Tag Archives: children of God

2 Kings 4-6; Matthew 5

I wonder which would be more difficult: to fill many empty jars with oil from one flask or to offer my other cheek to be slapped again by an enemy? In the one situation, a widow is about to have her two sons taken away from her to fulfill a debt. In another situation, one is advised to stand before an enemy and not only take the blow, but ready oneself for the next without striking back or defending oneself. Really: which would be more difficult?

Elisha speaks miracles–many of them just by telling people what to do. He doesn’t do it for his own glory. He doesn’t even accept payment. He does it out of relationship with God and obedience to him. It is an act of trust and faith. God is the source of power, holiness, and ability, and Elisha knows it. And when others witness these things, they know it too.

Lord, do my words and actions support my belief that you are the source of power, holiness, and ability?

Elisha gives the word to a soldier to dunk himself in the water to heal his leprosy–he doesn’t need to be there. He eats in a famine. He sees the Lord’s vast army through the window when others can’t.

Imagine holding a flask of oil that continues to flow beyond its measure.

In Matthew 5, Jesus teaches his disciples about blessing, effectiveness (saltiness), the law, adultery, divorce, vows, revenge, and love for enemies. This isn’t teaching for other people; it’s guidance for all people. So, what is more difficult: to be mocked, persecuted and lied about for being a Christ follower or to shine like a light from a hilltop for even your enemies to see, unhidden? To actively reconcile with someone where there is deep tension or to love (in deed) people who are not friends?

It’s easy to think metaphorically, easy to comply when one isn’t in the heat of a conflict, “Offer your other cheek. Give your coat too. Go the extra mile.” But what if an enemy literally struck my cheek, would I stand in God’s strength and offer the other cheek? And what if I was fined payment of something I used daily (the shirt), could I also offer something I used in emergency (the coat)? And if, in oppression, I was told to carry something, would I go above and beyond?

Am I like the “tax collectors and pagans” loving only those who love me, showing kindness to only my friends? Do I shine my light in the safe places, only to those who already know God, or do I hold him up in the company of unbelievers?

Or am I a flask that continues to flow beyond its measure? Could I do what Christ suggests without fear, without complaint, without resentment because I know there’s more (in me) where that came from (because of God)?

10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (Matthew 5:10, NLT)

Father God, you are the source of all. If you call, you will equip. And in the impossible, you make it possible. Oh, this is freedom, to live a life poured out for you, flowing from your abundance. You give sunlight and rain to both the evil and the good because there is no shortage of grace and goodness in you.

44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44-45a, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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1Kings 17; Colossians 4; Ezekiel 47; Psalm 103

fall tree in my backyardMy daughter turns eleven tomorrow. I sat in the kitchen with my husband on Sunday and felt the emotional lump growing in my throat as I talked about making her birthday popovers on a day with an early start and a busy pace. I would do it, and do it happily, because these years fly by–this season (motherhood) feels like it’s rushing by me.

The time before seemed leisurely. But these years after our move, time flies.

Fall’s leafy cascade across my lawn, a changing season. Time moves on.

13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
    tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
    he remembers we are only dust.
15 Our days on earth are like grass;
    like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
16 The wind blows, and we are gone—
    as though we had never been here. Psalm 103:13-16 NLT

Today’s passages are a reminder and refrain: Make the most of every opportunity.

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Colossians 4:2-5 NLT

Paul was in prison for proclaiming the gospel, and perhaps, too, to proclaim it there. His sight is focused on opportunity–to serve the Lord wherever he finds himself.

In a different time of life, I remember treading the days, waiting with hope for a new season. The Lord would teach me to serve through the wait, that I might say even then: this is why I am here. I learned, more clearly in hindsight, to see opportunity in trial.

17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.” Colossians 4:17 NLT.

I don’t look at this season of motherhood as a prison–it is a gift, sticky and messy and loud. It is a piece of the Why I Am Here: to wake to laundry and popovers and homework to do. To trash days and chores and grocery trips. There is more to these days than the tasks I have numbered–there is a mysterious plan that I am to speak about and many opportunities to speak about it, in my home and outside of it.

Father God: Thank you for this ministry of motherhood. I pray that I will proclaim your message. I pray that I will make the most of every opportunity in word or deed. On the best days, or on the worst, let me always point to your grace and great love for the world.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Colossians, Ezekiel, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Judges 20; Acts 24; Jeremiah 34; Luke 3

When all the people were being baptized by John, Jesus also was baptized. While Jesus was praying, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit came down on him in the form of a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “You are my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with you.” Luke 3:21-22 (NCV)

There were so many topics bouncing around my head while I was reading today’s passages. I was having a hard time even focusing, because of the depth of the subjects (Israel against the Benjamites, prophecies of Judah falling into the hands of Babylon, Paul in Jail…) and, because my kids wouldn’t settle down long enough for me to read or write a complete sentence.

And, then I read Luke 3:22, “You are my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with You.”

These words coming directly from the mouth of God Himself; a Father’s love poured out over His Son. Pure acceptance, not for anything He did, but simply for who He was, is, and is to come.

Jesus was still a ‘nobody’ to the world. He hadn’t turned water into wine. He hadn’t healed anyone, hadn’t cast out demons, hadn’t raised anyone from the dead. He hadn’t walked on water or calmed storms. He hadn’t challenged the sensibilities of the priest or changed the hearts of sinners. He hadn’t died, hadn’t been buried, hadn’t risen from the dead.

I think about when I watch my own daughters. I consider who they are. I study the beauty that they carry, both inside and out. I reflect on the short time that I have had to get to know them, their personalities, their quirks, their identities. I ponder in my heart their possibilities and what the future may hold for them.

They are my daughters, whom I love. And, I am well pleased with them. They are ‘nobodies’ to the world; they have ‘done’ nothing. And, yet, I am overwhelmed at the immensity of how much love I have for them, the pleasure they bring to my heart and soul.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the amount of love I have for my girls, is only a tiny fraction of the amount of love that God has for them…and, the amount of love that God has for me.

He didn’t just say those words to Jesus. He said them to me, to my daughters, to everyone…ALL of His children. It doesn’t matter if I am ‘known’ or ‘unknown’, if I have done ‘something’ or done nothing at all but live life. It doesn’t matter if have a pure heart and clean hands or if I am walking in sin.

It doesn’t matter because He loves me with an everlasting love. He sees me for the diamond that I am, even if I am covered in muck. He sees my potential. He sees my future and He knows the plan is good.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your acceptance and Your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

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

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Numbers 34; Psalm 78:38-72; Isaiah 26; 1 John 4

Read at – www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Num.%2034;%20Ps.78:38-72;%20Isa.%2026;%201%20John%204&version=NKJV

Numbers 34             Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance—the land of Canaan to its boundaries.’ These are the ones the Lord commanded to divide the inheritance among the children of Israel in the land of Canaan. V.1-2,29

            The Lord God, the only Owner of all, has the authority and exercises His authority in giving inheritance to whomever He chooses. God’s commands are specific in detail. Who am I to not obey Him in using His gifts? How do ignore His spiritual, physical and intellectual gifts and not use them for His designed purpose and glory? When do I ignore the responsibility He has given me?  Where is the territory God has entrusted me to “rule” under His authority by the Word of God and His Holy Spirit? Do I hold myself and those assigned to me, such as my children, family, friends, neighbors, everyone I encounter, so to see, sense and be drawn to the Love of God by His Son Jesus Christ in order for their eventual surrender to follow the Lord Jesus? Do I live and speak the Word of God in love? How often do I pray for them? Lord, thank You for trusting me. Help me to honor You more.

Psalm 78:38-72                   But He (Lord God), being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, And did not destroy them.  …  How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, And grieved Him in the desert!  They did not remember His power: The day when He redeemed them from the enemy, … For they provoked Him to anger with their high places, And moved Him to jealousy with their carved images. When God heard this, He was furious, And greatly abhorred Israel, …  He also gave His people over to the sword, And was furious with His inheritance. … He put them to a perpetual reproach.

               Lord God, I am grateful that Your mercies are new every morning. That You forgive my iniquities as quickly as I repent to You. Thank You for Your mercy on those who have not yet repented to You, by Your patience for them to come to You before their time here on earth is over. Hebrews 9:27, 2 Peter 3:9

            But chose the tribe of Judah, …He also chose David His servant, … To shepherd Jacob His people, And Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.

            Lord God, You sent Your one and only Son Jesus to be born of the line of King David, of Judah to shepherd Your people! Thank You merciful King of kings! John 10

Isaiah 26        You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

              As I see destruction around me, God’s judgment for rebellion, my heart and mind are safe because I trust in You, Lord God. Proverbs  3:4-6   Your love for me compels me to love them all.

            The desire of our soul is for Your name And for the remembrance of You. … With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;

My soul grieves for the unrepentant –

Let grace be shown to the wicked, Yet he will not learn righteousness; In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, And will not behold the majesty of the Lord.

1 John 4                    Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God … Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

              The culture these days is wrought with deceiving spirits. May I cling to Your Word (Romans 12:1-2) in my mind and heart to abide in You Lord God. John 15

            In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  

I rejoice in this!!

God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. … There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  We love Him because He first loved us.

              I continue to proclaim, to serve, to pray. It is endless: the work and love that is involved in being humble under You King of kings! Yet You refresh me by the fellowship with Your children! The mind of Christ Jesus is powerful within them! Thank You Lord God for Your Son and all His people!

You are of God, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than He Who is in the world.   By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Bible Insights –

1- Exodus 19:5; Psalm 50:10; Joshua 1:2-9; Deuteronomy 28; Hebrews 9:27; 2 Peter 3:9; Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 51; Psalm 46:10; Romans 12:1-2; John 15

Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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Filed under 1 John, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Numbers, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Ezra 3, 4; 1 John 5

Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they rebuilt the altar at its old site. Ezra 3:3 NLT.

Some of the biggest moments of my life were in the midst of fear. Fear is my shame, and I try to hide it by smiles, but it seeps through my pores, and keeps me up at night with worry.

My daughter and I were en route to an event and she told me she was afraid, and I understood it too well. I don’t know if my advice was the best, but it was all I knew:

“Put a smile on your face, and do it anyway,” I said. Fear stops us from living, from moving on, from rebuilding. We looked at Christmas lights at dusk along the drive and I asked her, “What are you afraid will happen?”

I don’t think that half the time I can answer this question myself.

I suppose the enemies who opposed the rebuilding in Ezra had their own list of fears; their fear masked by anger and opposition. It put a halt on another’s rebuilding.

Then the local residents tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah to keep them from their work. They bribed agents to work against them and to frustrate their plans. This went on during the entire reign of King Cyrus of Persia and lasted until King Darius of Persia took the throne. Ezra 4:5-5.

I think on whatever it is I’m afraid of, or the effects of another’s fear on me–the very limiting force of the enemy.

19 We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. 1 John 5:19.

I think of the walks I took to doors with gifts and goodbyes in hand, a smile on my face and fear seeping through pores and shaking my voice. Chapters closed with trembling fingers, and new ones were yet to be opened from the oppressive weight of what-if. Fear. Sometimes plans to rebuild are halted.

18 We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. 19 We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.

21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. 1 John 5:18-21

The verses above tell me not to be afraid, for the Son of God has come and holds me securely in his hands. And though evil comes so close, and I feel its haughty eyes upon me and hear its voice in my ears, God holds me closer. I can choose to live in fellowship with God, or listen to life-limiting lies from an evil one. Which will take up space in my heart?

Courtney (66books365)

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