2 Kings 25; Hebrews 7; Amos 1 Psalm144

Zedekiah repeats the errors of his father and leads his people in evil ways and God “thrusts them from his presence” 2 Kings 24:20.  They turn from Him and the fallout is horrendous. Jerusalem is taken. The last thing Zedekiah sees before his vision is permanently taken from him is the slaughter of his sons. He is put in shackles and carried off like a slave. The Temple is stripped of it’s precious metals and sacred items of worship are carted away. The priests and government officials are executed.

I think of Evan Laar’s post this past week about the rooms of our hearts, for now our very hearts serve as God’s holy temple. I see the parallel between what happened to the destruction of the Temple and what takes place when sin is allowed to rule the human heart. When the our hearts deny the cleansing presence of the Holy Spirit, that which God has called sacred, can be broken down and carted off for uses that have nothing to do with that for which they were made.

But Christ has interceded for us, once and for all. Jesus, our great High Priest can never be killed off. Satan already tried that and it backfired; the power of sin and death was broken. “…but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:24-25

Jesus died and rose from the dead so that nothing can destroy this new temple, the surrendered heart made to worship him. His cleansing blood, his righteousness makes my heart a sacred and holy place in which his presence can dwell. Even when I drift and turn away, Jesus is interceding for me. His love is a magnetic pull that calls me home, for He is the author and perfecter of my faith.

“He is my loving God and fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I take refuge… O Lord, what is man that you care for him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” Psalm 144:2-4

Lord Jesus, thank you for what you have done for me. Thank you that you declare my heart yours, holy and sacred, not based on what I have done, but on what you have accomplished. Holy Spirit, be at home in my heart in new ways today. Amen

Kathy

 

 

 

 

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2 Kings 24; Hebrews 6; Joel 3; Psalm 143

Have you ever been thirsty? Really thirsty? Last summer my family and I want on a hike at Mt.Rainier. It was spectacular. But the sun was hot and the air was dry. We thought we had brought enough water to last for the hike but the arid conditions caught us by surprise. Luckily we realized we were getting low and were able to ration our water. I experienced a thirst beyond a normal thirst. It was all I could think about. I longed for a cool drink of water.

In Psalm 143, David is experiencing a different kind of thirst:

Lord, hear my prayer,
    listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
    come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,
    for no one living is righteous before you.
The enemy pursues me,
    he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
    like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
    I meditate on all your works
    and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
    I thirst for you like a parched land.

When we are thirsty we need water. When we thirst for God, He fills us with Living Water. I think it isn’t a coincidence that God created our human bodies to work in such a way that it reminds us daily of our need for relationship with Him. Every time we take a sip of water it can remind of us of God’s satisfying goodness. When we go too long without it, we become parched.

Lord, help me to make spending time with You and time in your word as natural as it is to fill my body with water. Help me to have a healthy thirst for you. Thank you for the flow of Living Water that is always available and never runs out. Help me not to look for other things to quench my thirst because they will never satisfy.

Ann (naturelady)

 

 

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2 Kings 23; Hebrews 5; Joel 2; Psalm 142

24 Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the Lord. 25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses. 

God wants my complete devotion. There is nothing that should be higher in my life than Him.  However, is that the case for me?  So many times I see my bible sitting in the place I have my quiet time.  I know God is calling to me to spend time with him.  But I just can’t today, Lord.  I got up too late and have to run to get to work.  Not tonight, Lord.  My favorite TV show is on.  What does it hurt to read that book?  Everyone else is reading it.  I have a really big decision to make.  I think I’ll call a friend instead of praying and talking to God about it.  I am feeling lonely and unloved.  I think I’ll eat anything I can to stuff the feelings and numb the pain.

I may not have Asherah poles and statues of animals sitting around my house, but there are so many other things I can put at a higher priority than God. Yet, the joy and satisfaction that comes from the sweet time with I spend with Him, so outweighs anything else.  He will meet my needs, fill the emptiness inside, and direct my decisions. All that and more comes to me when I put Him first, and highest, in my life.  Wouldn’t I love to have it said of me, “She turned to the LORD with all her heart and with all her soul and with all her strength?”  I am a work in progress.

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—     the great locust and the young locust,     the other locusts and the locust swarm[b] my great army that I sent among you.

The first time I heard the verse, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” I was at a women’s retreat. It was the first one I had ever attended and I was a very new believer.  I was in deep pain at the time.  So much had happened in my life due to my brokenness and bad decisions.  I needed hope that a better life was possible.  Towards the end of the retreat, a woman got up and gave her testimony.  One of the verses she quoted was Joel 2:25.  I sensed the Spirit whisper to my soul, “that verse is for you!”  It was almost as if I could audibly hear the promise of the Lord.  He wanted me to know He could restore relationships and rebuild my life.

Looking at the verse now, many years later, I noticed something different. The “locusts” in my life back then were of my own doing.  But these “locusts” were referring to a plague that God had sent.  God purposefully sent them to get the attention of the nation of Judah.  He was calling them to repent. He wanted to be first in their lives.

12“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 

God loves us so much and he wants us all to himself. I have learned over my years of walking with him that he will send “locusts” in various forms to draw me back to him.  As I’ve heard it stated, God is more interested in my character than my comfort.  There have been times he has allowed me to experience the devastation only to build me up even stronger on the other side.  Those idols pull at me and promise fulfillment, yet never deliver.  Those “locusts” force me to my knees in repentance.

Surely he has done great things! 21 Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice.  Surely the LORD has done great things!

He has done great things in my life. I have every reason to be glad and rejoice. Hallelujah!

Heavenly Father, I ask you to forgive me for the times I do not put you first. My life is so much better when you are in your proper place.  No matter what comes at me, I can handle it because I am not alone.  There is nothing else that will give me the strength I need; nothing else will fill the emptiness inside.  Thank you for never giving up on me. 

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Kings 22; Hebrews 4; Joel 1; Psalms 140, 141

Grief. Repentance. Punishment. Oppression. Justice. Persecution. Calamity. Destruction.

15 The day of the Lord is near,
    the day when destruction comes from the Almighty.
    How terrible that day will be! Joel 1:15, NLT

Where enemies are plotting, evil, wicked, vipers.

O Lord, rescue me from evil people.
    Protect me from those who are violent,
those who plot evil in their hearts
    and stir up trouble all day long.
Their tongues sting like a snake;
    the venom of a viper drips from their lips. Psalm 140:1-3, NLT

And choices are made to obey or not.

He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right. 2 Kings 22:2, NLT.

It’s all there in the scriptures.

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:13, NLT

And in it too, refining fire.

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12, NLT.

Let the godly strike me!
    It will be a kindness!
If they correct me, it is soothing medicine.
    Don’t let me refuse it. Psalm 141:5, NLT

 

Rest.

So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts.”

Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall. Hebrews 4:6-11, NLT.

We just returned from a weekend wedding in Massachusetts. For a sweet, short time, I played with my kids, ventured down water slides, walked through the woods, celebrated life and love, feasted. When I returned home, all the things I have still to do were waiting. But something in me was changed, when I needed it most.

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT.

Lord, didn’t I meet you on the mountains? Every flaming autumn leaf, the carpet of pine needles, the way the wind rippled the waters and lifted my hair in playful dance. Didn’t you touch my heart in the aisle, as I sat by my husband and witnessed marriage vows, you spoke to me of your covenant love. You are my rest and my peace. You restore me. You comfort me. You encourage me. You soothe me. You are provider, protector. You are gracious and merciful. Thank you for respite and a reminder that I can access your peace any day, anywhere–not just in the Massachusetts wilderness, but here at home: by the computer, in the tasks, fixing meals, drinking coffee–I fix my focus. I am yours. You walk with me, and I am not alone.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 21; Hebrews 3; Hosea 14; Psalm 139

It finally happened – my daughter is getting married. Could not be more excited – today they are looking at wedding dresses and I get to stay home and hold the fort.  Not sure what the rest of the world’s dads go through in these moments but I am thrilled for one thing – they have both come together to declare their future home to be centred by their relationship with God.

 He built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my name.” – 2 Kings 21:4   NRSV

I remember how my wife and I, we started our journey at 21 and 22, could only survive our first five years because of the confidence and pride we had in Jesus.

 Christ, however, was faithful over God’s[f] house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm[g] the confidence and the pride that belong to hope. – Hebrews 3:6   NRSV

We tithed when it seemed no one else was, we served and I think this was where we learned what boundaries looked like and we loved.  But all of that came from within, from the Holy Spirit.

O Ephraim, what have I[e] to do with idols?
    It is I who answer and look after you.[f]
I am like an evergreen cypress;
    your faithfulness[g] comes from me. – Hosea 14:8   NRSV

We found ourselves more willing to be vulnerable than most because we knew we were in the palm of God’s hand.  In that secure place, He made Himself known to us.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me. – Psalm 139:1   NRSV

Not sure if you are familiar with, My Heart, Christ’s Home The story impacted me as I took the Navigator 2:7 course.  I still have a few rooms left to give to Jesus and I am working on one right now.  It is my prayer for my daughter and her fiance and for you and I, that our home is Christ’s home first and then the rest will follow.

Lord, my heart is your home. Many times I forget, even during the day.  I know I remember each morning that I wake, but let me remember all day so that others looking and watching how I live can see that you are a member of my family and my home.  I love you so much for loving me.  May my gift of love back to you be the time we spend each day together.  Amen

evanlaar

 

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2 Kings 20; Hebrews 2; Hosea 13; Psalms 137,138

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.” Psalms 138:3 NLT

“Because he is my Father, I do not wonder if his plans for me are good, if he’ll come through like he should.” (I Am No Victim, Kristene DiMarco). I’ve been listening to this song a lot. I wish I could say that I always believe it. How quickly I can forget his faithfulness. Even after all my pleads and prayers and cries to him. But, he is so good. He will show up in unexpected ways to remind me 0f his constant care.

What are mere mortals that you should think about them, or son of man that you should care for him? Yet for a little while you were made lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them authority over all things.” Hebrews 2:6-8 NLT

My son was telling me how excited he was to serve at the banquet that night. We walked through the corn maze and all I could think about was my already aching feet. Jesus served others, he said…he washed others feet. Later that evening as we poured water for the guests, my thoughts turned outward. Oh, how easy it is to get caught up in my own restlessness. It’s when I step out in faith in my weakness, that God shows himself strong. He sustains me.

The Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud. Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me. The Lord will work out his plans for my life-for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.” Psalms 138:6-8 NLT

David knew that the Lord was with him in the midst of his troubles.

When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, O Lord, how I have always been faithful to you and have single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly… “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria.” 2 Kings 20:1-6 NLT

The Lord knew that David and Hezekiah had hearts who sought after him.

I have been the Lord your God ever since I brought you out of Egypt. You must acknowledge no God but me, for there is no other savior. I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land. But when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became proud and forgot me.” Hosea 13:4-6 NLT

Dear Father, I want to have a grateful heart. Thank you for your provision in my life. I love you. Amen.

I give thanks, O Lord, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods.” Psalms 138:1 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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2 Kings 19, Psalm 156 & 136, Hosea 12, Hebrews 1

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.  Hebrews 1

God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit….speaking to us in different ways throughout time.  He uses people, prophets, his word and the whispers of the Holy Spirit to communicate with us his will and his plans.

But who am I, O Lord that you are mindful of me? Who am I that you would hear my prayers, that you would reach down and comfort my soul? Jesus, as Hezekiah spread out the letter before the Lord and poured out his heart in his darkest moment, may we be so bold to bring our hearts desires, hopes, dreams and supplications to you. Just as Hezekiah sought wise council, listened to the appointed prophet and turned to you, may we be brave to turn off the distractions and voices surrounding us that pull us away from you. For you have made a way for us to approach your throne of grace with confidence without the need of intercessors. You alone, Jesus tore the veil making it possible to have a direct connection with the God of the universe who created it all. Again, Lord, who am I that you are mindful of me?

 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever Psalm 136

Thank you, Father for sacrificing your Son to be the propitiation for our sins. For suffering the ultimate disgrace and pain to make a way for me, a wretched sinner undeserving but ever so grateful for your grace. Help me to never lose my awe of the beauty and power of the cross of Christ. Amen.

kateredding

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