Joshua 23; Acts 3; Jeremiah 12; Matthew 26

My attitude toward God is often one of asking him to do something for me, or to do something for someone else. Indeed, God wants us to pray for ourselves and others. He wants us to make the desires of our hearts known to him.

And yet there are times when I fail to act when God asks something of me. Now, it is true that it is not always easy to know when God is asking something of me. Is it God speaking? Is it a trap set by Satan to tempt me away from God’s true intention? Is this my own selfish desires? But sometimes I analyze too much and act too little.

Other times, what He is asking takes effort. To be honest, the effort is more than I am willing to give. Oh, how that hurts to realize its truth.

In Gethsemane, Jesus asks Peter, James and John to do something. He asks them to pray. Jesus is clear in his request. However, to pray they must stay awake. They fail.

“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’” Matthew 26:36-37

“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’” Matthew 26:40-41

Jesus goes away to pray and comes back to find them again sleeping.

Peter, James and John loved Jesus. Why could they not do what Jesus asked of them? I do not know.

Dear Lord, I love you and want to please you. When you ask something of me, I want to be willing to act. I am weak. My spirit is willing but my body is weak. I need you to overcome my weakness. You are able. Thank you for going through the agony of Gethsemane and paying the price for my salvation. Amen.    

Diona

 

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Joshua 22; Jeremiah 11; Matthew 25; Acts 2

As a Sunday School teacher and a kindergarten teacher at a Christian school, I’m often telling the kids that Jesus said “If you love Me, you’ll keep My commands” (John 14:15).  It’s that simple.

In Joshua’s farewell message to the tribes he states,

    “…love the Lord your God and walk in all His ways and keep His

    Commandments and hold fast to Him with all your heart and

    With all your soul.” (Joshua 22:5 NASB)

Later Jeremiah warns the people to be faithful to their covenant with God. “…listen to My voice and do according to all which I commanded

    you; so you shall be My people and I will be your God.”

    (Jeremiah 11:4)

Then in Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, Peter mentions the signs that we’ll see in the last days as prophesized by Joel.

“And it shall be in the last days, God says, that I will pour forth

    Of my Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters

    Shall prophesy; And your young men shall see visions, and your

    Old men shall dream dreams; Even on my bondslaves, both men

    And women, I will in those days pour forth of my Spirit, and they

    Shall prophesy; And I will grant wonders in the sky above and

    Signs on the earth below, blood and fire and vapor and smoke.

    The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood,

    Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.  And it

    Shall be that everyone that calls on the name of the Lord shall

    Be saved” (Acts 2:17-21).

So until Jesus either calls us Home or comes back for us, we need to be vigilant like the ten virgins because we don’t know when that day is coming.

    “But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold the bridegroom!’

    Come out to meet Him.  Then all the virgins rose and trimmed

    their lamps.  The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of

    your oil for our lamps are going out.’  But the prudent answered

    ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to

    the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’  And while they were

    going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and

    those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding feast

    and the door was shut.” (Matthew 25:6-10).

May we always show we love You by obeying your commands.

May we live in expectation and preparedness for Your return.

Kellie (gueston66books)

 

Kellie

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Joshua 20, 21; Acts 1; Jeremiah 10; Matthew 24

Joshua 20

They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”

Ever needed a do-over? Or refuge from a really bad unintentional mistake? God gave the Israelite’s such a physical space. There were actual cities where you could go known as “refuge cities” and you were protected by the Levites there. We might not have physical places set aside for us for “refuge” but we do have the awesome knowledge that God our father is our refuge and strength in testing times.

Joshua 21

43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

God proved faithful in fulfilling every promise he had given to Israel. Fulfillment of some took several years but “every one was fulfilled”. Gods promises will be fulfilled according to his timetable, not ours, but we know that his word is sure!

Acts 1

After 40 days with the disciples Jesus was taken up to heaven boldly and visibly. Jesus will return boldly and visibly! Lets not be caught standing around “looking into the sky”, but working hard to share the gospel so that others will be able to share in God’s great blessing.

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Jeremiah 10

This is what the Lord says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them. For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
Have you ever been to one of those “fortune tellers”. You know those parked in a trailer along the side of the road or hidden between our houses proclaiming to be able tell your future? Can’t say I’ve ever been but always have wanted to hear which generic answer my future holds 😉
The people of Judah also wanted to know there future too. Jeremiah’s response  applies to us today. God made the heavens and the earth including the stars which people consult and worship. Only God knows our future and has promised to guide us and be with us every step of the way. I’d rather trust the God who created the stars than the stars themselves….
Matthew 24
OK, so you still want to know your future after reading the above? Well go ahead and read Matthew 24 several times. Tough to pick out any part as a discussion because this is our future. Every word and every promise and every action is what will happen no question. The truth of the future is scary but also reassuring for those who endure.
God bless

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Joshua 18,19; Psalms 149,150; Jeremiah 9; Matthew 23

A land promised and parceled. Psalms of praise! Praise! Clanging words like cymbals. Praise.

Eyes, a fountain of tears. Uncircumcised hearts.

“They do not know me,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 9:3b, NLT.

I reach for the hands of a sister. I crave the embrace of a mother.

“Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your Father. 10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:8-12, NLT)

Lord, teach me. Guide me. My Father, my God, my Hope.

 23 This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
    or the powerful boast in their power,
    or the rich boast in their riches.
24 But those who wish to boast
    should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
    who demonstrates unfailing love
    and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
    I, the Lord, have spoken! (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NLT)

Lord, you hear the cries of my heart. You delight in love and justice and righteousness. Be at work in our hearts.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Joshua 16, 17; Psalm 148; Jeremiah 8; Matthew 22

For a person who sees the glass half full, it is difficult sometimes for me to accept that others will not look up to the heavens or at least reach outward to the extended hands of those willing to help. I mourn with Jeremiah for my people:

Astonishment has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead; Is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery For the health of the daughter of my people? – Jeremiah 8:21, 22

Believe me, I am not privileged or unscathed in the battles that I start or are drafted into; in fact, quite the contrary. So I reason that I am different by temperament or blessed with stamina and strong will which teaches me to survive. Is God then, just my religion in the foxhole? I was thinking about this while driving to work; and when the religious supplications I had uttered seemed flat and without meaning. Again, I experienced this brain jolt as I texted a friend to say that I was praying for her father to be healed. I was unsure in both situations that my words were grounded in the will of God.

Wouldn’t it be great if we were moved to pray and seek God’s favor with the confidence of Joseph’s family?

Joshua 8:14 Then the children of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given us only one lot and one share to inherit since we are a great people, inasmuch as the Lord has blessed us until now (my emphasis)?”

Joshua 8:18 …And Joshua spoke to the house of Joseph – to Ephraim and Manasseh – saying, “You are a great people and have great power; you shall not have only one lot, but the mountain country shall be yours.”

Notice how the children of Joseph gave God credit for their burgeoning numbers of people. Can confidence also be based on the multitude of blessings (too many to count) that I have received? Also note  Joshua’s answer – more would be given. Can I seek God for favor or am I asking too much too often and mostly for material things? Am I even praying according to God’s will?

Just as I get caught up in this cycle of questioning that leads back to feeling inadequate, a more humble me whispers, “Look up!”

Matthew 22: 41-43 Jesus asked them, saying “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit (my emphasis) call Him ‘Lord’…”

I am reminded that Christ is not limited by human hands and feet or time and place or mood and thought content. I am not limited by my own humanity when I am in the Spirit. Looking up to Christ is to be filled with the Holy Spirit who is able to speak to me and through me – that is my confidence.

So with the psalmist, I say, “Let them praise the name of the Lord For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.” – “Psalm 148:13-14.

janet

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

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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)

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Joshua 12,13; Psalms 145; Jeremiah 6; Matthew 20

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.  So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.  When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.  ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’    Matthew 20:9;12

I tend to place myself within parables as I read them (always identifying with the most godly of the story’s characters, of course!).  After I read the parable of the workers in the vineyard, I instead imagined a scene from my future:

I walk into Heaven after serving God for most of my long life and find myself face to face with a couple of Nazis.

Huh?  This is Heaven right?  What’s going on here?

I suddenly recall reading the testimony of the U.S. Army chaplain assigned to minister to the surviving leaders of the Third Reich during their year-long trial at Nuremburg.  He claimed several were saved, including the chief of the German armed forces and the head of their massive slave labor force.  As I stand in Heaven staring them straight in the eye, I see that he was right.  I’m not sure how I feel about sharing the same eternal fate as men who were personally responsible for the deaths of tens of millions and caused great misery for hundreds of millions more.  They dedicated themselves to God only in the eleventh hour as they approached their executions.  Something doesn’t seem right.  Something doesn’t seem fair.

I look around the golden city and marvel at this, my eternal reward, and then start to wonder anew if I’m really being given nothing more than the reward these reformed killers have received.  Suddenly my eyes fall upon Jesus.  He’s looking at me with an expression that suggests He’s waiting for something to click within my mind.  Finally it does.  I realize that this eternal reward I feel slighted in having to share with the Nazis is a reward that Jesus alone actually earned.  Fairness to Jesus would require that I  take up residence in hell.  I’m only here because of God’s grace.  How then can I be wishing, even for a moment, that He apply a little justice to someone else?

I see Jesus is still waiting, and my thoughts break through yet another wall.  I might be sharing the same eternal fate as men who rebelled against God to a degree that few others in history ever have, but it’s SO wrong to think that God has blessed us equally.  We might be neighbors in Heaven, but I was given something they never were.  They served God only toward the end of lives filled with evil.  On the other hand, God prevented me from committing such levels of evil, and blessed me by drawing me to Him early in life.  These men lived most of their lives in service to themselves.  I was invited to live most of my life in service to the Great and Holy King.  What an unparalleled privilege!

Dear Lord, thank you for mercy rather than justice.  Destroy my lingering love of fairness.  Replace it with an ever greater love of goodness and grace.  Amen.

Michael   (mmattix)

From the archives. Originally published July 10, 2011.

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