;6 NLT

Thank you Father that it is never too late to turn back to you. You have good plans for my life. Help me not to look back in regret, but forward in hope. I love you. Amen.

“Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.” Psalms 36:5-7 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Numbers 1, Psalm 35, Ecclesiastes 11, Titus 3

“I don’t believe in heaven and hell. I don’t know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this life – the only thing I know to exist – to be wasted.” (Celebrity quote)

Although there have always been naysayers and critics of God’s true word, I feel like we are living in a culture that is more self dependent and selfish than other times in history. The days of common moral values are gone and people are out to get everything they can. It’s truly a dog eat dog world and why not? Aren’t we all entitled to the American Dream?

Slogans are so common you could finish these off without me typing the words. Slogans such as “Live everyday like it was your last” or “Create your own happiness”. We are conditioned to believe that we are responsible for our happiness and our own good fortune and outcomes.  We are quick to take credit for our own accomplishments and good works but can just as quickly turn around and blame God when “bad things” happen.

Even in Solomon’s day he knew there was a balance between good works, enjoying life and being accountable for one’s own actions. We are called to live each day to the fullest but who are we living it for is the real question that differentiates good works for the kingdom of God rather than for selfish and prideful gain. Solomon’s wise words also come with a warning:

So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.[b]

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

10 Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain[c] from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity. Ecclesiastes 11:8-10

Yes it is important that we live each day to the fullest but it is only by the grace showed to us by Christ and the washing of our sin with his blood that any “good” work is seen by God as righteous.

 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  Titus 3:3-7

The irony in the celebrity’s quote above is that the very thing he is trying to avoid (wasting life) is exactly what he is doing by living for himself and his own glory. Without Christ, everything is meaningless. May our enjoyment and blessing of each new day be evident in the our good works, done not for self pleasure or advancement in to heaven but in gratitude to our Savior who gave his all for our sin!

Dear Jesus, than you for your blood that washes over my sin. Thank you for dying in my place so that when the Father looks at me he see’s your righteousness. Holy Spirit, help me to live each day joyfully devoted to good works that bring you glory. Amen!

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Leviticus 27; Psalm 34; Ecclesiastes 10; Titus 2

This weekend I’ll be attending a huge convention (8 hours away!) to hear encouragement and to get instruction in my current calling.  I am a mom of four and homeschooling two of them.  I will be traveling with a woman who has more experience than I in mothering and homeschooling – a just slightly older woman.

I have been blessed by many older women in my walk with Jesus.  Both women who are a generation older and women who are just a few years older.  All of them sent by God to instruct, to encourage, to gently correct.  All of them loving me in their own unique

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”  Titus 2:12 (NIV)

By age I am no longer a young woman, yet I am not an old woman.  I still in many ways identify with the young woman described in Titus.  Maybe because I am still raising my children.  I can certainly improve in the areas identified for the younger women.

I also hope to one day be the older woman.  The woman who will be a blessing from God to younger women.  The woman who takes a younger woman by the hand and says:

“Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.”  Psalm 34:3 (NIV)

All of these things made possible only by and through the grace of God.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”  Titus 2:12 (NIV)

My bible notes that the word translated “teaches” in this verse refers to more than instruction.  It includes the whole process of training a child – instruction, encouragement, correction and discipline.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for teaching me how to be a godly woman.  Thank you for the people and experiences that you have given me to instruct, encourage, correct and discipline me.  Thank you for older women who have helped me.  At the right time, place younger women in my path who I can help to train in your ways.  Amen 

Diona

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Leviticus 26; Psalm 33; Ecclesiastes 9; Titus 1

Having just celebrated Easter, it’s easier to be focused on praising God.  I walked through the events that led up to Good Friday with my children, helping them understand once again how incredibly “good” that Friday was.  Jesus paid our debt!

Reading through Psalm 33, a hymn of praise, helps me continue this focus on praising Him for what He did for us, what He did for ME.

Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; Praise is

    Becoming to the upright.  Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;

    Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.  Sing to Him a

    New song; play skillfully with a shout of joy.” (v. 1-3 NASB)

He created everything and the earth proclaims it.

“By the word of the Lord the Heavens were made, and by the

    Breath of His mouth all their host.  He gathers the waters of the

    Sea together as a heap; He lays the deeps in the storehouses.

    Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all inhabitants of the world

    Stand in awe of Him.  For He spoke and it was done; He

    Commanded it and it stood fast.” (v. 6-9)

He is our hope when the world seems hopeless.

“Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.

    For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy

    Name.  Let your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,

    According as we have hoped in You.” (v. 20-22)

Lord,

We praise You because You paid our debt that we owed for being sinners.  Truly we can say that Friday was a “good” day for us.  Easter is our wonderful surprise when you rose from the grave to prove You reign over death and that we who believe have the hope of life for all eternity.  Let us always praise You for what You did for us no matter what date is on the calendar.

Kellie

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Leviticus 25; Psalm 32; Ecclesiastes 8; 2 Timothy 4

Leviticus 25

In April 2015 my wife and 11 month old daughter and I left our “home” in South Africa and moved permanently to the United States. On the eve of this 2 year anniversary I look back at what has been an enormous undertaking, with many a tear but also many a wonderful story to tell. It still feels rather lonely without family and familiar friends sometimes but I am reminded as I read in Leviticus we can always rely on the Lord for strength and He will keep us safe

18 “ Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety.”

Psalm 32

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

What is confession? To confess our sin is to agree with God, acknowledging that He is right to declare what we have done as sinful, and that we are wrong to desire or to do it. It means affirming our intention of abandoning that sin in order to follow God more faithfully.

Ecclesiastes 8

Solomon recalls the remedy for life’s unanswered questions. He recommends joy and contentment as encouragement for us along life’s journey. We must accept each day with its daily measure of work and of course pleasure. Let us learn to enjoy what God has given us to refresh and strengthen us to continue His work.

15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

2 Timothy 4

2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Always be ready to serve God in any situation, whether or not it is convenient. Be sensitive to the opportunities God gives you. It is difficult to accept correction, to be told we have to change. But no matter how much the truth hurts, we must be willing to listen to it so we can more fully obey God.

God Bless

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Leviticus 24; Psalm 31; Ecclesiastes 7; 2 Timothy 3

It was a day of errands and driving, and a true blessing to spend time with a woman who has long been a mentor to me. We talked about the real meaty things of life, right to the point. She is honest and wise. I’ve known her over half my life and it’s not long enough–I find as we’re both getting older and my own seasons are changing, there is still so much to learn.

10 But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. 11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. 12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. 2 Timothy 3:10-13, NLT (emphasis mine)

I think about examples–especially in regards to parenting and mentoring. One friend nearly despised his father for the type of husband/father he was–and yet, later in life, became just as harsh and hurtful as his dad. I feel certain he never wanted to become that way, but how did it happen?

My mentor and I talked about relationships and truth and integrity. We talked about perseverance. We touched on legacy, and I considered hers as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She is a model of a life lived in love. I thank God for her influence.

When someone sifts through the pieces of life I’ll one day leave behind, what will my story tell? Because my life will tell a story. Will it show Jesus? Will it be defined by love?

I cling tightly to God’s enduring Word.

14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17, NLT

Lord, I thank you for dear friends like family who have helped me and encouraged me, for women who’ve taught me how to love and serve by example. Thank you for your Word that is true and convicts and corrects. Thank you that you love me so much to equip me to do good work. Help me to remain faithful to the things you have taught me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 23; Psalm 30; Ecclesiastes 6; 2 Timothy 2

Holidays interrupt the ordinary activities of my life and give me an opportunity to revitalize my commitment to God or holidays can draw my spirit into contemplating my recurrent need to depend on God. Such interruptions can lead to restoration and hope of blessings. Leviticus 23 lists the times of many God-ordained holidays, reminders of God’s deliverance, provision, forgiveness, and mercy. His presence is the gift in the midst of community, and the same is true during Christian holidays. I didn’t know how much I missed community until this past Easter. I have felt like a nomad these last 10 years, moving from state to state, changing jobs, changing churches, leaving the bones of loved ones in strange lands.

Ecclesiastes 6:2, written by my soulmate, Solomon, says, “A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it…this is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.” Solomon contrasts this scenario with his earlier statement that every man to whom God prospers and gives the divine gift of enjoyment receives blessings, indeed. Holidays have a way of slowing down my soul’s race to acquire the object and turning my eyes toward the Giver of my soul’s redeemed desires.

Interruptions in my work week can illuminate the threads of discontent or the tears in the fabricated beliefs I’ve entertained. The simplicity of following Christ needs no interpretation – if I am faithless, Christ remains faithful; he cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). I am therefore unafraid of the future, and I am free to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.”

So Lord Jesus Christ, resurrected Savior and lover of my soul, I am pleased to be interrupted with holy days that urge me to focus on You. Like King David, I can praise (Psalm 30:11, 12).

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my        sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise            to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

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