Joel; Matthew 10

Matthew 10 begins with Jesus sending the 12 disciples out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and heal the sick. After instructing them on how to act, he transitions to warning them of the dangers they will face.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.” Matthew 10:16-18 ESV

Jesus’ warning of persecution rings just as true for many Christians today as it did to his disciples and the other early Christians when the they were seized and killed for their beliefs. However, God promises that He will be with me through all trials and persecution I may face.

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10: 26,28-29, 32 ESV

Jesus tells his disciples not to fear or bend to the will of those on earth who persecute or even kill them, but to instead fear God, who ultimately cares for them. God showed His power and care for the disciples when He poured His Spirit upon them at Pentecost, the event of which seems to be foreshadowed in Joel Chapter 4.

“And it shall come to pass afterword, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see vision. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” Joel 2:28-29 ESV

Dear God, thank you for sending your Spirit to strengthen me. Thank you for reminding me that I should not fear persecution but should instead trust in You for You alone can save me. Please help me trust in You and look to You for guidance. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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2 Chronicles 24; 2 Kings 12; Psalm 50; Matthew 9

9When Jesus was leaving, he saw a man named Matthew. Matthew was sitting in the tax office. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” And Matthew stood up and followed Jesus.

 10Jesus had dinner at Matthew’s house. Many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with Jesus and his followers. 11The Pharisees saw this and asked Jesus’ followers, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

12Jesus heard the Pharisees ask this. So he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor. Only the sick need a doctor. 13Go and learn what this means: ‘I want faithful love more than I want animal sacrifices.’ I did not come to invite good people. I came to invite sinners.” Matthew 9:9-13

In my reading today, I was intrigued Jesus’ words to the Pharisees, especially the words “faithful love”. Looking deeper, I learned that one of the definitions of the original Greek word eleos is “covenant loyalty”.

When Jesus said the phrase, “I want faithful love more than I want animal sacrifices…” He was referring to a passage in the prophecies of Hosea, that continues, “…I want people to know me more than I want burnt offerings.”

From the beginning of the earth, God has always wanted relationship with His children. He demonstrated that with Adam, when He walked with him in the cool of the day. He demonstrated that all through the Old Testament, with His relationship with Abraham, Enoch, Elijah, Moses, and many more. And, through Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, He reestablished the possibility of a face-to-face relationship with Heavenly Father through Holy Spirit.

 8I do not scold you for your sacrifices.

You always bring me your burnt offerings.

9But I do not need the bulls from your stalls

or the goats from your pens.

10Every animal of the forest is already mine.

The cattle on a thousand hills are mine.

11I know every bird on the mountains.

Every living thing in the fields is mine. Psalm 50:8-11

He didn’t need the animal sacrifices before Jesus came to the world, because those animals already belonged to Him. He accepted the sacrifices because the blood sacrifice was what temporarily allowed man to be close. Just like He didn’t need the temple to be repaired by King Joash and the priests and He didn’t need any of the new “stuff” bought by the received offerings.

What He wanted then and continues to yearn for today is for me, for all of His children, to seek His face, to desire to know Him, to walk in relationship with Him all the days of my life. It doesn’t matter that I have sinned, that I need(ed) a hospital. He has loved me in the midst of my sin and will forever invite me into His presence.

Yesappa, Thank You for wanting to be in relationship with me. Thank You for providing the ultimate sacrifice through Jesus that allows my sin to be forever washed in the blood. Thank you for loving me before I even knew Your name. Help me to know You better, to know Your heart, Your will, and Your grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

International Children’s Bible, Copyright © 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

From the archives. Originally published July 27, 2016.

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2 Chronicles 22-23; 2 Kings 11; Psalms 131; Matthew 8

Ahaziah, son of Ahab, did what was evil in God’s sight so he was killed.  Then his mother, who was in counselor in doing wicked deeds, took over for him.

“Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family of the house of Judah.” (2 Chronicles 22:10 ESV)

By hiding the king’s son for seven years to keep him away from his grandmother, they were able to make Joash king and get rid of Athaliah.

Then they brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony.  And they proclaimed him king, and Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and they said “long live the king!  When Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she went into the house of the Lord to the people.  And when she looked, there was the king standing by his pillar at the entrance, and the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets, and the singers with their musical instruments leading in the celebration,” (2 Chronicles 23:11-14 ESV)

As I write the scripture listed above, I’m picturing KIng Jesus sitting on His throne, with all the believers praising Him and Satan realizing he had been defeated.

And the people said, “O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalms 131:3 ESV)

The Centurion hoped in the Lord and the Lord used him as an example, as well as explaining how we are lost without Him.

“Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.  I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:10-12 ESV)

May we hope in the Lord from this day forward.  Amen!

Kellie

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2 Kings 9-10; Psalm 49; Matthew 7

 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Matt 7:6) NIV

The thing about wisdom is you have to experience life, and a lot of making mistakes or getting things right, to gain it. Studying scripture over the years–the more you read it and the more you experience life following its teachings–can give you a deeper understanding of the meanings of Jesus’ words.  Sometimes it just speaks to you at a particular season of life when God is teaching you. Right now, my small group is studying the book of Genesis. It is a book with which I am fairly familiar. Yet chapter 3, the entrance of sin into the world, has spoken to me quite profoundly this time. The shame and blame that were the first fruits of sin are lessons God is using as we are working through some issues together. They have to do with people who have had influence over me throughout my life. Some of the verses in today’s readings spoke to me of warnings God has given us that there are people who don’t have our best interests at heart.

In a lot of ways, I have gone through life as a naive child. There are people who have come into my life that I have trusted, and entrusted, with pieces of me that are sacred. My hopes, my dreams, even the things I am most ashamed to admit are pieces of me that are sacred. There have been occasions when I experienced those parts of me that are sacred being trampled on and used to tear me to pieces. I did not have the wisdom to understand Jesus’ words.

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from his thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matt 7:15-20) NIV

I did not always know how to recognize the “false prophets” I encounter. Their sheep’s clothing can be pretty convincing. Even in a church environment, it is sometimes difficult to tell what kind of “fruit” they bear. Some of the most beautiful plants have fruit that is poisonous to eat if we aren’t familiar with the plants. I have had to learn to trust God’s leading and the Holy Spirit’s promptings when new people enter my sphere of influence. It is okay to be friends with them, but they are not people I should take advice from or share my heart (those places that can be wounded). Being a small group leader for women’s bible studies has given me occasion to come in contact with a lot of women. With some, I immediately experience a heart bond; others have elicited a “danger, danger” response. I’ve actually had to speak to church leadership as I found myself questioning their beliefs as they shared in group. I wanted to make sure I understood what I thought to be the Truth was actually the Truth.  Their words have reminded me that while something might be true, it is not necessarily the Truth (as we saw in Genesis). We always need to be in close connection with God when we are out in the world and very careful not to lead others in a way that doesn’t align with His Word.

Luckily, I have a God I can trust with every part of me. I don’t need to hold anything back from Him! He guides me down the path of righteousness, steers me away from anything that might harm me, and heals the places others have wounded. Experience has shown me I can trust His Spirit will prompt me when something is not quite right.

But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. (Ps 49:15) NIV

I am not always going to get it right. As a woman who has been greatly healed by God, I tend to share some of those stories of his redeeming work in my life that involve tender places. The thing is, someone can twist those words any which way they choose and it can’t hurt me. I know what He has done in me and for me. I also know I can go to Him when I have chosen poorly with whom to share. He will bind up those wounds and send me back out to keep fighting the good fight.

Heavenly Father, I know there are wolves out there ready to devour me and many others. I ask to be able to recognize them for my own safety and the safety of those you have placed under my care. Continue to guide us in your Truth so we will not be deceived. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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2 Kings 7-8; 2 Chronicles 21; Matthew 6

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34 [ESV])

This chapter of the New Testament is filled with many things of which we as Christ-followers need to be reminded. This chapter alone would be good subject matter for a week of devotions. Matthew covers the following topics in this chapter:

  • Giving to the poor
  • Prayer
  • Fasting
  • Worry
  • Doing good to others
  • Anxiety
  • Treasures in Heaven

And then he adds the concluding verse. If we focus on those things listed above we will have plenty of things to do to occupy our minds and lives for today. We won’t have time to put more worries in our little worry boxes. We will be so focused on what we need to do today that tomorrow will take care of itself.

How do you spend your days? Do you worry about what’s coming later in the week or next month or year? Do your thoughts go to issues you have no control over or ability to change. In reading through this chapter there is enough to occupy our minds and actions with for today. Let’s begin focusing in the here and now. Tomorrow comes way too soon.

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2 Kings 2:4-6; Matthew 5

–God—who is  More Than Enough—

2 Kings 2: 4 slices close … leaving this vulnerable heart

exposed;

the desperation and the terror of the woman pulses through the first paragraph:

Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” ESV emphasis mine

Yet-  in her desperation- faith rises- she cried to Elisha.  He responds:

 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” ESV

What do you have in the house?….nothing but a jar of oil.

And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” ESV

She went into a “secret” place; a private place (shut the door behind yourself)- and she poured from her jar- into all the jars they gathered in obedience.

And God provided and delivered.

The Lord can take the small capacity of my oil and multiply it again and again; above and beyond.  I ponder what this oil is in my life. Different thoughts surface for me.

What surfaces for you?

Another thought swirls for me:

What do I have in the (this) house?

There is a circumstance in my life that sometimes leads me to what feels like the very edge of desperation. The pressure wipes memories from my mind and tightens vessels in my body. It presses on my chest with a weight that can flatten me to the bed, to the chair, to the floor; flatten the life out of me.

This chapter:

The servant’s husband was dead; a man who served the Lord. The creditor is coming to take her two children as slaves; the family that remains in the wake of her husband’s death. My heart roils with her grief and despair; this vulnerable woman.

(Again)

So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” ESV emphasis mine

Sometimes I despise the small things… the “vessel of oil” that is mine in my life. The Lord reminds me that He is fully able to take that small thing and multiply it into a full, bounty of provision.

Lord, help me consecrate my oil unto You. Let me live in obedience to You. May I see and experience the bounty of Your provision. Increase my faith to ask of You and to take any needed actions/steps. You do all things well. Amen.

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2 Kings 2-3; Psalm 48; Matthew 4

The view outside of my front window is of one large shade garden. There are several gardens in our yard, and most of them now are dominated by weeds. Last year, losses and crises took my attention from home to urgent issues. And this year, I’ve had to examine areas of my life and focus small first to nurture things that have been neglected–the garden is certainly symbolic of that.

This morning, I head out to the big garden with gloves and clippers to try to take back what two growing seasons have taken over. I read in 2 Kings 3 of armies in the wilderness: “The king of Edom and his troops joined them, and all three armies traveled along a roundabout route through the wilderness for seven days. But there was no water for the men or their animals (2 Kings 3:9, NLT).

They called on Elisha who explained, “This is what the Lord says: This dry valley will be filled with pools of water! 17 You will see neither wind nor rain, says the Lord, but this valley will be filled with water. You will have plenty for yourselves and your cattle and other animals. 18 But this is only a simple thing for the Lord, for he will make you victorious over the army of Moab! 19 You will conquer the best of their towns, even the fortified ones. You will cut down all their good trees, stop up all their springs, and ruin all their good land with stones.”

20 The next day at about the time when the morning sacrifice was offered, water suddenly appeared! It was flowing from the direction of Edom, and soon there was water everywhere (2 Kings 3:16-20, NLT).

In Matthew, Jesus is tempted by Satan–to satisfy himself, to prove himself, to exalt himself. Jesus responds to each offer with scripture. I think on this now, because whether it’s temptation (to take things into my own hands, to prove myself, to be in charge) or accusation, an enemy’s motives always reveal an intention to kill, steal, or destroy. It could be the unseen things like peace or faith, or it could be very visible–relationships, possessions, jobs … even gardens.

Dawn breaks. I won’t get to all the garden spaces today, but I ready myself to tackle both the unseen and the visible. I think long on scriptures I know that tell of who God is, and remind me of who I am because of Him, in Him.

13 Take note of the fortified walls,
    and tour all the citadels,
that you may describe them
    to future generations.
14 For that is what God is like.
    He is our God forever and ever,
    and he will guide us until we die. (Psalm 48:13-14, NLT)

Lord, an enemy is bent on stealing and destroying–and already so much is wounded or broken by lies, grief, evil. When I look at the destruction, I linger in the loss and am weak. Lord, I look to you, to what you can do, to the valley you will fill with water.

Courtney (66books365)

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