Tag Archives: blessing

1 Chronicles 18; James 5; Jonah 2; Luke 7

David fought battles, amassed wealth, and dedicated it to the Lord. Victory.

James warns the rich, whose bounty rots and testifies against them. Luxury or waste?

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. (James 5:1-6, NLT)

I think long on legacy, on the generous hand versus the hand that withholds. The things stored up that moth and rust destroy. The excess that rots and corrodes. I’ve thought long on what remains.

A Christmas Carol  by Charles Dickens fast became a favorite story of mine last year when I read it with my kids. We later saw a live performance of it, where I nearly cried throughout the entire production, starting with the first words they spoke. And even last night, my youngest asked if I wanted to join her and watching it on television with her–and I did. Old Ebenezer was fortunate to be able to change the end of his story, but many aren’t.

Lord, I don’t want to waste my life by holding on too tightly to things. You are Provider.

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (James 17-18, NLT)

I pray that I don’t fear or hoard, but that I understand and act upon a wealth of time, talent, treasure, and dedicate it to you. That is victory. Not in what is saved and left behind to rot, but what is given and lives on.

“Those who cling to worthless idols
    turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” Jonah 2:8-9, (NLT)

I’ve had time to ponder and understand a bit better what it means to live life poured out, after a year of emotional and physical exhaustion.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:41-50, NLT)

To know the Savior and know his love, to know he provides and cares for me, I can live open handed and not worry for lack–he holds my days, he directs my path. There is freedom in this.

Father God, no matter the day, let my praise always rise to you in thanks–in every circumstance. Thank you that you’re near to hear my prayers. Thank you for your love and forgiveness, your guidance and provision. You call me daughter, and I am held.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 15; Psalm 102; Isaiah 42; Revelation 12

Busyness. Full calendars. Early mornings. Late nights.  That’s the season I’m in right now.  It’s full and it’s good and it’s beautiful, but it’s still full.  Full can be tricky.  It is fulfilling and overflowing and magnificent but is also overwhelming and not empty and stressful sometimes.

In the midst of full, I often lose sight of God and his plan and purpose and his presence.  I just start going and doing and staying afloat and then all of the sudden, I forget the last time I had an encounter with God.  Sometimes in the full, quickly enter into darkness and dread when lose sight of God.  I see that played out here:

“Lord, hear my prayer!
Listen to my plea!
Don’t turn away from me
in my time of distress.
Bend down to listen,
and answer me quickly when I call to you.
For my days disappear like smoke,
and my bones burn like red-hot coals.
My heart is sick, withered like grass,
and I have lost my appetite.”

Psalm 102: 1-4 (NLT)

My heart becomes sick and my prayers become frantic, grasping for a glimpse of God when I finally slow down enough to realize that I haven’t seen him lately.

This feeling is legitimate and it’s my reality in this moment, but God’s truth is greater.  When I feel sick and lost and wandering and life gets hard, God reminds me that he is good and he is constant and that he blesses me when I obey his commands.

“But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever.
Your fame will endure to every generation.”

Psalm 102: 12 (NLT)

God constantly reminds me that he is constant and he will never change and he will never leave me.

“God, the Lord, created the heavens and stretched them out.
He created the earth and everything in it.
He gives breath to everyone,
life to everyone who walks the earth.
And it is he who says,
“I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.
I will take you by the hand and guard you,
and I will give you to my people, Israel,
as a symbol of my covenant with them.
And you will be a light to guide the nations.
    You will open the eyes of the blind.
You will free the captives from prison,
releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.

“I am the Lord; that is my name!
I will not give my glory to anyone else,
nor share my praise with carved idols.
Everything I prophesied has come true,
and now I will prophesy again.
I will tell you the future before it happens.”

Isaiah 42: 5-9 (NLT)

God reminds me that he is good and he is all-powerful and his promises are true.

“There should be no poor among you, for the Lord your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession.You will receive this blessing if you are careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. The Lord your God will bless you as he has promised. You will lend money to many nations but will never need to borrow. You will rule many nations, but they will not rule over you.”

Deuteronomy 15: 4-6 (NLT)

God promises to bless me if I follow his commands.

That is such a beautiful truth: to know that the Lord will bless me if I only obey.  Obeying God leads to blessing and blessings often lead me to full.  The full can be overwhelming but it is good.  I find myself in cycles of full and blessing that lead me to busy that then leads me to too fast and then I eventually pause and find God and he reminds me of who he is and leads me into obedience which brings me back to blessing and to full.

The most difficult thing for me is finding the balance and learning to find God in the full so I don’t get to the part of the cycle that is busy and overwhelming.  For now, I am rejoicing in the cycle, for every part teaches me more about God and grows my relationship with him.

Emma

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Revelation, Uncategorized

Genesis 48; Luke 1:39-80; Job 14; I Corinthians 2

I just found out recently that the famous fictional author, John Grisham, is a follower of Christ.  In the story I was reading they shared a defining moment in his spiritual journey and it went something like this —

Several years after graduating from Mississippi State University, when one of his classmates in law school told John he was terminally ill. Grisham asked him, “What do you do when you realize you are about to die?” The friend replied, “It’s real simple. You get things right with God, and you spend as much time with those you love as you can. Then you settle up with everybody else.”

The Old Testament is filled with moments of death only because those are also the time of blessings, just as Jacob’s upcoming passing in Genesis 48 caused him to reach out and bless Joseph’s sons.

Death was the reason Jesus came – and Jesus is the reason that John the Baptist came – two miracles expressed so beautifully in Luke 1 when Mary and Elizabeth greet each other.

Job expressed well what death looked like to him – what death looked like before Jesus. Sounds a lot like my favourite book, Ecclesiastes – few days, full of trouble, a shadow, and it does not continue. However, do not miss the hope – 

O that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! – Job 14:13 (NRSV)

With life as short as it is and with Jesus being our only hope, it is for this very reason that I love discipling others.  Discipleship keeps things simple.  How to take the profound truths of the gospel, Jesus death and resurrection, and make them simple enough for people to pass from death to life. Paul tried to capture this struggle himself  —

So that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:5 (NRSV)

I still remember my much older Dutch friend as I was leading him into the simple truths of what it meant to be a follower of Christ.  We approached the topic of giving.  He could not, he said if he did the heating bill would not be paid.  We prayed.  He decided on Sunday to trust God.  When we met a few weeks later I asked if the heating bill was paid – he said yes.  When I checked in again six months later he said that he made more money in the past six months than in the past year and a half.  He passed from death to life in his walk with God, became a passionate follower of Christ and chaired the missions board at his church for ten years because others needed to hear about Jesus. He kept it simple – let them discover they could trust Him – trust His promises and place their hope in Him. 

evanlaar

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Job, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized

Genesis 4, Matthew 4, Ezra 4, Acts 4

I love the word ‘blessing’ – I go around blessing everyone – even a database company I hired set my password up as ‘blessings’ because I blessed them so much – too funny. So you know I love the new year and all the possibilities I have too bless.

It is possible that I am consumed by blessings because I am very much aware of curses.  God was clear when promising Abraham that there were curses as well.  So when Cain was cursed with a mark, and some think it was wild and ferocious in nature that it rendered him an object of universal horror and avoidance, I believe that I can be an object that people can see the face of God.  Amy Grant came out with a song when I was a teenager, My Father’s Eyes, and it was a prayer of mine that others could see that I had my Father’s eyes.

So when Jesus arrived, it had to be His plan to further His kingdom – I believe that He came and aspired to world domination and to deliver His blessing.  The temptations in the wilderness all took aim at that aspiration, trying to make Him take a shortcut, adopt the methods of the curse. I love this quote from Marcus Dods that reflects why the road to blessing/redemption was through the path of suffering —

Satan whispered, “You have come to bind men in a universal brotherhood, but it is hopeless to effect this by acting on men individually and spiritually. Men do not care to be delivered from sin; they do not wish to be led back to God, and you will never make the world what you wish it. But make an earthly kingdom for yourself; that is possible; no mere shadowy imagination. The people are now waiting for a leader who will throw off for them the Roman yoke, and lead them to dominion.” We know it when we wish Christ had provided for his people earthly good as well as spiritual. Nothing but a preference for what is spiritual will secure us against the temptation to wish, either for ourselves or others, what constitutes the glory of this world. 

What does that look like for me?  I think that I keep forgetting about the universality of Christ and at the same time His uniqueness.  The Lausanne Covenant would probably be my version of the Nicene Creed when it comes to my missional statement. It is my book of Acts in covenant form.  In particular, my interest would be in Covenant #3 for today.

If Ezra could see the ‘kingdom’  that describes a king’s rule – and if Jesus is my example on how to lead – then my blessing is to decrease that He might be an increase and in truth, a blessing to a world entering 2017 with quite some uncertainty.  

Lord, may You  lead me and teach me  to be that blessing and to bring about your kingdom in 2017.

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Ezra, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Uncategorized

Genesis 12-15; Psalm 148; Mark 5

Things I learned about Abram today:

  • He was obedient. At 75 years old, when the Lord told him to move on, he did. Packed it all up and set out.
  • He acknowledged God. When he set up camp near the Canaanites, he put up memorial altars to God. (He set up another altar when he moved his camp to Hebron. He also gave a tenth of the goods he recovered to Melchizedek.)
  • He sinned. When Abram got to Egypt with Sarai, he was worried he’d be killed and devised a plan of his own to keep himself safe. It was a lie.
  • He valued peace and relationships. When he and Lot realize their families and animals are getting too big to stay together: “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives! The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.” Genesis 13:8b-9, NLT.
  • He is brave. When Lot is taken by warring kingdoms. Abram mobilizes his 318 men born to his household and pursues them. That’s 318 versus an army. Genesis 14:14-15. (And he is victorious!)
  • He was faithful and righteous. And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. Genesis 15:6, NLT.
  • He needed reassurance sometimes, just a mere 2 verses after being called faithful and righteous. But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?” Genesis 15:8, NLT.

Things I learned about the Lord today:

  • He always has a plan.I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2-3, NLT.
  • He loves (still) even when (Abram) sinned. God protected Abram (and Sarai!), despite Abram’s effort to take the situation by his own means. There’s no record of what else happened, but this: 17 But the Lord sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.” Genesis 12:17, NLT.
  • He reminds of his love and promise. 1After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession. 16 And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! 17 Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.” Genesis 13:14-17, NLT. (And later: Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” Genesis 15:1, NLT.) The Lord is trustworthy and faithful.
  • Even when He seems silent, He is there. There’s no mention of God instructing Abram how to defeat an army. But from this, even in the quiet of the Genesis 14 verses, we know He is there:

19 Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing:

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And blessed be God Most High,
    who has defeated your enemies for you.” Genesis 14: 19-20, NLT

  • Psalm 148 is a beautiful song of praise for all that the Lord has done.
  • And in Mark–He is merciful. Jesus approaches the tormented and scary demon-possessed man and heals him. 19 But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” Mark 5:19, NLT. And to the fearful woman who reached out to touch the Lord’s robe for healing: 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” Mark 5:34, NLT.

Wow, Lord. Just sitting here with Your Word today is a comfort. You remind me of who You are and what You can do. My heart is full of praise for You, and comforted by knowing You love me, no matter what. Thank You for Your protection, mercy, love, patience and plan. Thank You, that even against big odds, You can do bigger things. You are the peace that carries me.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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I Kings 15; II Chronicles 13-14; Titus 3

Titus 3:4,5 “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…”

I Kings 15:11, 14 “Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did his father David…his heart was loyal to the Lord all his days.”

II Chronicles 14:4 [Asa] “commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to observe the law and the commandment.”  He prayed, “Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude…”

It is one thing to read about God’s lovingkindness toward man and another thing to experience the benefits of living as one of God’s children.  One of the benefits that never cease to amaze me is the call from a friend when I desperately need someone to talk with. Getting bogged down with the details of making a living or performing an obligation can challenge my will power and my desire to share my burdens with others; yet having the support and godly encouragement of friends and family strengthens me to continue doing the next right thing.

Another benefit I experience comes from recognizing the extraordinary example of God’s provision seen through the ‘coincidences’ that turn around what appears to be a disaster on the horizon. Time after time when hope had seemed lost and my anxiety had heightened too dangerously close to unbelief, these unexpected gifts (sometimes even given through strangers) are dropped in my lap. These interventions outside of my influence remind me that God has no limits to what He can and will do for His children.  Such was the case recently when God provided at just the right time the financial means that were much needed. Without my knowledge, a blessing was waiting to be delivered, and all I knew to pray was that whatever happened, I would be dependent on God.

As special as these reminders are to me of acts of good works that demonstrate the love of God, I am always humbled that He chose to include me in His plan for doing good works. Though I try to live a life of obedience to God and the rulers and authorities of the land, my good intentions are often interrupted by the common sins to all.  Yet, even though I stumble instead of walking a perfect understanding of what God has planned, He makes it possible to receive His blessings through His most gracious gift of all – His great love for us. He loves us, and this not because of anything we have done right or wrong.  He loves us because He chooses to do so. He is the Lord who does not fret over the fears I cry out to Him, and He never withdraws His Spirit from me. He shows kindness, love, mercy, and power, and I just have to rest on Him even though I’ve done nothing to deserve His care.  How wonderful is this God we serve who loves us and who makes us “His heirs according the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7)

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1 Samuel 17, 1 Chronicles 2, Acts 12

Miracle or coincidence? Throughout history there has always been and will always be conflict between our human nature and God’s sovereignty. This passage in 1 Samuel is special to me. A year and half ago I was severely injured in a car accident that left me with a 11 spinal fractures and paralyzed from the neck down. When I arrived at the hospital, the MRI showed significant spinal cord damage at C3 which should have left me permanently paralyzed and requiring a ventilator to breathe. But just like the story of David and Goliath and Peter escaping imprisonment and death, the Lord had a plan.

You see, there is no way any of these stories are believable in the logical sense. Our human, finite knowledge always wants to take over and say, “you’re so lucky” or most often, “what a coincidence”. I know many believe in chance and luck and so sometimes reading the bible can seem far fetched. I have always believed what is written in the bible is 100% true and should be taken literally but I now understand it on an even deeper level.

The Lord reminded me of his sovereignty just days after our accident. This passage from 1 Samuel is underlined in my bible with a very wavy line. I can tell it was soon after the accident because my hand writing next to it is hard to read due to difficulty using my hands and arms. His sovereign hand that provides miracles and makes the impossible possible leaves behind  trail of stories and legacies and lessons to learn and live by…..

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord‘s, and he will give you into our hand.”

The shaky, almost illegible hand writing on the side of my bible reads this, “The Lord saved me before the doctors even touched me with their scalpel.” Just like with David, it was because of the hand of the Lord and his appointed angels that I am here today. He went before me and surrounded my family with many miracles that day and because of that, our family’s “story” was heard by thousands of people. God’s miracles are not just for us. Yes God wants good for us and to bless us abundantly but it’s not all about us it’s about His great, Kingdom plan.

Sometimes we can’t see God’s sovereign hand while we are actually walking through hard times. It’s  when we look back- and we must look back- that we can see his angel armies were surrounding us all along. With each experience, our faith is strengthened for the next time and the next time and the time after that. I am sure that David’s and Peter’s confidence and faith in the Lord grew with their experiences and allowed them to be bold as they ruled and preached the gospel. Let’s not take things for granted and chalk it up to coincidence or luck. The battle is the Lord’s and we must give him the glory

kateredding

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