Tag Archives: Faith

Zech. 5-7; John 7; Ps. 126

Psalm 126 (NIV)

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,

we were like those who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,

our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

3 The Lord has done great things for us,

and we are filled with joy.

 

4 Restore our fortunes, Lord,

like streams in the Negev.

5 Those who sow with tears

will reap with songs of joy.

6 Those who go out weeping,

carrying seed to sow,

will return with songs of joy,

carrying sheaves with them.

 

What a beautiful passage! This song was a long time coming. The exiles were finally returning from captivity and they were overjoyed at God’s deliverance.

But they weren’t always this joyful. In fact, while the psalm begins with rejoicing, the last half reminds us of what it took to get there: sorrow. There were tears and weeping. There was strife. There was pain.

But that suffering was not the end of their story! And it’s not the end of ours, either.

Though we walk through valleys, they are simply the way we must take to reach the mountain top. One day we will reach that victory. One day we will experience that deliverance. One day we will experience that joy.

In the midst of sorrow, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and fearful. But in this passage I’m reminded that God never ends a story in pain. He only uses the pain to bring greater healing, greater joy, and an exceedingly great reward.

Those who sow in tears WILL reap with songs of joy.

Those who go out weeping, WILL return with songs of joy.

It’s not an “if.”

It is a promise.

It is coming.

It’s on its way.

And all will see how Great God is when He delivers us from our sorrow and pain!

I once heard it said that the only thing harder than waiting on God is wishing you had.

Instead of focusing on the pain and suffering, I will choose to focus on the promise of deliverance and joy. I choose to live in hope. I choose to live in faith. Deliverance is coming. It may not look like I expect, or come when I expect, but it IS coming and it WILL be good.

Eventually, we will each receive the promise and be able to join in with the others who’ve gone before us in saying, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!”

 

Father, thank You for the incredible encouragement You offer through Your word. Thank You for Your promise that You will not leave things undone. Thank You for working good out of bad, and for trading tears for songs of joy. Help me to wait for Your deliverance so that some day soon I can stand and proclaim Your power in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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Daniel 5-6; John 1; Psalms 130

“From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call to you for help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer. I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word.” Psalms 130:1&5 NLT

I have been in a hard season where I can get weary praying. I wonder if my prayers are making a difference. But, God honors obedience.  I want to have a faith like David and Daniel and pray from what I know about God, instead of how I am feeling.

“But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem.  He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.  Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help.  “Then they told the king, “That man Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is ignoring  you and your law.  He still prays to his God three times a day. Hearing this, the king was deeply troubled, and he tried to think of a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament. So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions.  The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” Daniel 6:10-16 NLT

Daniel went against the culture and stood up for what he believed. He earned the King’s favor, but still ended up in the lions den.

“Then King Darius sent this message to the people…”I decree that everyone throughout the kingdom should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.  For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:25-27 NLT

What situations do I find myself in that feel like I will never find a way out? Am I trusting God to deliver me and my family, like he has before? Would the king say of me, “The God of Amy, like he said for Daniel? (Vs.25). As I think on these verses I am reminded of the depth of God’s love for me. He is with me. And I have no reason to fear.

Dear Father, Give me the courage to obey, even when I don’t understand. Help me to remember that your ways and plans are higher than mine. Thank you for the encouragement and promises from your word. I am holding  tight to them. Amen.

 “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:4&5 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Ezekiel 31-32; James 2

James 2:14-24 (NIV)

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

 

Faith requires action.

It’s easy to say I believe something. But it’s not always easy to prove it.

I once heard someone say that a faith that costs you nothing is not faith at all.

Here in James 2 we read of the importance of putting action into our faith. As an illustration, we are reminded of Abraham’s faith, when he carried his son to the altar to sacrifice to God. While he did not physically sacrifice him, Abraham proved his faith in God by surrendering his son to God’s will, whatever that may look like, believing that God was good, God loved him, and that God would keep His promise to Abraham. But this was not an easy journey for Abraham – it took him decades to learn this kind of faith.

But what about me? What does my faith look like? Do my actions match my speech?

It’s easy to say I believe God loves me. But am I living as though I am confident of His acceptance?

It’s easy to say I believe God is good. But when bad things happen, am I choosing to “trust and obey” until I see that goodness?

It’s easy to say God answers prayer. But is prayer my first response when I am in need?

It’s easy to say I love my neighbor. But am I actually encouraging, strengthening, and providing for them as opportunities arise?

It’s easy to say I care about the lost. But when was the last time I shared God’s hope with someone who does not know Him?

My dad used to say, “Your walk talks and your talk talks but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”

What does my walk say? Does it say I have faith in me, in my own abilities, and in what I feel to be true? Or does my walk show that I have put my trust in God and I believe Him to be who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do?

Faith in myself leads me to be self-centered. If I’m not noticing those around me, if I’m not praying for those I know, if I’m not offering encouragement to those who are hopeless, if I’m not providing for those in need, it is a sign that I’m paying more attention to me than to God.

But when my faith in God is secure, I can trust Him to provide for me. This leads me to be a giver. I can be generous with everyone I encounter and give of them what I have received from God, whether spiritual, emotional, or physical.

 

Father, forgive me for becoming self-consumed and unaware of those around me. Forgive me for not trusting You to provide for me and for becoming overly concerned with my own needs instead of letting you provide for them. Help me to see those around me. Help me to meet the needs of those you place in my path each and every day. Help me to prove my faith by my actions of love and generosity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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Ezekiel 10-13; Hebrews 9

“I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile.  I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel again.’ “When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols.  And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them.  I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations.  Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:16-20 NLT

Lord is Sovereign. I am needing this reminder today and every day.

Only He is responsible for a changed heart. Am I letting him change mine?

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against all your magic charms, which you use to ensare my people like birds.  I will tear them from your arms, setting my people free like birds set free from a cage.  I will tear off the magic veils and save my people from your grasp.  They will no longer be your victims.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.  You have discouraged the righteous with your lies, but I didn’t want them to be sad.  And you have encouraged the wicked by promising them life, even though they continue in their sins.  Because of all this, you will no longer talk of seeing visions that you never saw, nor will you make predictions.  For I will rescue my people from your grasp.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 13:20-23 NLT

What am I letting control me? Who am I running to? My mind can be a trap for the enemy.  He knows where I am weak.  But, God is merciful and rescues me every time.  He never gets tired of when I come to him. This song from Cody Carnes comes to mind….”I run to the Father. I fall into grace. I’m done with the hiding. No reason to wait. My heart needs a surgeon. My soul needs a friend. So I’ll run to the Father. Again and again And again And again.”

“For by the power of the eternal spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.  That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them.  For Christ died to set then free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.” Hebrews 9:15&16 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your Holy Spirit. I want to be after your heart.  Give me eyes to see where I need to change.  Amen.

“He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:28 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Ezekiel 1-2; Hebrews 6; Psalms 143, 144

The imagery in these scriptures stirs something in me. A call. A confirmation. An encouragement. A reminder. A focus.

Stand up, son of man,” said the voice. “I want to speak with you.” The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet. I listened carefully to his words. “Son of man,” he said, “I am sending you […] 6 Son of man, do not fear them or their words. Don’t be afraid even though their threats surround you like nettles and briers and stinging scorpions. Do not be dismayed by their dark scowls, even though they are rebels. You must give them my messages whether they listen or not. But they won’t listen, for they are completely rebellious! Son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not join them in their rebellion. Open your mouth, and eat what I give you.” (Ezekiel 2:1-3a, 6-8, NLT, emphasis added)

An enemy knows how to distract me, to take my focus off the Kingdom and busy it with fruitless concerns. God’s Word resets my focus (He stands me on my feet, a Father who is always willing and ready to provide guidance.).

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding … We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. 10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. 11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. (Hebrews 6:1a, 9b-12, NLT, emphasis added)

I think on His promises, and gasp at this image–hope guides:

18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. (Hebrews 6:18-19, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, this time in Your Word is precious to me.

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
    for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
    for I give myself to you.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord;
    I run to you to hide me.
10 Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
    on a firm footing
. (Psalm 143:8-10, NLT, emphasis added)

You go before me. You prepare tables for me. You prepare works in advance for me to do. Certainly You will equip me.

Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
    He trains my hands for war
    and gives my fingers skill for battle.
He is my loving ally and my fortress,
    my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him. (Psalm 144:1-2, NLT, emphasis added)

Rock, loving ally, fortress, safety, rescuer, shield, Father. I praise you!

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ezekiel, Hebrews, Psalms

Jeremiah 50-52; Hebrews 5

There’s so much rich truth for encouragement in Hebrews, and in this chapter.

But there is one short verse that stands out me today.

Hebrews 5:8 (NIV)

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered”

Jesus was undeniably the Son of God.

And yet, He still had to learn obedience.

He still had to learn submission,

He still had to choose to yield His will to His Father’s.

And how did He learn this submission?

Through suffering.

In the midst of His suffering, He choose submission, and that’s when He was made obedient, and therefore, according to verse 9, perfect.

It’s easy to submit to God when His will matches my own.

It’s easy to submit to God when it does not cost me. When it’s easy, pleasurable, and comfortable.

But that’s not where my faith is proven.

My faith, like Jesus’s, is only proved genuine when I choose submission when it costs me – ultimately, it’s proven through my obedience in the midst of suffering,

In the midst of affliction, my flesh cries out and demands obedience. It’s easy to submit to myself in those moments. It’s easy to turn to food, to entertainment, to distraction. It’s easy to turn to self-defense, to anger, and to resentment.

How I respond to suffering reveals what’s truly in my heart, for better or for worse.

When life is easy, I speak easily and freely of the joy of obedience. But when God brings friction into my life, I must make a choice. I can either obey my flesh, or I can learn obedience through submission to God by doing the right thing at the right time, regardless of how I feel.

Thankfully, I’m not alone in this struggle.

Jesus Himself struggled.

And He overcame.

And now He is my high priest, ready to help me, to strengthen me, to comfort me, and to equip me to overcome as He, Himself, did.

What I have discovered is that when I chose obedience to myself in my suffering, things get worse. But when I choose obedience to God, things get better. And not necessarily circumstantially, but internally, as my attitude improves, peace floods my soul, and my actions honor God.

And the greatest thing of all is that when I choose obedience in suffering, I experience a greater, deeper, and richer relationship with God, as I learn how to depend on His strength and not my own.

 

Father, thank You for your patience with me. Thank You for caring enough about me to let me suffer for the sake of my spiritual growth. Thank You for not leaving me alone in the midst of my suffering. Thank You for the comfort of knowing that Jesus, also, suffered, and He is ready and waiting to help me in my trials. Help me to see my afflictions through Your eyes. Help me to prove my faith genuine by submitting to Your will over and above my own. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Jeremiah 1-4; 1 Timothy 6

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.  Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” The Lord replied, “Don’t say, I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.  And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you.  I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow.  Others you must build up and plant.” Jeremiah 1:5-10 NLT

Fully known, set apart. How much different would I live if I fully comprehended that? Jeremiah struggled to believe it, even after the Lord spoke it to him. He questioned and doubted his influence because of his young age.  What excuses am I making when God has asked me to do something? “I can’t because…” This is exactly where Satan would want me. To live in defeat. When God has called me to live in faith.

“Get up and prepare for action.  Go out and tell them everything I tell you to say.  Do not be afraid of them, or I will make you look foolish in front of them.  For see, today I have made you strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or a bronze wall.  You will stand against the whole land- the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah.  They will fight you, but they will fail.  For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Jeremiah 1:17-19 NLT

It’s hard to get ready if I don’t see a storm coming. My family is going through a storm right now that seemed to hit us out of nowhere. When I find myself being battle weary, I can rest that God knew it was coming. He was preparing me in ways that I didn’t even know.  He provides every step of the way, I just need to look to him.

Fight the good fight for the true faith.  Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your faithfulness.  For your goodness. Thank you that you go before me.  And that nothing I go through will ever be wasted. That you will use it for your glory. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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