Tag Archives: Faith

Judges 6; Acts 10; Jeremiah 19; Mark 5

Sometimes I forget. Like Gideon, I keep my faith hidden and thresh my wheat in the wine press. Like Gideon, I tend to keep expectations low,  dreams limited and focus on getting by. Immediate disappointment is deferred that way, but in His Grace, God’s vision for life is higher than mine. My stale faith and prayers do not limit what God can do. To the contrary, time and time again, He delights in interrupting the normal.

Those interruptions are a gift to the person with the smallest of hopes. Consider the synagogue leader whose daughter is healed, the woman who dares to reach out in the crowd to discretely touch Jesus’s clothing, and the demoniac delivered from the Legion. But for those unable to cope with the fact that they are not in control and life as they know it has been irrevocably altered, the interruptions of God are unwelcome, if not terrifying. I am thinking of the  Gideon’s Midianite and Amalekite neighbors and later the  Gerasene swineherds.

God doesn’t allow me to stay stuck in the past. His ways break through conventions and rules to call me to the unexpected. I prayer that when He calls me to take the next risk, I will be quick to listen and obey as in the case of Cornelius and Peter. His grace enables me to let go of prejudices and old habits that may have served in the past, but will not work today.

Lord, do not allow me to cling to my ability to get it right. Let me hold tightly to the grace to which you have called me by name. Thank you for being my anchor and my hope. Your relentless pursuit of my soul never fails. It’s by the glorious, beautiful name of Jesus that I offer this prayer. Your sufficiency continues to amaze in ways never expected. Amen.

“We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf has entered…” Hebrews 6:19-20.

Kathy

 

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Hebrews, Judges, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark

Judges 3; Acts 7; Jeremiah 16; Mark 2

There are days the tasks I face are things like cutting the grass, doing the laundry, preparing school lessons. There are days the tasks I face are way harder–standing up under scrutiny and judgment, making decisions I never imagined I’d have to, pushing through circumstances that could truly change my heart.

These are the nations that the Lord left in the land to test those Israelites who had not experienced the wars of Canaan. He did this to teach warfare to generations of Israelites who had no experience in battle. These are the nations: the Philistines (those living under the five Philistine rulers), all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the mountains of Lebanon from Mount Baal-hermon to Lebo-hamath. These people were left to test the Israelites—to see whether they would obey the commands the Lord had given to their ancestors through Moses. (Judges 3:1-4, NLT)

In the midst of a battle for my heart, my faith, my words, my actions (in sum, my life), I’m thankful that Jesus is my Savior, my light, my teacher. I look to these words about battles and testing, and I want to cling tightly to my God.

Lord, you are my strength and fortress,
    my refuge in the day of trouble!
Nations from around the world
    will come to you and say,
“Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage,
    for they worshiped worthless idols.
20 Can people make their own gods?
    These are not real gods at all!”

21 The Lord says,
“Now I will show them my power;
    now I will show them my might.
At last they will know and understand
    that I am the Lord. (Jeremiah 16:19-21, NLT)

Stephen recounts a history of God’s faithfulness and direction. Lord, don’t let me be so distracted by an enemy or a battle or a faulty perception that I forget all that you are and all that you have done.

You forgive.

Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5, NLT)

You heal.

10 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Mark 2:10, NLT)

You lead.

14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him. (Mark 2:14, NLT)

You provide.

 27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” (Mark 2:27, NLT)

You make all things new.

22 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 1; Acts 5; Jeremiah 14; Matthew 28

So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:38-42 NLT

Is my walk so close with Jesus that I can truly rejoice in my sufferings? Usually not when I am in the midst of it. My own humanness wants to complain. But, looking back I can see that those were the times that have strengthened my faith. And where God has shown himself most clearly.

Lord, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you. For the sake of your reputation, Lord, do not abandon us. Do not disgrace your own glorious throne. Please remember us, and do not break your covenant with us. Can any of the worthless foreign gods send us rain? Does it fall from the sky by itself? No, you are the one, O Lord our God! Only you can do such things. So we will wait for you to help us.” Jeremiah 14:20-22 NLT

Sometimes it seems that he has left me in the waiting. And there is a drought in my soul. But, he reminds me that he is right there when I call out to him. He promises to be with me.

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NLT

I can still remember back to six  years ago when the Father spoke this verse into my clouded and fearful  mind. Never did I sense His presence more. If I hadn’t gone through that dark time, it wouldn’t have the meaning it has today. When worry strikes again, that day is a much needed reminder to my weary heart. He was with me than and is with me now.

Thank you Father for making a way to always be with me. Thank you for meeting me where I am. I praise you for who you are. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Jeremiah, Judges, Matthew

Joshua 24, Jeremiah 13, Matthew 27, Acts 4

In my Bible next to the passage in Joshua 24 is a handwritten note that says, “Christianity is just one generation away from extinction.” I have never understood that more than when I became a parent. The weight of carrying on a legacy of faith in our family is heavy on my heart. It requires thought, commitment, time, action. Joshua knew his life was coming to an end. He had lead God’s people for decades after Moses died. He followed the Lord’s commands and listened for His voice for direction. Now, he was questioning the people of God to see if they had caught on to his teaching and leading.

After reminding the Israelites of God’s mighty power and protection that they had received as a nation for hundreds of years, Joshua asks the people, not once, not twice, but THREE times whom they will serve.  Joshua said:

 

“Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.”  And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” Joshua 24:23-24.

Service requires commitment and action. We are called to put away (idols) and put on (Christ). We are to look different and act different than the world around us. Often, I find it difficult to hear the Lord because of all that goes on around me. Passing on the legacy of faith is not easy in any day and age but with the buzz of technology that distracts our hearts and minds, I find it increasingly difficult to teach my children to walk with the Lord. Idols are everywhere. They look shiny, they may even appear as service to the Lord.

As a parent, I look to God’s word to help guide me in teaching my children. Joshua was intentional. Not only in his personal walk with the Lord but in teaching it to the people he was leading. He did not take the job lightly. He lead by example and at the end of his life he challenged the people one last time and the people “caught” it:

Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel.” Joshua 24:31

My greatest desire as a mom, is for my children to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and to follow him all the days of their life. That to me is success! Reading further on in God’s word, the nation’s faith declines because they stopped following God’s commands and instead followed the idols of their time. It reminds us as parents and believers that we have must be intentional in passing on God’s word. Jeremiah reminds the people that we must walk closely with the Lord:

For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.” Jeremiah 13:11

Dear Lord, my greatest desire in life is that I do not keep my faith as my own but pass it on to others so that your name would be lifted high. Drown out the distractions of this world and help me to be intentional in my daily walk, clinging only to you. Amen.

Kate

 

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Joshua 11; Psalm 144; Jeremiah 5; Matthew 19

God instructs Joshua to decimate his enemies: hamstring the horses and strike down every breathing enemy–man, woman and child. It’s a blood bath…  the stuff of nightmares. These pages of the Bible leave me with far more questions about God than answers. Where is the God of grace and mercy that I cling to? But who is God if I disregard these pages? I am made in God’s image, not He in mine.

And what would Joshua think of the sanitized bubble that I live in? Perhaps he would be envious; war and violence are realities on television and far from me. Perhaps he would be appalled at my comfortable, complacent living.

David, also a man of war saw the horrors of war first hand and sings this: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues the people under me… I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you, the one who gives victory to kings, who rescues his servant David.” Psalm 144:1,2…9,10.

It’s no wonder that the Jews didn’t understand Jesus. They were looking for a warrior king whose hands were dripping with blood and taking revenge. Instead, comes a king who says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Matthew 19:14  They wanted a kingdom that they could see, a kingdom where they would be in power.

Who is this God we serve? He can wipe nations from the face of the earth and yet calls the youngest and weakest to draw near to him. Are we are in a spiritual war that is just as deadly and God spares us the horrors of seeing all that is going on around us? Paul says as much and repeats the message God spoke to Joshua and the people of Israel: “Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12.

Dear Lord, keep me from being complacent and naive in thinking that what I see is all that is going on. May I be ready and not deceived by the evil one. Heal me from distraction and chasing from false idols so that I may be your woman and follow hard after you. 

Kathy

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Ephesians, Jeremiah, Joshua, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Psalms, Uncategorized

Joshua 9; Psalm 140, 141; Jeremiah 3; Matthew 17

Josh 9:14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD.

 

Matt 17:19-21  Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”

What is missing in both of these passages? I believe it is prayer.

In the first passage, the Israelites were deceived by the Gibeonites.   In fear of God and what he had done in Jericho and Ai, the Gibeonites did not want to be destroyed so they pretended to have come a long distance and that they were not a neighbor in the land of Canaan—the land God had promised to the Israelites.  I think because of their previous victories in these countries, there was a little pride in them.  They knew God was with them.  They looked at the evidence presented and believed what they saw and what the Gibeonites said.  So, they made a treaty with them not to harm them.  They swore by the name of God.  It tells us no one ever stopped to pray to God to see what He had to say about all of this.

In the second passage, the disciples had been healing people and driving out demons in Jesus name. Yet they faced one demon in particular that they were unable to rebuke.  The father was desperate and came to Jesus with his son when the disciples were unable to help him.  Jesus healed the boy immediately.  Later they asked Jesus why this one was difficult for them.  His reply was “Because you have so little faith.”

Paul tells us in 2 Cor 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (ESV)  I found this definition of what it means to walk by faith that really gave me a better understanding of this: To walk by faith is to walk in a spirit of prayerful dependence on the Lord and His guidance. (Commentary on Joshua 9, Bible.org)  It is how Jesus daily lived his life.  He was in constant contact with God and he tells us many times he does only what he’s instructed to do by the Father.  Prayerful dependence.

The Israelites believed what they saw and they were deceived. That can easily happen to us.  We have an enemy who wants nothing more than to deceive us and keep us from living the life God has planned for us.  We need the Holy Spirit to be active in our lives and that only comes from prayer.  Each day we need to be on alert.  We need to get our marching orders from God and never trust things to be as they appear.

The disciples started doubting their ability to do what Jesus had told them to do. What they had done for others was not working this time.  They were walking by sight (I can’t do this). Their faith was weak in the power Jesus had given them. Isn’t that just like something I would do?  I have been blessed by God to do something and soon I am trying to do it in my own power instead of including Him, by praying first?  And then I wonder why I am not succeeding?  I don’t believe Jesus was talking about a literal mountain in this verse (although he could have been) but I think he was referring to the trials we face–the ones that seem insurmountable, like mountains, looming before us.  When we are walking by faith, in prayerful dependence of God, we can handle anything that comes our way.  As Jesus said, “Nothing will be impossible for you.”  I fall short of believing in the power I have been given as well.  Without prayer, I have no faith.

Lord, sometimes I forget how very much I need you and try to live life on my own. It never works.  Instead of moving mountains, I keep walking around the same ones and get stuck.  Only through prayerful dependence on you can I accomplish anything.  Only by constant contact with you can I avoid deception.  Lord Jesus, be ever near.  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

 

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Filed under Joshua, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Uncategorized

Joshua 5-6:5; Psalms 132-134; Isaiah 65; Matthew 13

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; It grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:31 NLT

I can still remember the tiny pin that my bible study leader was wearing. It had a mustard seed inside it. I didn’t realize how minuscule a mustard seed was until that day. She gifted it to me at a time when I was getting weary of my continual prayer request…week after week, for a house. It  spurred my faith on. So, I kept on asking. God answered. Not in the way I thought, but He provided a house for my family.

I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” Isaiah 65:24 : NLT

Even after I see God answer big prayers in my life, I can become forgetful. Sometimes my prayer life gets stagnate. I know in my head that God is faithful. Yet, I become like the Israelites and turn to other things. The summer bible study that I am doing says, “We often do everything but pray” (Beth Moore, Breaking Free).

The Lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes. All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars.” Isaiah 65:2&3 NLT

Because more than anything, I sacrifice peace when I fail to be in His presence. My belief in God’s promises can start to waiver. Instead of focusing on all of His miracles, I can become prideful and my heart can harden.

Where does he get wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers…Where did he learn all these things? And they were deeply offended and refused to believe him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so he did only a few miracles because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:54-57 NLT

Thank you Father for pursuing me. Forgive me for when I look to other people and things to fulfill me. You are my only true source of peace. I want to be found in you. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Filed under 66 Books, Isaiah, Joshua, Matthew, Psalms