Tag Archives: Faith

1 Samuel 16-17; 1 Corinthians 3; Psalm 9

1 Samuel 17:26 (NIV)
David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

For more than a month Goliath had taunted the Israelites, and his taunts were working. The men were terrified and refused to fight. They were overcome by the size of this giant and they let their fear dictate their actions.

David, however, saw the situation differently. Or, rather, he saw it accurately: David knew that Goliath was not just defying the army; he was defying God Almighty. And David refused to let him get away with it.

David was not afraid of or intimated by Goliath. He was bold, and he was confident. Why? Because David knew Goliath was a mortal man who had dared to defy the Lord God, and David knew that God would defend His name and His honor before the Philistines and before the Israelites. So David took action.

1 Samuel 17:36-37 (NIV)
Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

While the Israelite army cowered in fear, David was determined to defend God. He stood up for God’s honor, confident and unafraid. He saw more than his circumstances; David saw his God.

1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NIV)
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Oh to have a fresh vision of God!

I want to be like David –

  • who was moved to action when someone disparaged the Lord his God
  • who was confident to challenge those who challenged God
  • who defended God’s honor even at his own personal risk
  • who had such a great understanding of God that he was unaffected by his circumstances
  • and who was the ultimate example of what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.

And God was with him.

1 Samuel 17:50-51, 53 (NIV)
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.

Father, help me to see you like David saw you. Give me a fresh perspective of your power and might. Help me not to give into the fear of what people will say about me, how they will react, or what they might do, when I defend you. I want to stand up for you and defend your honor, regardless of opposition. Help me to trust you to defend your name through me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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1 Samuel 1-3; Galatians 3; Psalms 66

 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask.  “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me-isn’t that better than having ten sons?”  “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.  And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you.  He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.  When Elekanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son.  She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.  I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord.  I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.  Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.” 1 Samuel 1-2 NLT

It is refreshing to see Hannah’s vulnerability.  In her faithfulness, she was still human.  She struggled and shed tears.  She cried out to the Lord and he answered her prayer.  He rewarded her faithfulness.  He gave back to her in abundance.

“Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.  Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:20&21 NLT

What am I holding onto that God is asking me to give to him? What is my Samuel?  Sometimes it is a daily surrendering to him.  He knows I can’t do it alone, so he gave me his Spirit.

“You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.  How foolish can you be? After starting new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?” In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.” Galatians 3:6&7 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for Father for your presence.  That you promise to always be with me.  Forgive me when I doubt.  Thank you for your faithfulness in my life.  Thank you for your patience and unfailing love towards me.  Help me to live in a posture of surrender to you.

“If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.  But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.  Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” Psalms 66:18-20 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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Judges 12-16; Mark 14

29 Peter said, “Everyone else may stumble in their faith, but I will not.”

Haven’t I said those same words! I just knew I was strong in an area where God had been working but when the rug was pulled out from under me, I was not. I wasn’t prepared when something triggered that deep, emotional pain from my past.  I felt God whisper 1 Cor. 10:12 into my heart: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

37He said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you stay awake with me for one hour? 38 Stay awake and pray for strength against temptation. The spirit wants to do what is right, but the body is weak.”

And therein lies my problem. I think I’ve got everything under control! That issue I had, it’s in the past—or so I thought. God and I had worked together for years on breaking free from that habit, that old way of dealing with the pain of the past. I was free but I made the mistake of taking that freedom for granted. I need to “stay awake and pray for strength against temptation” for it is always going to be there. I cannot fall spiritually asleep, I must be vigilant. My flesh is weak and sometimes it is just easier to give in than fight. Now I’m learning, when I’ve come to the end of my strength, the Spirit has more than enough. All I have to do is ask for it.

72 At once, the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had told him: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will say three times that you don’t know me.” Then Peter lost control of himself and began to cry.

For three years Jesus poured himself into the disciples. Of the twelve, Peter, the rock as Jesus named him, John, and James were his closest companions. Peter, in particular, has stood out as a leader and strong in his faith—until he wasn’t. At that moment, he didn’t want to be associated with Jesus because he feared for his life. Isn’t that my story as well? I was strong until I wasn’t.

Jesus has been pouring himself into me for a lot longer than three years. I may not have said those exact words but there are so many instances I can think of where to me it is just like denying I know him. I have been in a conversation where someone is gossiping and my spirit told me to walk away but I didn’t—I denied him. I didn’t want people to associate me as “different” (a Jesus follower). That time I clearly heard I was supposed to go help someone and I didn’t follow through, I denied him. When I didn’t grab the opportunity to ask someone I knew was dying if they were assured they were going to heaven, I was denying Jesus. I didn’t want to make someone uncomfortable—isn’t THAT a lie from the devil? There are many times I feel like I have disappointed him and just like Peter I have cried and I have asked for forgiveness.

Jesus knew Peter would struggle with his faith, that is why he prayed for him (Luke 22:31). He also knew Peter would get past it and continue spreading the gospel. Jesus restored his dignity and assured Peter he still had plenty of work for him to do (“feed my sheep)”. Peter was given new hope and new purpose!

I, too, have a Savior who sees my weaknesses and continues to love me and pour Himself into me. I am dearly loved.  He has given me new hope and new purpose. That is praise worthy!

Thank you Jesus for never giving up on me. You know my heart is set on you. Help me to stay awake and be vigilant for the times temptation comes my way. Help me to overcome any fear of proclaiming I am Yours. Give me opportunities to serve others and tell them all about You. In your precious name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

 

 

 

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Joshua 9-13; Mark 6

I almost missed the miracle. Early in the reading, I notice how the Israelites did not consult the Lord–and they were deceived. Immediately, my mind is inundated with every worst case scenario facing me in this season, and I reach out to the Lord and wonder, “I don’t want to do this without you. How will I know what to do?”

A little further down, and Joshua finds himself facing war.

So Joshua and his entire army, including his best warriors, left Gilgal and set out for Gibeon. “Do not be afraid of them,” the Lord said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you (Joshua 10:7-8, NLT).”

My head churns on the stresses ahead of me, and I try to focus on the words, but they are streaming past my eyes, and my worries are louder than the words in front of me. But something catches my attention, and I back up. I almost missed the miracle.

13 So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies.

Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day. 14 There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the Lord answered such a prayer. Surely the Lord fought for Israel that day (Joshua 10:12-14, NLT)!

I start over and read again, because this isn’t the only miracle by my God of Miracles. He delivered kings and armies to Joshua, 31 battles listed in this book. Thirty-one victories. And in the New Testament, Jesus feeds 5,000. He walks on water. He stops the wind. He heals those who seek him.

Self: don’t miss the miracles.

Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief (Mark 6:4-6, NLT).

And

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” 51 Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, 52 for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in (Mark 6:50-52, NLT).

Lord, your truth strengthens me. It reminds me of who you are and what you can do. I love your reminder to the disciples: “Take courage! I am here!”, complete with exclamation. You know how to get my attention. Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.


33 But Moses gave no allotment of land to the tribe of Levi, for the Lord, the God of Israel, had promised that he himself would be their allotment (Joshua 13:33, NLT).

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 23-26; Mark 1

I’m reading through Deuteronomy and seeing what the Lord values, his warnings, and his reasons why. Twice, I’m caught by the word “remember.”

17 “True justice must be given to foreigners living among you and to orphans, and you must never accept a widow’s garment as security for her debt. 18 Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from your slavery. That is why I have given you this command.

19 “When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all you do. 20 When you beat the olives from your olive trees, don’t go over the boughs twice. Leave the remaining olives for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. 21 When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don’t glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. 22 Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt. That is why I am giving you this command (Deuteronomy 24:17-22, NLT, emphasis added).

Here, calls to justice, mercy, compassion. These are things the Lord values. He reminds the people to remember where they came from–for they were all once slaves who received justice, mercy, and compassion from the Lord. And more: they received what they needed, perhaps in abundance, so that there was leftover to spare. They didn’t need to hold tightly. The Lord provides.

New Testament readings, and my heart swells at this:

10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”

12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.

14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News! (Mark 1:10-15, emphasis added)”

In Mark, Jesus, Son of God, who brings the Father great joy–even the angels take care of him. This is the God I love and who loves me too (Father, provider, protector, teacher–and so much more). I read of the healing that takes place as Jesus moves from place to place. Demons released, health restored, lives changed. He teaches with authority and shows the way.

35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came (Mark 1:35-38, NLT, emphasis added).”

Self: do not live deceived by comfort. I was saved by grace. I know where I came from, and I know who I should have become in a lineage void of Jesus. I can trust him to show mercy, justice, compassion, generosity. He calls me to do the same–to remember where I came from and how he saved me. Lord Jesus, everyone is looking for you, to fill a void and soothe a cry, to show the way to freedom. I am so grateful I know you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 3-5; Acts 24; Psalms 36, 43

Moses wanted to step into a promised land. He would not be allowed, but the Lord did give him the opportunity to see it from Pisgah Peak. I try to imagine the view and reach. I wonder at the emotions in his heart–of awe and elation, and some of regret and grief. Moses had been through quite a lot and had seen God’s deliverance and provision. But his time was nearing an end. I’m moved by his focus, a kingdom focus, and a kingdom message. He addresses the people to remind them, to point them, to encourage them, to urge them, to warn them.

39 “So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other” (Deuteronomy 4:39, NLT).

A kingdom focus. A kingdom message.

It doesn’t seem right that Paul would be targeted and hunted by fellow Jews because he rocked foundations with words that unsettled and challenged. (With words. Oh, the power of words. The power of truth. And the lengths people will go to suppress it–like truth could ever be eradicated.) The Jews wanted to shut him up, lock him away. And even the governor, Felix, didn’t want to risk favor with the population–kept Paul in prison another two years.

I read the psalms and mark the contrast of evil and good. Evil hunts and plots; it’s blind, yet targeted; it is fearless and refuses to act wisely. But Psalm 36 reminds me of God’s sovereignty, goodness, grace and power. Yes, the Lord is God both in heaven and on earth. There is no other.

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
   my Savior and my God! (Psalm 43:5, NLT)

Lord, you are God in both heaven and on earth. There is no other. I put my hope in you, God. I praise you again, and again, my Savior, my God. Thank you, Lord, for letting us glimpse a future that we may not enter, but have the privilege to (remind, point, encourage, urge, warn) others of who you are. Thank you that you are the way, the truth, the life–and that truth won’t be eradicated.

Courtney (66books365)

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

Numbers 35-36; Deuteronomy 1-2; Acts 23

Acts 23:14-16 (ESV)

They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.” Now the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.

Confession time: I’m a perfectionist. I have long struggled with unrealistic expectations of myself – expectations regarding personal habits, my relationship with the Lord, and my ministry to others. As a result, I also struggle with comparison. I see the people around me who seem be excelling, and I feel defeated. I see the numbers of people others are ministering to, and feel like my feeble few isn’t going to make a difference. I see people gravitating to the “super-star” Christians and feel like I’ll never be recognized or appreciated for my effort.

This prideful line of thought crashes into insecurity: I’m not good enough. No one notices me. Why would God ever chose to use me?

The last few weeks God has been bringing this struggle to the forefront yet again. And I think today’s reading is exactly what I needed to confront my insecurities.

Right smack in the middle of Acts 23 we read of the plot to kill Paul. It wasn’t time for Paul to die – and God made sure of it by putting someone in the right place at the right time to hear the plot and intervene to save Paul’s life. Who is this person? He’s an unknown. In fact, we don’t even know his name. He’s simply labeled as Paul’s nephew.

Paul was an “A-list” character in this story, yes; but this background, unnamed “extra” had the most important role. This young man saved Paul’s life. This young man was the reason Paul made it to Rome. This young man was vital to God’s plan for Paul’s life.

Anytime that I struggle with feeling ineffective, I pray that God will bring this young man to mind. He was simply in the right place at the right time – and God used him in such an incredible way! I need to trust that God has put me where He has me for a reason. And eventually, it will prove effective. I don’t need be front and center, to have a platform, to reach hundreds or thousands. I need to be faithful behind the scenes.

So what if no one is noticing me, encouraging me, or recognizing my potential? So what if I don’t have huge following, and no one remembers my name? Is God’s approval enough for me?

Some people are called to impact thousands. What if God just wants me to impact one?

Lord, forgive me for making my ministry and my service to You about me. Forgive me for comparing myself to others and their successes. I want to be faithful to you regardless of where you put me or how much I’m noticed. Help me not to put unrealistic and unhealthy expectations on my own performance, but let me trust in your perfect plan for my life. Help me to remember it’s about the 1 sheep, not the 99. Let me make a difference in the small things and let me make Your name known over my own. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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