Tag Archives: celebration

Exodus 10-12; Ephesians 2

Captive 430 years.

40 The people of Israel had lived in Egypt for 430 years. 41 In fact, it was on the last day of the 430th year that all the Lord’s forces left the land. 42 On this night the Lord kept his promise to bring his people out of the land of Egypt. So this night belongs to him, and it must be commemorated every year by all the Israelites, from generation to generation. (Exodus 12:40, NLT)

A ruler’s hardened heart.

Signs of such magnitude, so all will know.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Return to Pharaoh and make your demands again. I have made him and his officials stubborn so I can display my miraculous signs among them. I’ve also done it so you can tell your children and grandchildren about how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and about the signs I displayed among them—and so you will know that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 10:1-2, NLT)

Modern day captive.

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. (Ephesians 2:1-3, NLT)

Modern day hardened hearts.

Signs of such magnitude, so all will know.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:4-10, NLT)

Father, Savior, King of my heart–I’m grateful for your work in my life, your love and mercy. Celebrating you, praising you. Saved by grace. Created anew. Grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 19; Psalm 106; Isaiah 46; Revelation 16

When I am most likely to feel far away from God is the time that God is closer than my shadow. I experienced this phenomenon on a recent visit with family.  Though I cannot know what image I project around my family, the distance between us in miles and frequency of visits causes us all to dance around each other carefully. Usually I do the Christian be-bop, happy-go-lucky dance with praise and testimony, smiling broadly. However, these past few years of grieving the loss of my daughter have pasted me in the wallflower position when it comes to witnessing. I know the truth of Christ; just am finding it hard to speak without being spoken to. In one of two direct ‘blessed be’ beatitudes by Christ in Revelation, Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame,” (Rev 16:15).

Be ready for the celebration dance.

Bring family and neighbors to the dance.

Deuteronomy 19:14 is a warning not to remove a neighbor’s landmark. That is, no one should take territory from a family or cheat them out of the land inheritance that God gave them. I wonder how God views us, His people, when we go after our brothers and sisters in Christ with the intent of poking holes in their theology, laying burdens of legalistic traditions and perfection expectations on them. Have we moved boundaries to make room for rigid opinions?

“Nevertheless, He regarded their affliction, when He heard their cry; And for their sake He remembered His covenant, And relented according to the multitude of His mercies. He also made them to be pitied by all those who carried them away captive,” (Psalm 106:44-46).

Choose to be carried when dancing is impossible.

I suppose I could have sought other conversations or indulged in meaningless activities while visiting family, but a funny thing about me is that being genuine when face-to-face with someone is intensely important to me. No surprise then, that God placed gentle words on my lips to speak His love and mercies to my family.  But first, He spoke these words to me:

“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb; Even to your old age, I am He, And even to your gray hairs, I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you, (Isaiah 46:3-4).

Hold His hands and let Him lead the dance!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

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

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Ecclesiastes 1-3; Psalm 43; 2 Timothy 1

 

Celebrate life! That is what the wisest man in history, King Solomon, determined was the best a man could hope for during his sojourn in this world. The simple things of life, as my elders used to say, are what make us happy. Yet divorced from the love of Christ, the fellowship of the saints, and the worship of the Creator of life, even the simple things fail to give pleasure.

Have you wondered how it is that what we yearn for and cannot wait to experience comes slowly, yet passes into memory so quickly? Even our thoughts and feelings, musings, and worries, ebb and flow daily, yearly. I’m a once in a while journal writer, and when I stumble across an old journal and read what at that time was important to me, I have noticed a pattern or theme. My concerns for family, for instance. My prayers for each and my personal desires. Not so different today, really.

What is most evident in all that I’ve written is this tension between the world and me. How I experience living this life. In fact, the weakness written between the lines to God in my journals and prayers illustrate fears and disappointments, usually followed by thanksgiving for spiritual answers. Miraculous answers, tender comforts, gentle corrections.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. To know God, to be reminded that I am a child of the Almighty, and to see my purpose on earth is bound with the life of Christ frees me to celebrate life with gratitude.

On this 4th of July we celebrate our freedom as a nation. God, thank you that I was born in America.

On this day we celebrate our differences from state to state in a United States. Lord, thank you for Your unending, amazing creation of soul after soul, different yet tied together by a common thread of humanity.

On this July 4th we celebrate the simple things of life – church, family, friendships, national pride. Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for Your mighty work of salvation that offers eternal life where the real celebration begins.

I celebrate life today and can’t wait for the day when the party never ends!

Happy 4th of July!

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2 Chronicles 29-31; 1 Corinthians 8

2015 is the year our family went gluten-free. A child’s Celiac diagnosis was an overnight household and lifestyle transformation. I spent a large part of this summer reading up on the disease, discovering new ways of cooking, and brainstorming new approaches to meals.

***

A good friend’s suggestion of a book study called Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst seemed very unappealing since a brief description revealed it had to do with food and weight. But I checked it out from the library, and skimming over it turned to reading it, which turned to loving it.

***

I went to share a chicken salad recipe with another friend, who mentioned she was starting a (nutrition-focused) healthy eating plan. Suddenly, before I even understood what I was saying, I was ready to join her.

***

My Bible reading today was about a rededication of a temple to the Lord and ridding it of idols. It was about worshiping the Lord with thanksgiving and remembrance, with celebration and sacrifices. And, yeah, it was about food.

***

Lord, I’m learning about abundant life through you. All the things that were temporary pleasures or distractions are nothing compared to the joy I have in you. Thank you, God, for caring for me to show me and correct me and guide me to newness–and freedom.

Courtney (66books365)

(I did not receive compensation of any sort for reading or mentioning Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.)

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2 Chronicles 29; Revelation 15; Zechariah 11; John 14

I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire. All of those who had won the victory over the beast and his idol and over the number of his name were standing by the sea of glass. They had harps that God had given them. They sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:

“You do great and wonderful things,

Lord God Almighty.

Everything the Lord does is right and true,

King of the nations.

Everyone will respect you, Lord,

and will honor you.

Only you are holy.

All the nations will come

and worship you,

because the right things you have done

are now made known.” Revelation 15:2-4 (NCV)

I’ve got to admit. I’ve been having a difficult time ‘getting into’ the Christmas season this year. It is tough to be listening to holiday songs that are singing about the snow and the cold when it is in the low- to-mid 90’s during the day. It is tough to be decorating a tiny, fake tree with tacky plastic ornaments when sweat is rolling down my back from the heat. It is tough knowing that my extended family and my friends will all be gathering together while I am feeling lonely on the opposite side of the planet missing everyone, missing the holiday rituals I grew up with. It is tough knowing that tomorrow, instead of spending time with our little family of four celebrating, we will be spending the day at church ministering to the widows and orphans.

Oh.My.Gosh! Even as I write this I am feeling selfish and shallow. I know that songs I sing in the season, trees that I decorate, and family and friends gathering together isn’t remotely what Christmas is really about. I need an attitude check…Right! Now!

I adjusted my Pandora station and changed the holiday music I was playing to carols that honor Christ – O Come, O Come Emanuel, The First Noel, Joy to the World, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, Angels We Have Heard on High, Away In A Manger, Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy, Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus, O Holy Night (my all-time favorite), etc. I spent the first half hour with tears in my eyes, singing lyrics celebrating Jesus, remembering the true reason for the season.

Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me…I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me…Those who know my commands and obey them are the ones who love me, and my Father will love those who love me. I will love them and will show myself to them.” John 14:1, 6, & 21 (NCV)

I celebrate Christmas because it is the day all believers celebrate His birth. I celebrate Christmas to recollect His life, His miracles while on Earth. But most of all, I celebrate Christmas to remember the gift He gave to me. The real gift was, and is, and will always be His death and resurrection, His sacrifice, His grace, His mercy, His love. It is a gift that I don’t deserve at all, but it is a gift that He gave to me willingly and without reservation. All He asks is for me to trust and obey.

Hezekiah said, “Listen to me, Levites. Make yourselves ready for the Lord’s service, and make holy the Temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove from the Temple everything that makes it impure…My sons, don’t waste any more time. The Lord chose you to stand before him, to serve him, to be his servants, and to burn incense to him.” 2 Chronicles 29:5; 11 (NCV)

And so, I choose to offer myself as a living sacrifice, good and pleasing to the Lord, because He chose me for this work. I will make myself, my heart ready for His purposes. I will honor Him by honoring others. I will serve Him, by serving the widows and the orphans. I will minister God’s never-ending love to them in the spirit of giving freely, as I have freely been given. I will lay down the Christmas customs of my childhood and alongside my husband and my daughters, create new traditions that will teach my children the real meaning of Christmas and strengthen our faith in the Joy of Our Salvation.

Yesappa, Thank You for coming to set me free from my fears and release me from my sins. Thank You for giving me rest and bringing joy to my longing heart. Thank You for coming to earth to taste my sadness and to give me gladness. Thank You for being my Redeemer, my Shepherd, my Friend. You were born to deliver me. You were born a child, and yet a King. You were born to reign in me forever, to rule in my heart alone.* Thank You for showing Yourself in the midst of my bad attitude and helping make change in me. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOURS!

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

*Based on the lyrics of “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” by Charles Wesley

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Genesis 49, Luke 2, Job 15, 1 Corinthians 3

Read at – http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2049,%20Luke%202,%20Job%2015,%201%20Corinthians%203&version=NKJV

Genesis 49   And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days:  … All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing.

            Lord God, my father gave me his blessing before he died. My mother, who is aging, gave me her blessing, too. Lord God, You have had me bless my children and pronounce to them the good which You have in store for them, and we eagerly await Your unfolding of their futures. Yet Father, the Greatest of all Blessings is what You bestowed on me the millisecond that You adopted me so You would be my Father! You gave me an inheritance that will never spoil, You give my Your promises in Your Word that I am to live by, and You made plans for me and are continually unfolding my purpose. – and the One Who died to give me my blessing was You, Lord Jesus Christ. You gave me Yourself, my Very Great Reward!  (1)

Luke 2            Joseph also went, …with Mary… And she brought forth her firstborn Son, …and laid Him in a manger.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold,… suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:  “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

So the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

And behold, there was a man, Simeon, … it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. … he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: For my eyes have seen Your salvation… A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”

Anna, a prophetess, … coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

At the Feast of the Passover… when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem … the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. …Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. …And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” … And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

           The Father with His Son – Lord God Almighty, You were SO excited and proud at the birth of Your Baby Boy Jesus!! You had the whole sky explode with Brilliant Angelic Lights and Music!! You inspired the shepherds to leave their flocks running to greet Your Son for His arrival to earth! And they told everyone about Your Special Son!! Simeon was overjoyed to see the Promised Messiah, just as You had told in a preliminary notification! Anna was excited to give You thanks and tell everyone about Jesus Who would bring people redemption!   

            You nurtured Your Beloved Son Jesus by Your Grace! And Your Son loved You so much that He wanted to be right in the midst of You and Your Work! He had been doing it already since the teachers were astonished by His understanding of You and Your Word! And You continued to bless Your Son Jesus!

            Father, You treat me and all of Your children, even those yet to be adopted by You, No differently! You are overwhelmed with excited anticipation for the time when we say “Yes!” to surrender to have Your Father-Headship over us! You send us Your people to encourage and build us up in what You say about us! You always talk to us, though we don’t hear or follow You as well as Your Son Jesus. And You put Your Grace and Favor on us – until You take us home to be with You permanently. (1) (2)

Job 15           Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said: “Should a wise man answer with empty knowledge,…Yes, you cast off fear, And restrain prayer before God. … Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; Yes, your own lips testify against you.

            Sadly, the very words that Eliphaz told to Job were words that Eliphaz should have said to himself. Later the Lord God told Eliphaz,My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore … offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” Job 42:7-8

            Too many times I have thought one way when the opposite was true, and very sadly I have spoken it. Lord God I have incurred Your wrath because of it! You called me to repent and learning from it. (Thank You for your Mercy Lord!) Yet many times, You, Lord God have held me shut to silence! Thank You!! I am always learning because I am sooo faulty!

             You tell me to discern, not condemn. To judge rightly by fruits and to look for the Progression of growth not Perfection. Judgment, meaning understanding and analysis, for the purpose of pointing people to You is good. Judgment, meaning condemning, is pointing them to hell, which is not good. Yes, Lord God, I know people are going to hell without change – Ah Ha! But that is where You come in!! Pointing to The Savior Who saves us from our sins that condemn us – that is Success Your Way!! Bravo my King Jesus!! (3)

1 Corinthians 3       “I fed you with milk and not with solid food .. for you are still carnal.

            God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers

            Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

            Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. … And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

            Lord God, I had been on milk for years! Until You called me to participate in a weekly in-depth Bible study where Your Word changed my heart, thoughts, perceptions, emotions and actions! – Your subtle and powerful work of Your Holy Spirit changed me from the inside out – while I was unconscious of the changes. All I knew was that I was in Your Potter’s Hand.

            Lord Jesus Christ, You have made me Your slave worker. I am SO honored, and especially to be a co-laborer with So many of Your fabulous, humble servant-children! Please keep their temples, and mine, clean and burning bright with Your Love and abhor the sins of the flesh! There is TOO much harvest to reap to waste workers or cause people to turn away from You. We are but dust and You are our Amazing Potter. You mix me with Your Holy Spirit living water, reach down deep within me and change me in places where no one can reach or fathom. I am completely powerless in the process – except I can yield, grieve the loss (of whatever) and be cleansed, renewed and newly empowered for Your next adventure of work under You! (4)

Bible Insights –

1-  2 Corinthians 5:17, John 3:5-8, 15-17, 1 Peter 1:23, John 1:12-13, Ephesians 1:1-14, Romans 8:14-17, Galatians 4:4-7, 1 Peter 1:3-5, 2 Corinthians 1:20, Jeremiah 29:11, Genesis 15:1

2- Luke 15:3-7; Acts 20:32; Jude 1:20-25; 1 Corinthians 14:31; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 10:25; John 10:27-30; Zephaniah 3:17; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 1:6; John 14:1-4; Revelation 21-22

3- James 1:19-20, Jude 1:23

4- Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3; John 4:34, Isaiah 64:8; Isaiah 49:16; Romans 1:1; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Galatians 1:10; Romans 6:22; Galatians 4:7; Ephesians 6:5-8; Philippians 1:1; Philippians 2:7; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 1 Peter 2:16; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1:1; John 4:35; Psalm 103:14; Psalm 119:25, John 4:13-14, John 7:38, John 4:34

Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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2 Chronicles 29, 30; Acts 19:21-41

Invitations, specially delivered.

I’m sensitive to words. This scene in 2 Chronicles 30 choked me up.

God invites: come back.

It’s the same invitation he offers the world today. He is gracious and merciful, still.

“O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he will return to the few of us who have survived the conquest of the Assyrian kings. Do not be like your ancestors and relatives who abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and became an object of derision, as you yourselves can see. Do not be stubborn, as they were, but submit yourselves to the Lord. Come to his Temple, which he has set apart as holy forever. Worship the Lord your God so that his fierce anger will turn away from you.

“For if you return to the Lord, your relatives and your children will be treated mercifully by their captors, and they will be able to return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful. If you return to him, he will not continue to turn his face from you.” 2 Chronicles 30:6-9 NLT

Most of the people laughed at the runners and made fun of them. (I think I hear them laugh and mock today.) And this is where the tears sting–his loving, gracious invitation rejected.

But for those who did accept, joy spills in celebration. People clamoring for God, rule breakers and unpurified.

17 Since many of the people had not purified themselves, the Levites had to slaughter their Passover lamb for them, to set them apart for the Lord. 18 Most of those who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not purified themselves. But King Hezekiah prayed for them, and they were allowed to eat the Passover meal anyway, even though this was contrary to the requirements of the Law. For Hezekiah said, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon those 19 who decide to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors, even though they are not properly cleansed for the ceremony.” 20 And the Lord listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people. 2 Chronicles 30:17-20

I see Jesus all over these words. He sets us apart. He tells us, “Come as you are.” Even though, in our own effort we aren’t properly cleansed (righteous, perfect), his blood–his sacrifice–our Passover Lamb, makes us so. He hears prayers. He heals.

That invitation in the hands of runners today, runners of faith. God calls, “Come to me. Worship me. I am gracious and merciful.”

Joy spills.

Courtney (66books365)

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