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2 Samuel 16; 2 Corinthians 9; Ezekiel 23; Psalm 70, 71

I’m not too sure about wisdom coming with age. Sure, I feel I have a few things to say or to offer the ‘younger generation.’ Yet, I’m well aware that they generally like to just figure this all out by themselves. I definitely am not saying that I want others to look up to me as the example of Christian perfection; the days of hubris have long passed. Life experiences for the most part though, have taught me to say, “All is well with my soul,” even in the midst of hell on earth. Still, when I hear myself complaining of indigestion, this aching pain in my left hip, or the increasing wrinkles on my forehead and loose skin on the underside of my arms, I admit that I am being remiss as a servant of God. For how will focusing on me teach others to glorify God? Smooth sailing through calm waters may not lift the eye to seek God, but a mentor captivates with steady faith.

I think King David felt this, too. The “man after God’s own heart,” submitted to the ups and downs of life, the consequences of sin repented. David accepted with faith whatever landed in his lap (even rocks hurled by his enemy). He admonished others by saying, “So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ “It may be that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day,” (2 Samuel 16:10, 12). Can you hear David’s faith in the only One who knew him from his first cry as a babe to his last breath of life?

I, too, am sure of my salvation and of God’s presence in my  life (hence, all is well with my soul), but I long for the day that my puny efforts in serving Him here in this earthen vessel, will be shattered and left in the dirt while I fly to meet my Lord Christ in the sky. Saying this may sound like the proverbial ‘pie in the sky’ way of life. It’s just that I am well aware that I have a duty to obedience while here on earth, even though my heart is set on the joy to come. This wanting to be with Jesus does not allow me to shirk my responsibilities that continue with age. In fact, as one of the ‘older generation,’ I will be held responsible for the tasks God has given me. So being present is the most meaningful way I can touch others for Christ. Without a doubt, I need MORE of Him, and now!

Psalm 71:9, 18 “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails…” “No also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.”

Thank You, Lord Jesus for opportunities of testimony and service yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Let the last wink of my eyelids declare Your glory as I gaze upwards to You. I pray to work alongside You until You come or You take me home. Maranatha! Come, O Lord!

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.”

Janet (jansuwilkinson) All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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2 Samuel 12; 2 Corinthians 5; Ezekiel 19; Psalm 64, 65

Longing for something we don’t have – it seems to be part of the human condition. Sayings like, ” The grass is always greener….” and ” Keeping up with the Jones.” are evidence that we are often not  satisfied with what we have. I sometimes wonder if  life would be easier if we could have blinders on that keep us from seeing what others have.

David found himself it quite a disatrous predicament when his longings for Bathsheba led to a deadly web of deception. God was not pleased at all.

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ 2 Sam. 12: 7-10 NIV

It is quite sobering to read that although David repented of his sin and God continued to bless his life, he did not escape the consequences of his sin.

The tension of longing for our heavenly home and living on Earth in our broken bodies is always here. You can’t escape the news. Our world is full of hurt and brokenness. In our own lives we have pain and heartache. Paul puts it like this:

Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. 2 Cor5:2-5 The Message

That last line is really the key – that longing, that wanting more. It really is our hearts wanting what only God can provide. We can stop looking! Stop trying to fill our lives with other things. Even in our earthly bodies we have a fresh start.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

I want to start living that way everyday.

Lord, thank you for our life in Christ. May we live in such a way that we look forward to our life in heaven while at the very same time, live a life of freedom and fulfillment in You. May we never settle for less.

 

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2 Samuel 11; 2 Corinthians 4; Ezekiel 18; Psalms 62, 63

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Brokenness and adversity came into the world with sin.  I have spent the better part of the past 20 years on a journey with Jesus through brokenness and we are not finished yet.  It has not been an easy road by any means.  We have gone through dark places.  Together.  We have peeled off layers of scar tissue built up over my wounded heart.  Together.  He has never asked me to go into those places of brokenness alone. Sometimes he had to carry me. There were times I could not see him and felt lost and afraid.

I went on a tour of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky when I was a teenager. While we were in the middle, the guide turned off the light.  I put my hand on my nose directly in front of my eyes and could not see my hand.  There was not one ray of light. It was the darkest I had ever experienced. At one point of this journey, that was an analogy of how I felt.  I could not see where I was going.  Luckily, I had hold of Jesus and he knew exactly where we were going.  We have “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”  It guides our way.

This life is hard and just because we are walking with Jesus does not make troubles go away. What happens is HE goes through things with us.  That is how we can say: we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  I had to cling to those words as Jesus carried me through the darkness. They are words he gave me in the midst of my despair to give me hope.  The best decision I ever made was to believe Jesus—not only to believe IN him, but to believe what he said was truth.  There is an end in sight; it is just ahead and I can see it because of his light.  The destination has a name:  freedom!  Each step I take with him gets me closer.

8Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Opening my bible is like walking with a friend. It reminds me of the journey we’ve been on together. As I turn the pages I see notes and dates—reminders of conversations with my Lord.  There are the times I prayed, the times I cried, and the times He took me to exactly what I needed to hear at that precise moment.  There are nuggets of truth, conviction of sin in my life, and words of love spoken to me. It is proof of his love for ME because the words become personal.  No one knows me as he does and he allows me to know him through its pages.  He has shown me what true intimacy looks like.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

 Father I thank you that you take such good care of me. You fill me when I’m empty, encourage me when I’m faltering, and pick me up when I fall.  Your love is better than life.  This journey we have been on is difficult and there are times I wanted to quit. But you pursue me and your love draws me.  Jesus has carried me when I have been weak and I will sing praises to him forever.  It is in His name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Samuel 10; 2 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 17; Psalms 60, 61

Misinterpreted motives lead to war. The Ammonites thought the visit was in deceit. The truth was, David sent his ambassadors in honor and to show honor. (Be careful of who influences thoughts.)

But when David’s ambassadors arrived in the land of Ammon, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, their master, “Do you really think these men are coming here to honor your father? No! David has sent them to spy out the city so they can come in and conquer it!” (2 Samuel 10:2b-3, NLT)

A broken covenant leads to wrath. Israel sought a back-up plan. The truth is that God is the one who makes the way. (He sets paths straight.)

22 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take a branch from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel’s highest mountain. 23 It will become a majestic cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter in the shade of its branches. 24 And all the trees will know that it is I, the Lord, who cuts the tall tree down and makes the short tree grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives the dead tree new life. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said!” (Ezekiel 17:22-24, NLT)

I read through 2 Corinthians 3 several times, and each time cried harder over God’s great love and grace upon my life. He has taken this heart of mine and written upon it.

16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18, NLT)

In my overwhelm, I cry out to you, Lord, and you hear me. You know my heart, and you give me new eyes in light of your word. Oh, that I would always seek you.

O God, listen to my cry!
    Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,
    I cry to you for help
    when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
    for you are my safe refuge,
    a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
    safe beneath the shelter of your wings! Interlude

For you have heard my vows, O God.
    You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name.
Add many years to the life of the king!
    May his years span the generations!
May he reign under God’s protection forever.
    May your unfailing love and faithfulness watch over him.
Then I will sing praises to your name forever
    as I fulfill my vows each day. (Psalm 61, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 8,9; 2 Corinthians 2; Ezekiel 16; Psalms 58,59

My wife and I were watching a sermon on grace a few days ago and halfway through she said, “Isn’t this to simple?”  We dialogued afterwards and realized how glad we were that it was.

Can you imagine Mephibosheth’s reaction to grace?

David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan; I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.” 2 Samuel 9:7 NRSV

Do I want that kind of grace, that kind of kindness – for sure I do – for I clearly am a fallen sinner in need of this kind of God’s grace – one who does not deserve it, could never earn it and would never be able to repay it.

My wife and I were also challenged in how we communicate grace to others – and we named a few people in our lives where that needed to be our focus.

For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. 2 Corinthians 2:4 NRSV

We affirmed that there definitely is a grace that needs to be exhibited in our communication styles for at some point we too have come from a place of joy received from the recovery of grace.

I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord God. Ezekiel 16:62-63 NRSV

Yes, my wife and I had the same trouble most of us have – cannot talk about grace without talking about judgement. We both concluded that the all-important work of atonement was not overlooking sin, but our sin being covered by God’s marvellous grace.

O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.  Psalm 59:17 NRSV

With a bit of study, I found the Aramaic Bible translates that last part of this verse as, “and the God of my grace!” Yes, there my wife and I have found our joy as followers of Christ.

When I think of grace, I think of Your presence.  Wherever we may be found today and in whatever activity we may be engaged in, may we gather there with Your favour.  Lord, by Your favour, we mean favour us with Your grace, and with the love of God the Father, and with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

evanlaar

 

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2 Samuel 6, Psalm 55, Ezekiel 14, 1 Corinthians 16

Our cities, our nation, our world is under attack. It seems winds of natural disasters are blowing from all sides not to mention the day to day turmoil of civil injustice and infighting that is leaving neighbor against neighbor. In just over two weeks our country has been slammed with not one but two devastating hurricanes that left thousands of people homeless overnight. I have been in awe of the powerful mighty hand of God. In seeing his power in the storm itself and remembering that even the winds and the waves obey his commands.

I am sure there are many people in awe of the power of God and many who are left wondering how a loving God could allow this to happen. If the waves and the wind obey his commands, why did God allow these storms to become so destructive.

I am sure David had a few of those thoughts go through his mind a time or two. During a trip to Jerusalem to Bring in the Ark of the Covenant back, there aw a little mishap. As the oxen stumbled, the Ark began to slide. One of David’s men instinctively reached out to catch it. God’s anger burned against Uzzah and he was killed instantly.

And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs[c] and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah[d] to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” 10 So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. 2 Samuel 6:5-10

What’s difficult to comprehend is that Uzzah was just trying to help protect the Ark. But sometimes there is no way to understand the Lord’s why.

Even though David was angry and fearful of God he knew that God was still good. He knew that God loved him and he knew that God was in control. Earlier in David’s life he had been through testing and knew what to do when things didn’t make sense. He turned to the Lord in prayer.

 

16 But I call to God,
and the Lord will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
18 He redeems my soul in safety
from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
19 God will give ear and humble them,
he who is enthroned from of old, Selah
because they do not change
and do not fear God.

22 Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:16-19, 22

 

For those who still remain in the storm today, whether it’s Hurricane Irma or a trial or temptation you are struggling with, may you remember that God is good, God loves you and God is in control. Cast your burdens on Him and he will sustain you!

Dear Lord, thank you for your powerful and mighty right hand that upholds us in our times of deepest need. Be with all the storm victims as they pick up the pieces of their life and try to move on. Holy Spirit, move in the hearts of the hurting people like the winds of a hurricane that they would come to know you as their Lord and Savior. Amen.

kateredding

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2 Samuel 4,5; 1 Corinthians 15; Ezekiel 13, Psalm 52-54

My father-in-law is losing his battle with cancer. His body is rapidly declining. As we gather around him in these his last days, we watch his physical body become weaker and weaker.

What a comfort to read 1 Corinthians 15. Christ is resurrected from the dead. And in time, all of those who believe in Him will be resurrected to live in His kingdom forever.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own time: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” 1 Corinthians 15:20, 22-23

We remind each other that this is not the end for him, a beloved father, grandfather, husband. He will be made alive. He will receive a resurrected body. God will take his weak body and make it into an imperishable, glorious, powerful body.

“So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised I power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. “ 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Dear God, Thank you for providing a way for us to be with you in your perfect kingdom. You sent your Son to die and be raised from the dead. You have told us to expect to be with you in new bodies. We can rejoice that the end of our time on this earth is a transition to new state of being with you. Give strength to our family as we say goodbye. Help our family through the coming sorrow, for we will miss him greatly.  Amen

Diona

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