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 7; 2 Corinthians 1; Ezekiel 15; Psalms 56&57

When David was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all the surrounding enemies, the king summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace, but the ark of God is out there in a tent!” But that same night the Lord said to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in? I have never lived in a house, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until this very day.” 2 Samuel 7:1-5 NLT

It seems like David has forgotten that the Lord had always been with him. He never left his side.

Now go and say to my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord of Heavens’ Armies has declared: I took you from tending sheep in the pasture and selected you to be the leader of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before your eyes. Now I will make your name as famous as anyone who has every lived on the earth!” 2 Samuel 7:8&9 NLT

But, the Lord won’t let him forget. He reminds him what he delivered him from and David is humbled.

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed, “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And now, Sovereign Lord, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving your servant a lasting destiny! Do you deal with everyone this way, O Sovereign Lord? “What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign Lord. Because of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known to your servant.” 2 Samuel 7:18-21 NLT

I think about my own life and how I am prone to forget how far God has brought me.

It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm in Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.” 2 Cor 1:21-23 NLT

He put his Holy Spirit inside me to give me power. All too often  I  let ingratitude creep in and  I am depleted of joy. And I don’t live in the freedom that he has promised me.

For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.” Psalm 56:13 NLT

Father, thank you for all that you have done in my life. For restoring the broken places. I pray that I never cease to be grateful. I pray that I would rely on your Holy Spirit always. I need you. Amen.

I will thank you, Lord, among the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” Psalms 57:9&10 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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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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2 Samuel 18, 2 Corinthians 11, Ezekiel 25, Psalms 73

2 Samuel 18

12 But the man replied, “Even if a thousand were weighed out into my hands, I would not lay a hand on the king’s son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake. 13 And if I had put my life in and nothing is hidden from the king you would have kept your distance from me.” 14 Joab said, “I’m not going to wait like this for you.” So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree.

This man had caught Joab in his hypocrisy. He knew Joab would have turned on him for killing the man if the king had found out about it. Joab could not answer, but only dismissed him. Those about to do evil often do not take the time to consider what they are about to do. They don’t care whether or not it is right or lawful. Don’t rush into action without thinking. Consider whether what you are about to do is right or wrong.

2 Corinthians 11

It astounds me how many false preachers are out there spewing out false doctrine and misleading Christians all over the world. I saw a “Prophet” the other day “prophesying” on facebook live while showing himself driving in his flashy new expensive car. You would think by now we cannot be fooled because we have the bible to refer to right? This is where they are so cunning. They “use” the bible to further their falsities and we don’t even take the time to check and are misled easily, in my opinion. Just as in the bible times we tend to judge preachers by the amount of money they make.  Paul would have none of this and separated himself from all wrong doing by not asking for a penny from the Corinthian church. Jesus himself taught that we should support our leaders that minister to us (Matthew 10:10), but we should always ask ourselves if their lifestyles are consistent with Biblical morality and if their teachings confirm Scripture and not judge them by worldly measures.

7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.

 Ezekiel 25

4 therefore I am going to give you to the people of the East as a possession. They will set up their camps and pitch their tents among you; they will eat your fruit and drink your milk. 5 I will turn Rabbah into a pasture for camels and Ammon into a resting place for sheep. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 6 For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet, rejoicing with all the malice of your heart against the land of Israel, 7 therefore I will stretch out my hand against you and give you as plunder to the nations. I will wipe you out from among the nations and exterminate you from the countries. I will destroy you, and you will know that I am the Lord.’ ”

What better way to follow 2 Corinthians 11 with Ezekiel 25 and then Psalms 73. Seems pretty self-explanatory to me….  Heed the warnings of the Lord you false prophets and evil doers of the world. Your time is coming.

Psalms 73

1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity their evil imaginations have no limits.8 They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance, 11 They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?” 12 This is what the wicked are like — always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. 15 If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. 19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! 20 They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.

Faithful people often wonder why they bother being good as they see the wicked prosper, the wealth of the wicked looks so inviting. At death suddenly all is made clear. The wicked suddenly lose all power and wealth whereas the faithful receive rewards beyond imagination and these rewards take on eternal value. What seemed like wealth is now waste and what seemed worthless now lasts forever. Personally I choose eternal wealth….

 God Bless

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2 Samuel 1; 1 Corinthians 12; Ezekiel 10; Psalm 49

David honors Saul and Jonathan’s memory with a funeral song.

Paul speaks of spiritual gifts–their diversity, necessity and purpose.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, NLT)

Ezekiel describes the glory of God.

Psalm 49 reminds the fleeting worth of wealth.

The readings toggle two realms: here and hereafter.

Lord, this year especially has me sorting through so many thoughts of past, present and purpose. Help me to order my days in light of your calling on my life. It is a joy and honor to serve you.

Courtney (66books365)

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I Samuel 31; I Corinthians 11; Ezekiel 9; Psalm 48

The men of Israel had fled from the lost battle, and Saul and his sons were dead, their headless bodies attached to a wall. “Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted for seven days.” I Samuel 31:11-13.

For all his faults and even though the kingdom was torn from his hands, Saul was still mourned and honored in his death. Sometimes I wish that I could undo all the mistakes and missteps I made in digging my own pit. Truly, the resurrection power of Christ Jesus that lives in me is the only force that could pull me up and out of those dark places.

Even so, I have experienced times when God seemed far away from me. At such times, I have examined my motives and my works to learn how far I have gone from Him. Corinthians 11:30-32 “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

Often, during those times, my family and others have commented on the blessings of God observed in my life. Their remarks confirm to me the unique position believers have in Christ Jesus. God illustrated that fact when speaking through Ezekiel and other prophets in the Bible to remind us that He marks His own.

Ezekiel 9:4 “…and the Lord said to him, ‘Go through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.’” I think of my many prayers to the Lord – admitting helplessness over things I have no power to change. Why does He come near? Because I am good – no! Because I am marked by Him; I am His own, and He alone is able to save.

I look around and the signs of God’s presence are everywhere – He is in the beauty of His creation; He is in His people, the Church; He is in the sacrifices and the tender gestures of the strong and the weak. He is here right now.

Psalm 48:12-14 “Walk about Zion, And go all around her. Count her towers; Mark well her bulwarks; Consider her palaces; That you may tell it to the generation following. For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”

There is no place I would rather be, Dear Lord God, than here and now to be in Your presence!

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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