Tag Archives: Bible

Judges 16; Acts 20; Jeremiah 29; Mark 15

Looking at examples in the Bible, I think God is trying to say that it’s okay to go through pain – only He wants to walk through it with us.

Samson is a fine example.  Even though he had failed, God did not leave him.

Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. – Judges 16:30 NRSV

For Paul pain was a way of life and he prophesied the same to us. Only way through it and its the staple of my walk with Jesus is to place my hope in God, counting on His grace as my foundation and my fountain of joy.

 Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God[d]that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.[e]  I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.  Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. – Acts 20:28-30

That is why I struggle with this promise that I still quote from time to time —

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.  When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart,  I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes – Jeremiah 29:11-14

I struggle with it not because it is not true, but because if it is taken out of context it misses the fact that there was 70 years of pain before this promise was realized.

So Jesus’s life has to be the accumulation of all my thoughts.  The cross and Skull Hill represented death, mockery and pain but for me I found there a place of redemption, forgiveness and hope because of Jesus.  What begins in horror and inhumanity, ends in victory and grace.

 Then they brought Jesus[d] to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).  And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.  And they crucified him – Mark 15:22-24

Lord, thank you for your promises, they are true, every last one of them.  While I  journey with You and we might be joined by hurt, may I take comfort that You and others that You have called have already gone before me.  

evanlaar

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Jeremiah, Judges, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Nehemiah 1-3; Acts 2:1-13

 All were astounded and greatly confused, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others jeered at the speakers, saying, “They are drunk on new wine!”

Acts 2:13

I work at a church, so my wife and I often have front row seats to some interesting spiritual ‘stuff’ – for lack of a better word. 

The Holy Spirit, what he* does, when he does it, etc. is a tricky subject, and it’s easy to step on toes. Everyone’s particular opinions tend to be a mix of what they grew up with, what they’ve been taught, and what they’ve personally experienced. I tend to be much more operative out of what I’ve been taught, and to be honest what I’ve experienced (in terms of the miraculous) have been somewhat limited. I’m also a skeptic by nature, I don’t believe things right away, and it can be a fault. I probably have missed out on countless miracles as I searched for a rational explanation. Ultimately I came back to God because there were things happening around me that I couldn’t explain anymore without Him.

In any event, there was something that happened at church last week that sort of challenged some of the ‘boxes’ I had put the Holy Spirit into. And in the process of praying and thinking through the experience afterwards I came to a conclusion: I don’t really know how you’re supposed to determine whether or not something is from the Holy Spirit or not.

Do I just go on how it feels? Seems dangerous.

The exec. Pastor that oversees me and has been mentoring me a bit shares this quote often, not sure if it’s his or not, “One of the most dangerous thing about being human is you can always choose to interpret data a different way”. 

Seems to apply to ‘spiritual’ events as well.

So I started thinking I needed to establish some criteria on how I sort of filter these sorts of things in the odd circumstances, but also in the everyday. Like when someone tells me the church should be doing a certain program, is that from the Spirit? or just someone’s opinion?

I came up with these three things, you might have a few more, and these might change for me over time, but it’s a starting point for me: 

Where’s the fruit? (Matt 7:16, Luke 6:44, Matt. 7:20 etc.)

Does it bring Glory and Honor to Jesus? (1 Cor. 10:31)

Is it done out of love? (John 13:35)

Again, not an exhaustive list, and certainly room for interpretation, but these are my three quick checks. If it doesn’t pass these three, chances are it’s not a work of the Spirit.

Is the message, prophecy, tongues, etc. done out of love for another? Is there other fruit in this person’s life or ministry to back up this message? Does it bring glory to Jesus? That’s where I start. 

And if applied to the following passages in Acts, we see Peter preach boldly, thousands get saved, glory given to God, and ongoing fruit in the lives of the disciples. I never want to miss out on what the Spirit of God is doing in the midst of his people today, but I want to remain sound in what I affirm and live by. There were many people in Acts who missed out on God’s goodness because they couldn’t believe what was happening through God’s Spirit poured out on men (Gentiles nonetheless!)

Lord would you allow my walk with you to become so close, that I would constantly bring you glory, love others, and bear fruit as I obey your statutes? Lord allow me the gift of repentance for the times I’ve missed out on your Spirit’s work in the world, open my eyes to see your glory in the midst of your people.

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

2 Chronicles 10; Revelation 1; Zephaniah 2; Luke 24

Then starting with what Moses and all the prophets had said about him, Jesus began to explain everything that had been written about himself in the Scriptures…

He said to them, “Remember when I was with you before? I said that everything written about me must happen—everything in the law of Moses, the books of the prophets, and the Psalms.”

Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He said to them, “It is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that a change of hearts and lives and forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, starting at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24:27; 44-48 (NCV)

Since I truly gave my heart to the Lord and began following Him, I have sought out authentic understanding of the scriptures. As I read, I’ve had questions, often generated by conflicts in teachings I have heard over the years.

I’ve heard many versions of the gospel from many different teachers. I have heard some teachings which have resonated with the Spirit inside me and some that have made my toes curl. Some teachers sought to control, while others preached freedom in Christ. Some taught hell fire and brim stone doctrine, full of sin and suffering. Some taught circumcision of heart flesh, co-crucified/co-heir identity, and sin-saturated grave clothes left behind in the tomb.

In the beginning of my journey into the Bible, I didn’t fully understand the importance of the Old Testament, a telling of the history of Israel. And then slowly those passages were opened up to me. The pages became relevant and personal. The stories became real to me, not simply words on ‘papyrus’ anymore. I was shown the significance of each story, of each man and woman’s journey, the role they played in the big picture. The foretelling of Christ hidden within those pages, hidden in plain sight, was revealed to me. I was given eyes to see and ears to hear and I have come to love the Old Testament as much as the New.

Come to the Lord, all you who are not proud,

who obey his laws.

Do what is right. Learn to be humble.

Maybe you will escape

on the day the Lord shows his anger. Zephaniah 2:3 (NCV)

Two years ago, as the new mom of a 10 month old and living on the mission field, I was searching for a way to get deeper in the Word despite the busyness of life, of motherhood and ministry. I prayed for something, anything to help me stick to my plan. I needed encouragement; I needed accountability. Less than two days passed and God answered my prayer with an email from Courtney (66Books365), a friend of a friend who I had never met before, inviting me to become a part of the 66Books community. I was astonished by the timeliness and the answer to my prayer. And, I continue to be in awe of our ensuing friendship.

Blessed is the one who reads the words of God’s message, and blessed are the people who hear this message and do what is written in it. The time is near when all of this will happen. Revelation 1:3 (NCV)

As I read the Bible as a part of this book club, I am blessed beyond measure.

I have come across verses that I have read many times before that didn’t mean much to me in the past, but that resonate for such a time as this. These passages have become significant to my current situation and circumstances and offer new wisdom, re-enforcing my godly identity. Sometimes, what I read is God’s way of preparing me for what I am about to experience, His way of giving me new tools to use in the future, even as early as later in my day.

As I read, I gain new insight and understanding of areas of my walk with Christ that were a mystery to me before. I am given revelation about my struggles and the solutions to those issues. I am given real life examples to follow, mentors to help me through, and a Comforter to walk alongside me. And, in turn, God is using me to teach and impart what I am learning to others, both on and off the foreign mission field.

The Bible is encouraging and inspiring. It is transforming and life-changing. It has increased my faith and my reliance on Christ. It has become the sword I use to deflect the darts of the enemy. God’s Word has become my life-giving, daily bread.

Yesappa, Thank You for blessing me with Your Word. Thank You for making Your Word rhema for my life, my daily bread. Thank You for revealing Your love, Your grace, Your wisdom to me. Continue to open my eyes and ears to receive and to understand Your scriptures; continue to explain to me all that has been written about You. Help me humble myself so that I may truly hear and obey Your message. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Revelation

Numbers 20, Psalm 58, Psalm 59, Isaiah 9:8-10:4, James 3

Read - http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Num.%2020;%20Ps.%2058,59;%20Isa.9:8-10:4;%20James%203&version=NKJV

Numbers 20             Moses said, “Hear now, you rebels!” Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly – The Lord spoke to Moses, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”

            Not by Faith, but out of anger did Moses serve the Lord God. Therefore God was not seen as Holy by the witnesses. The consequence? No Promised Land for Moses. How many times do my emotions over rule my trust in God and His Word? How many witnesses of my words and actions have I turned away from God? How many ways do I circumvent Jesus’ Glory by my own self interests? How many “promised land” situations have I been cut off from because of this!? Jesus, I willfully, actively choose to think and act by faith and trusting Your Word/ Relationship so that I do not focus on what so easily ensnares me. (1)

Psalm 58 , Psalm 59, Isaiah 9:8-10:4, James 3 –

               The wicked … go astray, speaking lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent; The mighty gather against me, Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord.For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips, And for the cursing and lying which they speak. Psalm 58-59

               The tongue is a little member and boasts great things. The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. … it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. No man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men…  James 3

            Lord, am I double minded and forked tongued? Do I say and do what I think and feel? Please have mercy on me and reveal to me my innermost motives, desires and Your Truth perspectives. If I do not yield to You, You will overtake me by wrathful force. (2)

              Because of this, He shall take them away as with a whirlwind, As in His living and burning wrath. .. Consume them in wrath, consume them, And let them know that God rules in Jacob To the ends of the earth. … the Lord shall set up the adversaries against him, the Lord will cut off … Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts The land is burned up. Psalm 58-59, Isaiah 9:8-10:4

              I fear both Your just judgment and wrath as well as losing Your peace, joy and intimacy in relationship with You. I confess to You the realty of my fickleness. I hate sin!

Who say in pride and arrogance of heart: “We will rebuild with hewn stones; We will replace them with cedars.” For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them, Nor do they seek the Lord of hosts. Isaiah 9:8-10:4

              I surrender to You, Lord Jesus Christ, my willfulness to do things my own way, as I see fit without doing Your Word and Holy Spirit counsel. I purpose my mind to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” and have my tongue, hands and feet move according to Your Holy Spirit. (5)

Your judgments are clear:

              “Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, Who write misfortune, Which they have prescribed To rob the needy of justice, Without Me they shall bow down among the prisoners, And they shall fall among the slain.” Isaiah 9:8-10:4

Yet You say FOUR TIMES in Isaiah 9:8-10:4

For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still.”

             You reach out to me and to all of us – Come to Me!” “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”  Rejecting my usual patterns, turning away from sinful relationships, not wasting time, not looking at useless information, abhorring addictions, habits and weak mindsets is Your Requirement for holiness! Step by step, day by day, I will live Your success by Your Way! (3)

The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance;  So that men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; Surely He is God who judges in the earth.” I will wait for You, For God is my defense. My God of mercy shall come to meet me; Psalm 58-59

              Repentance’s fruit is Sweet! What Peace, Joy and Freedom to be unselfish and not needy when I walk in repentance! Repentance takes time, practice, pain without regret and a lot of work by Repeatedly Doing Your thoughts and Your Ways. But the Refreshment and Still waters are more than worth it!! Thanks my Mentor and Power, Lord God Jesus Christ! (4)  

But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; For You have been my defense And refuge in the day of my trouble. To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; For God is my defense, My God of mercy. Psalm 58-59

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3

 

Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, James, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Numbers, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Genesis 20, Matthew 19, Nehemiah 9, Acts 19

Read at – www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Gen.%2020;%20Matt.%2019;%20Neh.%209;%20Acts%2019&version=NKJV

Genesis 20                 Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. … But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” … And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? …

             So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; for the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

             How Amazing is the Lord God to those He favors! You protect and orchestrate Your Will to be done through circumstances. Your Ways are not mysterious, but bold!

            What a responsibility I, Your child, have in living daily to honor You, the King of kings! Tragically, I can do incredible damage, even unknowingly, when I live self-centeredly, out of fear and selfishness. Please Lord God, have me live in Fear of You Lord! Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I will not cause other people to stumble or to not know You. Let Your truth and love be my motive.

Matthew 19                 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”… they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

             Lord Jesus, You remind me, again, that I am “just Your child”. There is nothing and no one that I am to hold tightly to except You. Yet by my human nature, You declare that it is impossible. But by Your Holy Spirit, it IS possible for me to cling to and live for You! Please enable me to focus and fix my heart and mind on You 24/7, Lord Jesus. To please You is to be my utmost desire. To hear Your Voice and do Your Will is my delight. To rest in You so I am healed and given direction. May Your Word drown out all of the distresses in my life. And Your hope and dreams be the motivation to fulfill all that You have planned for me. Daily, step by step, until years by years, and then for eternity with You and all Your other children! Zechariah4:6, Hebrews 12:2, Matthew 14:27-33

everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29

Nehemiah 9                The children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads …and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God … and they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.

                … “Stand up and bless the Lord your God Forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, Which is exalted above all blessing and praise!” … We make a sure covenant and write it; … seal it.”

             Lord God, I share their rejoicing in the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem! I rejoice because You have repaired many walls in my heart and mind with Your Word and Holy Spirit! But there are some portions of me which are tattered, torn and wounded. Where I have allowed “foreigners”, meaning influences, affections, ideas and patterns which are not of You, to influence me and they have caused me pain and, in a way, destruction. Lord Jesus, I desire Truth in my innermost parts. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” — I make a covenant with You my Lord and Master. I will serve You Lord. Psalm51:6, Psalm 139:23-24, John 13:13

Acts 19                       And it happened, … that Paul … said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

                And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

              Lord Jesus I have been baptized with the fire of the Holy Spirit. But presently, I suffer under being yoked with weak-believers, double minded ones. Let me not quench You, Holy Spirit!! Nor Grieve You, Holy One!! May I be bold in Truth and Wise in Love – as You grow me, as You guide me to walk a narrower path up the steep precipice by faith, daily. I am warned to Not seek comfort with man, but soothing and healing from You, Lord God, the God of Truth. Amen. Psalm31:5

              It is sooo hard, so non-typical, to counter society!  But I have no choice if I want Real Joy – Tangible Hope – And a Real Future! Strengthen me Father. I am Your child.

Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. Psalm 31:5

The word of the LORD … saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Genesis 15:1

Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Nehemiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized