Tag Archives: blessings

Genesis 6-8; Psalm 104; Mark 3

As I think about my first 2018 post, I look back on 2017 knowing right from the very first month that God was going to take care of me and my family through a difficult year.  It was tough on quite a few different fronts.  Yet Jesus walked with me in each and every day.  Sometimes I think – why does it matter that I love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind? At the end of such a year and the reflecting on this new year, it matters a lot – I believe I am giving God a window to be a blessing in my life.

But the Lord was pleased with Noah,  and this is the story about him. Noah was the only person who lived right and obeyed God. – Genesis 6:8-9 CEV

As much as blessings are great, and they are – for they are visible expressions of God caring for me and others can see that I have His favour – promises are even better.  God’s promises are rock solid and every one of the them points to me the incredible and detailed expressions of just how much God cares. They are only visible when I am confident in them and people around me can see that they demonstrate in my life that God is a priority.

Now you have set boundaries,
    so that the water will never
    flood the earth again. – Psalm 104:9 CEV

I mean, would I forgive the people who hung me on a cross?  Can I forgive those in leadership over me that do not understand the abuse they had out every day?  What about family members who just want to hurt because they cannot get their own way?  Yes, 2017 had some bad memories and I know God wants me to forgive and many I have and will probably still forgive in 2018.

Jesus was angry as he looked around at the people. Yet he felt sorry for them because they were so stubborn. Then he told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did, and his bad hand was healed. – Mark 3:5 CEV

Yes, my love affair is with God.  It is His Holy Spirit that sustains me, heals me, cares for me, extends the power of His grace and peace to me and like a hen gathers me under His wings.  Wow – can I do that for those who have hurt me and who have been stubborn? Yes, because the promises of God that are true for me are true for them.  Looking forward to a great 2018 being more like Jesus.

Lord, I am yours.  Let me demonstrate You are my priority this year. I want to care as much as You do. Let people look at me and say I have my Father’s eyes. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

1 Kings 22; 1 Thessalonians 5; Daniel 4; Psalms 108, 109

Our credit card number was stolen and charged fraudulently (the second time this year). My husband texted me early yesterday morning to ask if I had been shopping for shoes. No? He cancelled the card, which instantly redirected the day I planned.

Instead, I set about local tasks–one including tracking down the cleared title to my dad’s truck so we can sell it for his estate. It meant going to the MVA, which I had been putting off for months because–it’s the MVA.

I explained my situation to the first clerk, who told me I’d have to purchase a replacement and they would mail it to his house (out of town and the mail service forwarded). A second clerk said the mail couldn’t be forwarded and I’d have to go to the main office (much further away) and get it there. Then they handed me a wait ticket to meet with someone else.

I explained to this third helper what my situation was, and reiterated for confirmation what I was told at the first desk. She typed some things into her computer. A Whitney Houston song (I Wanna Dance With Somebody) came on their music system and my daughter pulled at my arm.

“Mom!” she said, and smiled. I sing this song to my dog almost daily, and she dances and prances for a treat she knows is coming. I told the clerk as much as my daughter and I grinned large–and the clerk smiled and giggled with us too.

The next thing I know, the clerk steps away to talk to a manager and comes back with a freshly printed, cleared title and we’re on our way.  (Thank you, Lord!) There were other big tasks to complete locally, and we got them moving along. (Only You, Jesus!)

When I got home, for the first time in many weeks, I felt lighter. (So grateful, God.)

There have been several times lately that God has put an abrupt stop to my plans. And when he does, I feel he makes a different way available to me. With a day that started with a cancelled card, I actually got more accomplished than if I’d been able to proceed with my original plan.

I read it twice this morning, once here and once on an Instagram image:

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)

This year has felt overwhelming to me with the tasks and emotions associated with grief and loss. At times I’ve felt a real pressure of a weight upon my shoulders and heart. However, all along, I have sensed God’s hand involved in the details, in ways I never imagined. Even to the way he grabbed my attention with a song yesterday, like he was saying, “Pay attention. I don’t want you to miss this.” Title in hand, same day. And it didn’t stop there.

Lord, I know you are moving in my life and in my sister’s life. Thank you for people who help us. Yesterday was a miracle and blessing from start to finish, even though it seemed a bummer beginning. Thanks for focusing my wandering, worried mind on you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized

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 12; Matt. 11; Nehemiah 1; Acts 11

Merry Christmas; Happy New Year; Glad Tidings; Joy to the world – songs and cards and greetings for a season. Many of us wistfully desire to keep holiday smiles, generosity, and sentimentality the whole year through. Life interrupts. We’re pulled up short. Then we wonder, “Where did my joy go?”

Commercialized industry urges us to pack up our Christmas joy, stuff it in the attic for next year, and wait obediently for the next brief holiday to hit the shelves. I have to admit that I keep my Christmas decorations up long after the New Year’s party is over, perhaps fearing I will box away joy leaving home and heart as void as my depleted checkbook. I was asked the other day if I am someone who sees the glass half empty or half full, and I could only stutter something unintelligible about relativity. So I prayed, “God, teach me where to find Your joy.” I think He took great pleasure in answering right away.

In Genesis 12:2, God promises Abraham that all the families of the earth will be blessed through him, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” Joy can be found in God’s smile and in the warmth of His pleasure. Even before Abraham left his countrymen to follow God’s plan, God was happy with him. I, too, can enjoy the blessings of an intimate relationship with God.

But fear and anxiety can steal joy. Over the last six months, the grandson of a good friend has been undergoing cancer treatment at St. Jude’s. I marvel to read his testimony of courage and strength, penned by his Christian mother. She points to the blessings spoken by Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:29. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Joy can be found in that invitation, for fear and anxiety melt away when burdens are laid at the feet of Jesus.

Joy also comes from knowing that God looks and listens when we pray. Nehemiah 1:5 records the confidence in Nehemiah’s prayers. “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments; please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night…” Day or night, in triumph or tragedy, even in the midst of confession there is joy in that the God of the universe sees and hears me and, most of all, answers prayers!

So when I look for joy, I need not venture far. I can see the grace of God in me, in my friends, in the church, and in the salvation of each new Christian. I want to be like Barnabas, the New Testament missionary, when he responded to Gentiles receiving the gospel message. Acts 11:22-24 says, “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” Joy does not end with the passing of a season or the storage of the Baby in a manger. Nor is my cup half empty or half full. For my  cup is overflowing with joy from the daily blessings of a good Father, divine rest from heavy burdens, and unending grace in the presence of Christ Jesus. Wouldn’t you like to drink this cup of joy?

Cheers to us all!

Janet (jansuwilkinson) All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition. (2002)

After writing, today, I listened to this sermon delivered by the son-in-law of my good friend. What a delight to hear a similar message (much better delivered, too!) about joy.

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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

Deuteronomy 28; Mark 15:27-47

I have a hard time convincing some of the people I talk to that God is a loving Father who desires to give us the very best of His love through salvation, spiritual gifts, material gain, family, friends, honorable positions, victory over enemies, and just through being called His own people.  Even though anyone can read these promises in the 15 verses of Deuteronomy 28:1-15, there follows 42 verses of curses outlined by God that a majority of people identify Him with – just waiting to act out these curses on them. To be honest, when I read these curses, I shudder to think the God that I am in love with could write such horrible pronouncements. Take verses 53-57 which describe how when a town is besieged by the enemy that the fathers will eat the flesh of their own children; what could be worse? Yet, history of Israel reveals that this event actually did happen during a dark period of turning away from God.

So why does God spend only 15 lines of conversation to woo us, only to pound out 42 verses of what will happen if we try to walk away?  I think the answer lies in the story of the Crucifixion.

If we focus on the agony of the Cross which Jesus Christ suffered, we may understand the hellish torture that he withstood until all was accomplished.  The purpose of the Crucifixion, as planned by God, agreed and performed by Jesus Christ, and energized by the Holy Spirit was for Jesus to take on all these curses of disobedience for our sakes.

I hear this in the description of Christ dying on the Cross as told by Mark. Christ called out several times in a loud voice.  He did not say, “Oh, my hands, my feet, my head – they hurt!”  He cried out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!” He could barely speak due to the swelling of His tongue, so He cried out, “I thirst.” When He said, “It is finished,” he did not whisper it, but “Jesus cried out with a loud voice” before breathing His last.

At least once a year, I watch the Mel Gibson movie version of the Crucifixion called The Passion. I do this, not because I enjoy watching the re-enactment of this traumatic event, but because I choose to shock my soul and mind with the reality of my Savior’s terrible death. The curses that I want to hurl at the mob, the false religious leaders, the Roman military, and the sarcastic individuals that dogged Him issue out of my helplessness to do anything about what happens to the Son of God.  Yet we are told that Jesus Christ voluntarily submitted to the torture, the travail of spirit, and the moment of earthly death.  He laid down His life when He was ready. We hear that even Pilate wondered how He could be dead so soon (Mark 15:44).

So even though it may be hard to understand how the supernatural love of God could utter the curses of old, I recognize that these curses and more, including the ones I brought on myself, were experienced in this Son of Man-Son of God who cried out in a loud voice.  A voice loud enough to be heard by the crowd.  A voice loud enough to split the veil in the Jewish synagogue from top to bottom.  A voice loud enough to wipe out the curses of old, restore the human soul, and usher in this age of Grace.  Grace to the very ones who deserved all the curses. If you fear the God who told us we would experience the consequences of disobedience through these curses, remember that this same God took on all these curses for us the day that Jesus died on the Cross.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Deuteronomy, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament

1 Kings 3; Ephesians 1; Ezekiel 34; Psalms 83, 84

While he was at Gibeon, the Lord appeared to him in a dream during the night. God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You were very kind to your servant, my father David. He obeyed you, and he was honest and lived right. You showed great kindness to him when you allowed his son to be king after him. Lord my God, now you have made me, your servant, king in my father’s place. But I am like a little child; I don’t know how to do what must be done. I, your servant, am here among your chosen people, and there are too many of them to count. I ask that you give me a heart that understands, so I can rule the people in the right way and will know the difference between right and wrong. Otherwise, it is impossible to rule this great people of yours.”

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked this. So God said to him, “You did not ask for a long life, or riches for yourself, or the death of your enemies. Since you asked for wisdom to make the right decisions, I will do what you asked. I will give you wisdom and understanding that is greater than anyone has had in the past or will have in the future. I will also give you what you did not ask for: riches and honor. During your life no other king will be as great as you. If you follow me and obey my laws and commands, as your father David did, I will also give you a long life.” 1 Kings 3:5-14 (NCV)

 

I am like a little child; I don’t know how to do what must be done. Give me a heart that understands…

There are so many times in my life when this has been my exact sentiment. There are times when I don’t know how to manage in the circumstances of the moment. And, times when I don’t understand how to maneuver within the vast differences between the culture I was raised in and the Indian culture in which I live.

And yet, time and again, I walk through life thinking that I have all of the answers, that I know how to accomplish everything, manage everything. I neglect to ask God (or anyone else) for help. I go at it alone, and in my pride, I often take a fall. Then, picking myself off the floor, nursing my scrapes and bruises, I turn to God, remembering that His wisdom is much greater than mine.

I see this duplicated in my toddler. She is 2 ¾, going on 23. She thinks she knows it all, acts like she has got it all together. But even she comes crying when she realizes she can’t do it by herself, when she can’t reach the play dough, or when she has spilled the juice while trying to pour it into her toy tea cup, or when she has climbed up onto the washing machine and can’t figure out how to get down without falling.

And like God is ALWAYS there for me, I am there for her. I am there to pick her up when she falls, there to kiss her booboos and wipe her tears. I am there to help her learn from her mistakes and gain greater knowledge for her future endeavors. I am there to teach her to look to God for wisdom, instead of looking only to herself.

I know in my heart that God will never leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6) no matter the situation. I believe that it is God’s desire to give good things (Luke 11:13), like His wisdom, His understanding, and His discernment through Holy Spirit. Just as Solomon asked for those things when God asked him what he wanted, it is important that I also ask. When I ask, He will give me those things as well (John 16:23; 1 John 5:14).

When I seek Him, I take the focus off of myself and put it back in the right place – on God. When I humble myself before Him, there is no more room for pride. I am able to accept His gifts and I am able to be used by Him.

My prayer for myself, my children, and for you:

I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you. I always remember you in my prayers, asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you will know him better. I pray also that you will have greater understanding in your heart so you will know the hope to which he has called us and that you will know how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised his holy people. And you will know that God’s power is very great for us who believe. That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the dead and put him at his right side in the heavenly world. Ephesians 1:16-20 (NCV)

 

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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Deut. 26, Ps. 117, 118, Isa. 53, Matt. 1

What’s in a name?

I remember just before my two daughters were born, the arduous process of selecting just the right name for our unseen treasures. First, a list of names was created and thought was given to which sounded right. But, I recall one night having a dream… perhaps I was overthinking the name selection process. In the dream, I was asked what the baby’s name was, I couldn’t speak… and I remember having a handful of index cards intended to hold the names being considered, and when I offered the cards as possible options, each card was blank. It was then that I realized that this name selection process had a much deeper meaning… that perhaps we needed to consider something more than how the name sounded. After researching a number of names for their meaning, it became clear that there was a definite connection between the name given to a child and the destiny of that child. God’s Word speaks of the tremendous power of the tongue. As such, the choice of names for our children has the power to impact their journey in life more than we can imagine!

Names were especially important to the Israelites. Often times throughout the Bible, babies were named to symbolize events surrounding their birth or for prophetic reasons affecting a circle of influence wider than one family, even as great as an entire nation. While reviewing the passages for today’s posting, I found it interesting that Matthew began his Gospel with a long list of names leading up to Jesus’ birth. Going through the genealogy had me wanting to get past the long, unpronounceable names in order to get to what I thought was the real reason of Matthew 1. I learned that genealogy should not be scanned too casually as, in this case, it led to the crescendo in the announcement of our Savior’s birth and naming.

The genealogy in Matthew 1 reveals a very unique and important slice of history… many generations who waited for their Messiah to come. Finally, in one unassuming night in Bethlehem, our Savior was born. Of all the names God could have chosen, He selected one with exceptional meaning for His precious Son… Immanuel… God is with us! (Matthew 1:23) With the simple act of naming His Son, God sent a message to His people that he would be with them forever. Immanuel wasn’t just a name, but a promise, a hope, a fulfillment of prophecy, and the beginning of a legacy… the turning point of eternity.

Even in the midst of terrible tragedy revealed in Isaiah 53, the name of Jesus evoked great hope over death. The spikes that pierced His wrist left holes that He filled with the souls of those who accept His salvation. And in a beautiful twist of irony, those holes made it possible for Him to fill up our emptiness with His wholeness. We are all living in Immanuel’s legacy… today, many generations after Jesus received His name, God is still with us. Even the psalmist attests to this and praises God, calling upon us to give thanks to God for the grace and blessings bestowed on all of us… that there is a Redeemer that is with us always (Ps. 117, 118)!

So… what’s in a name? When it comes to Jesus’ name… everything!

Sweet Jesus… with the simple speaking of your name… thank you for being the hope of the world. May my life point others to its meaning for them… Amen!

P.S. What’s in a name in my world? My daughter Brianna’s name means strong… a name characterized with a deep inner desire to inspire others in a higher cause. If any of you know my daughter, you know how true this is of her… incredibly strong willed; recently graduated and certified as a teacher, wanting to devote her life to teaching and inspiring elementary age children… what better calling than to positively influence the mind of a child. Julia, has a name characterized as youthful with a desire for order and physical creativity. Not sure I agree with the order characteristic, but her creative outlook on life helps to balance an otherwise overly analytical family!

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