Tag Archives: change

Genesis 2, Ezra 2, Matthew 2, Acts 2

I am always excited for a new year to begin. It’s a fresh start. I am ready for change and willing to open my ears and my heart to listen to the Lord.

It is the Holy Spirit who speaks to his children and moves them…..

The Spirit made man with his breath.

“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Genesis 2:7 (ESV)

The Spirit moved the people of Israel out of exile and back to their land.

“Now these were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried captive to Babylonia. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town. The whole assembly together was 42,360, besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337, and they had 200 male and female singers.” Ezra 2:1, 64-65 (ESV)

The Spirit moved the wise men to the Savior and then moved the Savior away from danger.

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”              Matthew 2:1-2, 13 (ESV)

The Spirit moved in mighty power

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.  Acts 2:1, 38-39, 41 (ESV)

Where would we be if the people had not listened and obeyed the Holy Spirit? It’s a glaring reminder to me that they Holy Spirit speaks to his people and moves his people to accomplish his will and purpose.

 

Dear Lord, thank you for your beautifully woven Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to speak and to move me both physically and spiritually. Help me to be watching, waiting and listening for your still small voice and give me courage to obey your whispers. Amen.

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2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36; Psalm 126; 1 Peter 3

I spoke to a friend about a difficult time in my life from years ago that I thought could find a parallel an experience she shared. When we carry burdens we weren’t meant to carry, they can break us. And if they don’t break us, perhaps they hinder us from being effective at all.

First Peter 3:1-2, NLT,  talks to wives:

In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.

To husbands, in 1 Peter 3:7, NLT:

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

To all believers:

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. 10 For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
    and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
11 Turn away from evil and do good.
    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
    and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
    against those who do evil.”

Suffering for Doing Good

13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong! 1 Peter 3:8-17, NLT.

From the events in the world down to a child’s poor attitude, there is nothing I can do to change things outside of my own thoughts, words, and actions–and isn’t that challenge enough? This is an opportunity to worship Christ as Lord of my life–and an opportunity to share my hope as a believer.

Lord, I want to keep my eyes on you and my focus on your kingdom. Certainly an enemy is bent on destruction–and always has been. Your word tells us to be of one mind. Oh, when things are out of my control, I want my heart to be tender, my attitude to be humble, and my retaliation to be a blessing.

Yours, Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 21-23; Hebrews 8

A friend stopped by yesterday for a mug of hot tea. My house was chilly because I had been out all morning and didn’t get any fires started. Outside–rain all day. We chatted fast because she was pressed for time.

In the past, she had come by for a summer swim, but this was a first for her to sit inside my house and look around. She asked about where we used to live, and we talked about the differences: field life versus woods life. We talked about God and His orchestration of events that bring us where we are.

“That [moving season] was a dark time in my life,” I said to her. “But it was the closest I had been to the Lord.”

“33 It was I who rescued you from the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 22:33, NLT.

She and I looked out the living room window at the trees around my house. We talked about the seasons, each one beautiful in itself. The trees are stunning to me, even in winter.

I thought about life seasons and change. I thought about faith walks and a future unknown. I thought about His Word all the days through all the years–how it has fed me and strengthened me, comforted me and spoken to me about Him, about love, about truth.

10 But this is the new covenant I will make
    with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
    and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people. Hebrews 8:10, NLT. (referring to Jeremiah 31)

Lord, thank you. Thank you for hard days, for great days, for rainy winter days. Thank you for a window full of wonder–of the things you’ve done, and the things you will do. Thank you for showing me through your word how I can and that I can praise you every step of the way.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 22-24; Psalm 134; John 8

“He who is without sin, let him throw a stone at her first,” (my emphasis).  Sometimes when I read Scripture I want to disassociate from the brutality of ancient cultures. At other times I struggle to make sense of the do’s and don’ts, the either this or that, the right way versus the wrong way, or the judgments on many juxtaposed with mercy to the few. Yet these words spoken by Jesus Christ stand out today as more than the obvious call to consider one’s own sinful past; it is an external – look at her face before you act – directive that harnesses the inhumanity of intentions with the finality of eternity. These are two terrifying steeds dangerously galloping in the darkest night, intent on lurching the driver and his passengers into the abyss.

If this seems too dramatic, perhaps we have grown lukewarm to the message of spiritual death. Consider the powerful influence of the Pharisees and scribes to judge the misdeeds of others. Even though they lacked the official authority to mete out death (only the Romans wielded the power to torture and crucify), the Jewish leaders were feared by their community for merciless judgments. Jesus certainly knew the dark intentions of their power hungry hearts, yet he exhorted all those present to consider what might befall them. Self-examination – what a worthy exhortation. By heeding this call, even we can avoid the hypocritical and negative accusations that cause us to look like fools and that will alienate us from others who pride themselves in being the more tolerant of our day. Even the ungodly knows to make calculated decisions to avoid committing social suicide. The oldest in the crowd that Jesus addressed were the first to understand this. Their impulsiveness was stayed, perhaps not by looking at the adulteress, but by remembering a longer and possibly more shameful history of mistakes than those of younger men.

Unfortunately I, too, have reacted much too impulsively and emphatically when making judgments – not reviewing the self-incrimination of my past words and actions – instead, whipping those horses into a run without a thought to the cliffs up ahead. My judgments and assumptions have risen from worldly observations and biased interpretations, forgetting that I could not do what I required of others.

Even worse, I have arrogantly believed that I controlled the reigns. In my own understanding, I maintained that a word spoken with authority fell within my knowledge and power to affect change. How shocking to find the target trampled under the wheels! Had I not judged, the grace of God might have brought the forgiveness that truly changes a heart and a destiny.

Jesus once said to the Pharisees and scribes, “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one,” (New International Version). This is an amazing statement considering He is the Son of God and will judge all mankind. Yet I hear deadly caution in His words not to decide for another eternal life or death. Isn’t spiritual death what awaited the adulterous woman? She was to die in her sins without mercy. Inhumanity’s justice carried out. Jesus, however, directed these men to look at her; then think about their own sins and the consequences of dying without absolution. For their own sakes, those stones were dropped to the ground. Christ snatched this woman out of a careening carriage hell-bent toward spiritual death because He looked past hers, theirs, and our sins to offer redemption and an eternal destiny with Him. She was given a chance to “sin no more.” Can we remember to do the same for others, and if not for their sakes for our own?

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Habakkuk, 2 Corinthians 7

Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. 2 Corinthians 7:1, NLT.

What defiles the body?

What defiles the spirit?

I’m nearing the thirty-day mark of an eating plan that was designed to reset my body and not only reveal to me the situations that sparked cravings, but the foods themselves that had a tighter grip on my will than I ever imagined. So, what defiles the body? Have I thought very often about how I treat and use my body? What does my lifestyle suggest of my faith?

In conjunction with this thirty-day plan, I’ve come off a summer of stress and big change to enter a school year of big change and stress. Nearly daily there’s some situation or another that’s like a shoulder bump off course. (I’m not kidding how many times I’ve felt a prompting to “eat the cookie” to temporarily soothe my frazzled emotions.) These situations that can either bring out my best or my worst. What of my thoughts? What of my attitude? Can these defile the spirit?

These past few weeks have been a time of reflection about habits and attitudes, about past and future, about where I put my faith. When Paul speaks of cleansing, he gets my attention. His statement flows from parts in 2 Corinthians 6, so I look there too for perspective. He tells of his hardships, and a few I can relate to. He speaks of unions (between believers and unbelievers/God’s temple and idols). He calls our bodies temples of the living God, and these are His promises:

“I will live in them
    and walk among them.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,
    and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.
Don’t touch their filthy things,
    and I will welcome you.
18 And I will be your Father,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
    says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 16-18, NLT

Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

Father, I’m so thankful to be aware of things that were clouding my mind and clouding my heart. I’m so grateful for the bumps and stresses too, because after each one, I feel as though I could hear Paul saying, “What are you going to do? Are you going to take the cookie or take His Word?” Thank you for loving me so much you didn’t want to leave me where I was, but instead welcome me to you, calling me daughter.

Courtney (66books365)

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I Samuel 21-22; I Chronicles 5; Psalm 52; Acts 15

Psalm 52:1 The goodness of God endures continually.

Psalm 52:8 I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever

Psalm 52:9 I will wait on Your name, for it is good.

There are several movies that I watch over and over, like Napoleon Dynamite and Open Range.  I also cannot toss a shelf-full of books that I periodically browse, choosing one, such as Screwtape Letters, to re-read for the umpteenth time. Something about those stories draw me back even though I know the ending and can quote favorite lines. Maybe I crave the emotional connection I felt at the first – love, war, thrills, horror, tear-jerking sadness, laughter – a reflection of myself or an image of who I want to be.

Yet, I’ve been told that if we could see the future we might not want to know the ending. Such was David’s story when he was running from Saul and needed the help of the local priesthood. I Samuel 22: 20-23 tells us that Saul had killed the Lord’s priests because they gave David provisions. When David heard the news from the lone survivor, he said, “I knew that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have caused the death of all the persons of your father’s house.” Would David have made a different decision if he knew he could change the ending of that story?

And is the story’s end even possible to change? Philosophers have wrestled with this question for eons. Fate, destiny, existentialism, karma – man’s attempt to make sense of what befalls him. Today I hear many people pronounce the most limpid sentiment of all, “It is what it is.” To me this statement seems a low blow to the purposeful life created by God. David did not see that the tragedy of the priests’ deaths fulfilled a prophecy made years ago about the family of Eli. David could not have stopped what had already been determined in the heavens. So shall we say we have no control over what happens to others by our actions? I wonder.

I also wonder what plans God has for me. He knows His works from all eternity (Acts 15: 18), and “…we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them, (Ephesians 2:10). Will I trust that my Creator knows all that I need do? If so, then this testimony will produce courage and confidence in times of uncertainty.  Not knowing what is to come, will I wait on His mercy, believing that He alone is truly good?  If so, then I may yet see that God breathed life into my being for a purpose. My years on this earth are numbered, to be sure; but these numbered years are mine to live.

JW

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Ruth 3-4; Psalm 37; Acts 4

Waiting and trusting God to come to my defense doesn’t always come easily. Waiting and trusting God to meet the needs of those I love seems even more difficult. I want to fix things with words; sometimes I think that if I keep talking…keep moving… keep doing, I can make things turn out the way when and how I want them to be. Ruth, Boaz, David and Peter learned a different way of living.

David instructs, “Trust in the Lord…

delight yourself in the Lord…

commit your way to the Lord,

and then be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;

do not fret when men succeed in their ways,

when they carry out their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:3-7).”

Peter and John lived these words when thrown in jail for healing the lame man in the name of Jesus. The courage, boldness and peace found in their refusal to deny the name of Jesus astonished the Sanhedrin so that they “took note that these men had been with Jesus.(Acts 4:13)”

Peace is not something that the world sees much of. When we face difficulty and opposition and then stand humbly by the name of Jesus, we are transformed by the peace he provides and the world takes notice. When I trust in myself, my words and my actions to deliver and save, I am left exhausted and frustrated. When I fall back on Jesus, the peace comes.

“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord:

he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

The Lord helps them and delivers them; 

he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.”

Psalm 37:39-40.

This is the truth that we hold onto.

Lord, no matter what our situation is, may we rest in your truth and join the apostles in testifying “to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” and so that “much grace” rests upon us. Show us what that means for our lives today. Amen

Klueh

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