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Josh. 1; Ps.120-122; Isa. 61; Matt. 9

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

What is your favorite? Favorite ice cream…TV show…friend…family member…season? My favorite pictures to take are of old barns. The history is beautiful and taking pictures of them makes my mind fly with thoughts of those who used to look out the windows.

The other night, I was sitting with my family and we got to talking about our favorite Bible verses. It feels weird to say that I have favorite verses, but I do. I also have favorite stories. The older I get the more I love the stories of Jesus interacting with women.

“Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment.”

Matthew‬ ‭9:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jesus was in high demand. Word had gotten out that He was powerful and able to even raise people from the dead. Massive crowds flocked to hear Him speak. He was drawing the attention of those in power. And in all of that He was aware of one suffering woman. a woman who hadn’t been seen in 12 years because she was considered unclean.

Have you ever felt unseen? Have you ever struggled with something that has isolated you? Have you ever wondered if you mattered? I have. May this story of one woman’s encounter with Jesus remind you that God sees you. Not only does He see you, He knows you, loves you and desires to heal you and forgive you.

Dear God, wow! What a gift we have in the Bible. To see how Jesus loved and walked with every day people gives us a glimpse of how You are walking with us. God may we sense your turning towards us. For anyone who feels unseen may your Spirit fill them with love. May we not hoard your “seen-ness” but allow it to give us eyes to see those around us. Amen.

Mandy

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Deuteronomy 31; Psalm 119:97-120; Isaiah 58; Matthew 6

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 ESV)
This is my favorite Bible verse. It reminds me to keep my focus on God’s word because it is what He uses to direct and instruct me. The psalm continues
“I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.” (Psalm 119:106 ESV)
I really like this verse as well, it reminds me of the commitment that I have made to God to keep his commandments. The passage of Matthew also has some good reminders.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19‭-‬21 ESV)
I need to be careful not to become too attached to worldly and physical possessions and instead focus on storing up treasures in heaven. This passage also warns me against storing up too much treasure on earth because if my treasure is worldly my heart will also be focused on the world.
Dear God, thank you for everything that you have blessed me with. Please help me to focus on you and your word, which is my guide. Please help me to store up treasures in heaven, rather than on earth. In Jesus’s holy name I pray. Amen.
Asher (AsherB)

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Deuteronomy 29; Psalm 119:49-72; Isaiah 56; Matthew 4

Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God…  You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today. Deuteronomy 29:9-15 NIV


You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words
I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.  Psalm 119:57-59 NIV

A vow is binding.  This is serious.  Give me focus to understand the gravity of my ‘yes.’  How much joy You have Lord when I can give me all in search of Your love,  Is there any part of my heart that resists? 


…all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—  these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer…for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:6-7 NIV

All are welcome to this house of prayer.  Who will accept the invitation? 

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Matthew 4:1-11 

Before going into public ministry, the gauntlet was laid.  The lies were strong and convincing using Your Word in temptation. Prepare my heart as in times of uncertainty, the harvest is abundant right now.

Take my heart and form it to Yours. Take me to another place in my call to evangelization.  Expose the lies and hold me close in Your love.  Take my mind, transform it.  Take my will conform it to Yours to Yours O Lord. May it be done to me according to thy Word.

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Deuteronomy 27-28:19; Psalm 119:1-24; Isaiah 54; Matthew 2

God’s word lays out a pretty clear path for us to follow. What we should do, what we shouldn’t do, and the consequences that we can expect.

Many people’s understanding of scripture stops there – a list of “dos and don’ts.” A little digging proves this to be a very superficial interpretation of God’s directives.

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. (Deut 28:2 ESV)

Of course, some people are just chasing the prosperity gospel, and others are looking for a reason to discredit or marginalize the Bible’s message.

While Deuteronomy might contain a number of the rules and the accompanying consequences and blessings that ancient Israel received to set them apart from other nations, the rest of the Bible shows us the deeper function of the law.

Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
    who seek him with their whole heart,

You have commanded your precepts
    to be kept diligently.

I will keep your statutes;
    do not utterly forsake me!

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you. (from Psalm 119:1-11 ESV)

We are not on our own in following scripture. God’s word will shine the light on the best path and keep our way pure. Through meditation, delighting in his word, remembering it, longing for God and time with Him, then our steps become more sure. He walks this path with us.

but with great compassion I will gather you. (Isaiah 54:7b)

but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord, your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:8)

God knows that the law is beyond our reach as sinful humans. That’s the whole point. We can’t do it on our own. He doesn’t expect us to, and He made a way.

The precious and awesome miracle baby born in Bethlehem as written about in Matthew 2, showed us a better way that would be paid for with His own blood.

Father God, thank you for making clear how we should live and love. Help me not to build and altar and go on my way, but keep bringing me back to your word, your example, your commands. Thank you for your sacrifice that was enough when I could never be. Thank you for your compassion and love and may it overflow through my life to those around me. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Deut. 24; Ps.114,115; Isa. 51; Rev. 21

Over the past three years, life for my husband’s family has been rough. From unexpected deaths to tragic car accidents and everything in between, it has been a roller coaster. We have walked through very quick boughts of cancer where we fought hard and lost. Most recently, another cancer diagnosis on top of another family member’s serious motorcycle accident, has left us spending many days and nights in shock trauma and several other hospitals. Job loss, military deployment and simply day to day life has been difficult. After decades of seemingly wonderful blessings of good health and protection, the walls have come crashing down.

Just a few minutes ago I arrived home after taking the children to visit their 82-year-old great grandmother in the hospital. Her time left on earth is coming to a close and we were saying our goodbyes and praying for the Lord’s peace and comfort.

Life. Is. Hard.

We all go through seasons in our lives that take us up and down. Whether your experience was car accidents and failing health or something else, I’m sure you have suffered at some point in your life. But the Lord reminds us that he is always near. He always has been and always will be. Our sufferings and hardships draw us closer to him.

During the hardships while Israel was in captivity, they needed reminders of Gods’ power and his faithfulness. They needed to be reminded of all the trials the Lord had brought them through. We need the same reminders today.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.
Look to Abraham your father
and to Sarah who bore you;
for he was but one when I called him,
that I might bless him and multiply him.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;
but my salvation will be forever,
and my righteousness will never be dismayed.

“Listen to me, you who know righteousness,
the people in whose heart is my law;
fear not the reproach of man,
nor be dismayed at their revilings.
For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
and the worm will eat them like wool,
but my righteousness will be forever,
and my salvation to all generations.”  Isaiah 51

Life won’t necessarily get easier but through our hardships we can draw closer to the Lord and rely on him and most of all remember that his promises will come true because of his proven faithfulness over time. There are times when all I can do is cling to the last part of verse 8, “my righteousness will be forever and my salvation to all generations.”

Gram has been a very special lady in the lives of everyone she knew and even those she didn’t. She loved Jesus and his Church and cared for anyone and everyone around her. She was a hard worker, creative, fun-loving, deeply committed to her family and “Gram” to all. Though our hearts will mourn over our loss, we will rejoice in her healing and full restoration to health when she passes into the arms of Jesus.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21

Thank you, Lord for the time you give us to love one another and live these few moments on Earth with ones that we love. Lord Jesus, be near to the broken-hearted. Holy Spirit, bring peace and comfort to those suffering today and remind them of your faithfulness.

Kate (Kateredding)

From the archives. Originally published June 19, 2017.

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