Tag Archives: evangelism

Genesis 18; Matthew 17; Nehemiah 7; Acts 17

The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?“Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son. But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.” Genesis 18:13-15 NLT

If I am honest with myself, there have been times when I have laughed at God like Sarah did. I’m sure she didn’t think that God heard her, since it says that she “laughed within herself” (Gen 18:12NKJV) She even denied it, but God knew her heart. How many times has God spoke to me, but I laugh instead. I explain away my disobedience. God was fulfilling His purpose in Sarah’s life. He is fulfilling his purpose in my life too. Even when I am confused and don’t understand. I am thankful for a God who is much more patient with me, than I am with myself. He pursues me. He never gives up on me. I give up on people far too easily. Sometimes I stop praying for them if it seems they are beyond reach. But God is prodding and showing me that he is still working in hearts.

Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, we can’t get away from him!” Acts 17:26-28 MSG

Abraham asked the Lord to show mercy on Sodom.

Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for a lack of five?” And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.” Then Abraham pressed his request further. “Suppose there are only forty?” And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of forty.” Gen 18:28-29 NLT

Nehemiah listened to God to return the exiles from captivity.

Then God put it into my heart to gather the nobles, the rulers, the people, that they might be registered by genealogy…There are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away.” Nehemiah 7:5&6 NLT

The disciples were relying on their own strength.

Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:19-20 NLT

Dear Jesus, Help me to be obedient to your plans for my life. I pray that I would listen to your voice even when it is hard. You might be using those times to refine me. Asking me to step out in faith to overcome my fear. Thank you that you are always with me. Give me a boldness and courage that can only be found in you. Help me to truly love others like you do. And to reach out to them with your grace and mercy, like you have done to me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Genesis, Matthew, Nehemiah

Jeremiah 22,23,26; Psalm 77; James 2

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2: 14,15&17 ESV

Works are heavy when I am trying to do them on my own. They start to feel like a burden, a chore. And I have nothing left to give. That’s when I know I need give my honest, messy self to God in prayer.

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old, the years long ago.” Psalm 77:1-5 ESV

I was thankful for the sunshine after the many rainy days. I found myself thanking God for the reminder that there is always hope after a dark night, day, week, month…for a God who shows up in my pain and brokenness. He loves me anyway and is always ready to give me a fresh start.

Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.” Jeremiah 26:12&13 ESV

I don’t think I’ll ever have this faith vs work thing figured out. But, I am learning that God doesn’t desire perfection. He asks me to reach out with His love to others. Sometimes I get so caught up in my own little bubble that I forget there is a hurting world out there. I can get overwhelmed and it seems so big. But, that’s when I need to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prodding on my heart. Because He promises to go before me and knows the needs before I do.

Thank you Father for your compassion. That You love me no matter what. Help me to welcome others with that same love, so they will see You in me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Leviticus 19-20; Hebrews 7

God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the congregation of Israel. Tell them, Be holy because I, God, your God, am holy…Don’t take up with no-god idols. Don’t make gods of cast metal. I am God, your God…

Don’t, Don’t, Don’t…I am God, your God. I brought you out of Egypt. Keep all my decrees and all my laws. Yes, do them. I am God. Set yourselves apart for a holy life. Live a holy life, because I am God, your God. Do what I tell you; live the way I tell you. I am the God who makes you holy.” Leviticus 19&20 MSG

I’ve been listening to Chris Tomlin’s “Jesus Loves Me.” I let the lyrics wash over me as I am reminded of how much Jesus Loves Me. When I pray with my kids at night I will say to help them to remember how much Jesus loves them. Because I am hoping that they will grasp the love of Christ. That it doesn’t matter how much they mess up because I still love them and more importantly Jesus loves them. I am hoping that this sets them apart in this world that is trying to find love and acceptance in so many other places. I hope love is what sets me apart too. That the fruits of the spirit are so evident in my life that His glory shines through.

How am I living a life that is set apart for Him?

So now we have a high priest who perfectly fits our needs: completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself. Unlike the other high priests, he doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for his own sins every day before he can get around to us and our sins. He’s done it, once and for all: offered up himself as the sacrifice. The law appoints as high priests men who are never able to get the job done right. But this intervening command of God, which came later, appoints the Son, who is absolutely, eternally perfect.” Hebrews 7:26-28 MSG

Dear Jesus, Thank you for loving me enough to die on the cross for my sins. I pray that I would be able to show that love to others. Help me to love like Jesus loves. I desire to live my life surrendered to do Your work. In Your Name I pray. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Ezekiel 29-31; James 5

Hell, the pit, Sheol, death. Sounds like Bible thumping, screaming, condemning verbal assaults coming from self-made preachers standing on street corners.  If you have never heard one of these tirades, feel fortunate. I have been embarrassed that these harbingers of doomsday are called Christians.  I prefer to align myself with the well-respected pastors and leaders in church whose demeanor is gentle, who have a teaching style, and who are quick to pat you on the back or give you a fatherly hug. I’m not alone; multitudes flock to the beauty of freshly oiled wooden arches over Renaissance art in stain glass windows, the efficiency of soft, padded chairs with back pockets for Bibles, pencils, and offering envelopes, and the visual and sound stimulation of a high-tech audio/video system complete with theatre lights and digital recording for posterity.

Ezekiel 31:8 No tree in the garden of God was like it in beauty. I made it beautiful with a multitude of branches, So that all the trees of Eden envied it, that were in the garden of God. I have enjoyed living in the shade of such a beautiful tree, a church, a house of worship, a refuge for the hurting, and an outreach to the community. I have noticed that over time, however, my evangelistic energy has waned; I now allow volunteer opportunities to fall to others, and I am challenged to attend church services even once a week, sometimes forgetting to bring my checkbook. Like the words to the TobyMac song Made to Love, “Whatever happened to a passion I could live for?”

Meanwhile, God is working still. Lives are being broken, sinners are becoming saints, and saints are falling into sin. Where am I in that day? Ezekiel 29:21 In that day I will cause the horn of the house of Israel to spring forth, and I will open your mouth to speak in their midst. Then they shall know that I am the Lord. Am I prepared to be the mouth of the Lord? Do I see when my brother stumbles or do I laugh it off in disbelief? Do I accept God’s will as righteous or rationalize away His judgments? Am I willing to turn back a soul from death with truth or be satisfied offering tissues for tears?

James 5:19-20 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. As much as I am repulsed by pulpit-pounding and finger-pointing from zealots, I cannot deny an eventual need to abandon my preferences of comforting religious etiquette. Not only am I dulling my sense of purpose in Christ to spread the Gospel, but I am insulating myself from those around me who are on the proverbial cliff. God calls prophets who will open their mouths to speak words like, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live, Ezekiel 33:11. Without this message, what is the alternative? Without a messenger, who will bring the words of life?

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Filed under Bible in a year reading plan, Ezekiel, James, New Testament, Old Testament

Jeremiah 38 & 39; Hebrews 1

So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malkijah the king’s son that was in the courtyard of the palace guard. They lowered him down with ropes…“He’s as good as dead. There isn’t a scrap of bread left in the city. They pulled Jeremiah up out of the cistern with ropes. But he was still confined in the courtyard of the palace guard. Jeremiah said, “If I told you the whole truth, you’d kill me. And no matter what I said, you wouldn’t pay any attention anyway.” Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah right there, but in secret, “As sure as God lives, who gives us life, I won’t kill you, nor will I turn you over to the men who are trying to kill you. Jeremiah assured him, “They won’t get a hold of you. Listen, please. Listen to God’s voice. I’m telling you this for your own good so that you’ll live.” Jeremiah 38:6-20 MSG

Growing up in Sunday school… when I think of bible stories and heroes, the first one that comes to mind is David and Goliath. As well as reading it to my six year old son every night who is fascinated by the slingshot and stone. This is one of the reasons I am thankful for 66 Books. It gives me the opportunity to dig into a scripture that I might have previously overlooked.

Jeremiah stands out to me as another biblical hero. He did not let fear hinder him. He knew who God was and that He would complete the work that He had for him. I think about how Jeremiah must have felt helpless in that cistern. And when he got out he was still showing boldness and courage. In the midst of being counted as “good as dead,” Jeremiah is still standing up for the God he believes in. He is telling the king to listen to God’s voice. He does not let fear stand in his way, though he does have “good reason to fear”(Jeremiah 39:16MSG) But, that God will deliver him out of their hands…“Yes, I will certainly save you. You won’t be killed. You’ll walk out of there safe and sound because you trusted me.” Jeremiah 39:15-18 MSG

How many times do I let fear stand in my way of fully trusting God?

Dear Father, help me to listen to Your voice above all others. I know that I am weak and need You and Your word. Thank you for loving me. Amen.

The Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says-powerful words! But, you’ll stay the same, year after year; you’ll never fade, you’ll never wear out.” Hebrews 1:3,12 MSG

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Proverbs 15-16; 2 Cor. 1

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort-we get a full measure of that, too.”2 Cor. 1:1-5 MSG

If I am honest with myself, there are times when I want to help someone who is hurting before I am ready. Skipping right past my own refining process. But, sometimes the helping can be a part of my healing. It takes the focus off of myself and my own struggles and opens my eyes to other needs. God knows my heart and my desire to be used of Him. I have learned that He doesn’t intend for me to carry others burdens. That is His job. He wants to carry mine as well…lighten my load and make me free. I am thankful for the friends that He has put in my path at just the right time when I needed it. I pray that I would be ready to be that for another. When I put too much pressure on myself. That is when I hear Him saying to me…

The more you stay in My word ,

the more you take the time to be quiet and listen to My voice,

the more of My words will come out to speak life.

Sometimes words don’t come easy for me. I’d rather write a note or give a gift. Or, I might be holding onto my pride. I can hear Him calling me out of my comfort zone to speak into my family and friends the encouragement that they need to hear. I have seen in my own life how,“Gracious speech is like clover honey- good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24 MSG.

Dear Father, I am humbled that You would want to use me. May You get all the glory. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Job 26-28; Acts 11

Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said. Acts 11:1-3, NLT.

I spent a few years living in a Christian bubble: Christian friends, Christian music, Christian books. These things aren’t bad … in fact, they a still a huge part of my life. One day, God pushed me out of the bubble. Suddenly I was hostess around a table to many who weren’t believers. So, I served them. I showed hospitality and inclusion to them (and their kids). I welcomed them. This was all God’s doing. He planned that party, so to speak.

When I read these verses in Acts today, I wonder what the world would have been like if these men had limited their influence.

17 And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?”

18 When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.” Acts 11:17-18, NLT.

And:

Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews. 20 However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. 21 The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord. Acts 11:19-21, NLT.

I read a heated thread of fury on a social media feed this week. One person said (of Christians) that the basis of (our) religion is to cram it down other people’s throats (then he referenced a scripture about spreading the gospel). I felt horrified and grieved. I didn’t comment for several reasons, one being that it was obviously a battle ground for attack, and not a forum for understanding. But I did wonder: how is it that they perceived Christians in this light? What experiences (or lack of) have others had with Christians to describe them in such a way? How does one go from being good/full of the Spirit/strong in the faith to throat crammer? In my daily interactions, what do people notice first: his love or an agenda? (I can think of times when all someone was interested in was sticking a tract in my hands rather than asking my name or about my story. At the time, it made me mad.)

24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.) Acts 11:24-26, NLT.

I take some cues from these scriptures today, about sitting across from someone (perhaps over a meal like Peter), and spending time with them (investing in their lives like Barnabas and Saul/Paul).

In what ways has God given you opportunities to invest in the life of another?

Lord, you’ve wired us all in unique ways. Show us opportunities to glorify your name. Let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and truth.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year