Tag Archives: Faith

Isaiah 34-35; Ephesians 2

At some point, the crickets’ song took over summer, reminding that a new season approaches. During a morning walk, honking geese overhead shake me from a summer dream almost like an alarm–a new season approaches. I remember thinking, “It’s only July–you’re going the wrong way!”

My calendar said there was still plenty of time. But suddenly it’s two weeks later and two more to go will go in a blink. When I was young, the days seemed long. Now I find myself wishing for more hours in the day.

Lord, help me to keep a Kingdom focus. When I find myself small, discouraged, I want to remember, you are mighty.

16 Search the book of the Lord,
    and see what he will do.
Not one of these birds and animals will be missing,
    and none will lack a mate,
for the Lord has promised this.
    His Spirit will make it all come true (Isaiah 34:16, NLT).

A friend reminded me, the Lord is a redeemer.

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
    The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
    and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
    as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory,
    the splendor of our God.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
    and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
    He is coming to save you.” (Isaiah 35:1-4, NLT, emphasis added)

A changing of seasons seems almost imperceptible when I operate in the daily–laundry, schedules, appointments. One day the trees are budding. Another day, I am aware of the rich aroma of full flowers saturating the air. Now the mornings have a pleasant chill that make me want to run faster and farther. A kingdom here, a kingdom near, and I am reminded I am his.

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-8, NLT).

An accuser wants me weak and fearful–unwanted, worthless, abandoned. Faith tells me I belong. I am his.

19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family (Ephesians 2:19, NLT).

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 26-29; Romans 16

“In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation.  Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter.  You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.  Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.” Isaiah  26:1-8 NLT

Am I building walls around my mind to keep the enemy out? Or am I willingly letting him in? These questions come to my mind as I read these verses.  I let my guard down and fear can creep in when I least expect it. Isaiah 26:3 has been a refuge to me when I am going through a dark time. It reminds me that trust is greater than fear. And I ask Jesus to fill me again.

“The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord.  The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.  That is why the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the people of Israel, “My people will no longer be ashamed or turn pale with fear.  For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob.  They will stand in awe of the God of Israel.” Isaiah 29:19, 22-23 NLT 

I am in a season where I am in need of fresh joy.  There has been hard battles fought in my family and I am weary.  But, these verses give me hope. I see God working in our midst and I am in awe.  He still does miracles today.  He still restores and makes broken things whole. May I never grow tired of that.

“But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord.  That makes me very happy.  I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong.  The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.  May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” Romans 16:19 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your faithfulness.  I am humbled by how you would use someone like me.  Thank you for always directing my path.  Help me to fill my mind with your word. This is the true battle.  Thank you for your promises to always be with me. Amen.

“ In the night I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek you.” Isaiah 26:1-9 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Isaiah 6-7; 2 Chronicles 26-27; Romans 3

My phone sounded an alarm as the storm moved in. I figured it was a warning about the coming storm or a flash-flood. Our friends were pulling in the driveway and I stepped outside as the rain just began to fall gently. The winds were a little gusty, and I was surprised at the cracking sounds of tree and limb I heard from the woods. We got inside as the downpour began. My oldest watched from the window and saw the trees shaking in the storm. I chatted my friend until the rain let up and she could drive safely on.

The news had come to the royal court of Judah: “Syria is allied with Israel against us!” So the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm (Isaiah 6:2, NLT).

It turns out the alarm was about taking shelter because we were under a tornado watch. I didn’t see the full of the message until 30 minutes later, after the watch period was over. I truly thank God for all the ways He shelters me and protects me and provides for me.

Unless your faith is firm,
    I cannot make you stand firm (Isaiah 7:9b, NLT).

I think on storms and faith and fear. I think on times my heart trembles, shaking, and times I’ve felt my spirit steady and cling to Him in the storm. He tells me He watches over me and shows me how He protects me from threats I’m not even aware of.

27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. 30 There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law (Romans 3:27-31, NLT).

Only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law. Faith is so powerful and yet so simple. I hold it like a jewel and turn it over in my hands, like a beautiful gift. Oh, love.

Lord, I treasure you. You surprise me. You amaze me. I’m so very grateful you love me. So very grateful to be called yours.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, Romans

Jonah 1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4

“But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord.  He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish.  But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart.” Jonah 1:3&4 NLT

Even though I find it a little funny that Jonah tried to get away from the Lord.  I think about times in my own life when I have done the same.  I am thankful for a Father who presses in and doesn’t leave me in my wondering.  He gently brings me back to him.  He hears my cries for help. And answers me.

“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.  He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me.  I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me!  You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea.  The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild stormy waves.  Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence.  Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me.  Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.  I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.  I was imprisoned by the earth, whose gates lock shot forever.  But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord.  And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple…For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” Jonah 2:1-9 NLT

I can relate to Jonah more than I’d like to admit.  He not only let fear get the best of him and he fled.  But, he was letting his feelings of anger and bitterness cause him to disobey.  He had to give up his control of the situation. And let God handle it.  What situations am I trying to control?

“The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” Then Jonah went to the east of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen in the city.”  Jonah 4:4 NLT

God let Jonah wrestle through his feelings.  He was patient and merciful. He asked him a question, instead of trying to tell him how to feel.

Thank you Father for your patience towards me.  For working through the process even when it is hard.  For understanding my pain, but not wanting me to stay there.  Give me a love for others that only comes from you. Amen.

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.  Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11&12 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

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2 Kings 6-8; 2 Chronicles 20; Matthew 28

2 Kings 6:15-17 (NIV)

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

My father once said fear reveals that we’re walking by sight. It’s true. It’s far too easy to get caught up in what we see and to become overwhelmed as a result.

Like Elisha’s servant, I often suddenly find myself in some circumstance that takes me by surprise and seems impossible to overcome. And much like the servant, I cry out, “Oh no! What am I going to do?!” believing it depends on me to solve the problem.

But Elisha had faith, and he calmed the servant down by encouraging him with the truth of what was unseen – “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And when Elisha prayed, the Lord opened the servant’s eyes to see what was unseen – God’s power and might that was at work behind the scenes.

Now I’ve never been surrounded by an angry army, but I’ve had plenty of other trials and problems that have felt just as intimidating. The temptation is to give in to fear and attempt to take matters into my own hands. It’s in those moments that I must choose to remember God’s promise that He who is in me is greater than the one in the world. I must choose to remember God’s promise to be with me and never to leave me nor forsake me. I must choose to remember God’s love that is working all things for my good. I must choose to remember how God has delivered me before so that I can have faith that He will do it again.  Ultimately, I must choose to surrender to God’s plan and stop trying to fix it myself.

In 2 Chronicles we see a similar situation unfold when Jehoshaphat finds out that there are three armies on their way to wage war against him. Overwhelmed, he gathers the people to stand before God and they cry out for help and direction. They remind God of His promises, and they beg Him for direction. And they refuse to act until He answers.

2 Chronicles 20:12-13 (NIV)

“Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.

And God DID answer:

2 Chronicles 20:15-17, 20-23 (NIV)

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.  Tomorrow march down against them. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

God told them they would not have to fight the battle, but to still prepare for war. And so by faith, they fixed their eyes on God’s power and promise. By faith, they suited up and set out. By faith, they sang praises to God. And when they began to sing, God began to deliver. And God is no partial deliverer, either – true to His word, by the time they arrived, there was no one to fight! Instead, they were rewarded with treasures so bountiful it took 3 days to bring everything home.

A line in a favorite song of mine says, “Come, Lord, do what only You can do – You can do anything!” I’m so thankful that God works behind the scenes in my life. God works in my praying. He works in my praises. When I choose faith, I choose Him; and He can do anything.

 

Father, please forgive me for my tendency to focus on what I see, and what I can do. Forgive me for trying to figure things out on my own and take matters into my own hands. Help me to remember that You know what you’re doing. You’re in control. You’re working in my waiting. You’re working in my praying. You’re working in my worship. Lord, I choose faith. I choose to focus on You instead of what I see, and I choose to remember that even when it looks like I’m surrounded, I know that I’m really surrounded by You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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Song of Solomon 4-6; Matthew 19

Matthew 19:16-30 NIV

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Ah, how much of myself I see in this rich young man.

This young man was arrogant enough to think he had a right to heaven by his deeds. And if I’m honest, I have to admit, there are times when I fall into the trap of focusing on my works and glorifying myself. “At least I’m not like…”

Jesus was patient with this young man, and I’m thankful He extends the same loving-kindness to me. Instead of rushing to point out all of the failures this man was hiding, Jesus instead took it one step further and brought him to the heart of the matter – and He does the same for me.

It’s not about what I technically do or say that’s right. Jesus wants more than that – He wants my heart. And not just a piece of it – the whole thing. But I like to argue with Him. “But God, why can’t I keep this and have you, too? Isn’t enough that I don’t do this other thing? Isn’t enough that I do this good thing?”

The young man turned away sad when Jesus asked for His heart. It’s easy to dismiss this man as being foolish, but how many times do I initially respond the same way when Jesus reveals a change that needs to take place in my heart? “God, I don’t know if I can do this…”

But Jesus doesn’t apologize for asking me to surrender. Instead, He promises to be worth it. He won’t fail me, and He won’t forget me. You know what will? That little piece of my heart that I’m trying to keep.

For the rich young man, it was his money and comfort. For me, it’s control. For others, it’s a relationship. A habit. That one thing they don’t know how to live without. But it will always end in suffering.

Jesus offers a better solution. He offers Himself. And with Him, everything else.

“Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” –CS Lewis

Lord, keep me from chasing things and people that won’t satisfy. Forgive me for seeing comfort and security in the things and people of this world – and ultimately, for seeking those things within my own heart. I know that You are worth leaving everything for. You’ve never failed me yet, and you won’t start now. Help me to remember Your faithfulness, and help me to persevere in following You above anything else. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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Proverbs 29-30; Psalms 60 & 33; Matthew 13

“His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to people?” He replied , “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven, but others are not.  To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have abundance of knowledge.  But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.  That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see.  They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.” Matthew 13:10-13 NLT

I pray for the Holy Spirit to give me insight and wisdom when reading God’s word.  I find that especially in this, He meets me where I am.  He prods me to dig deeper.  I have learned that the more I read of it, the more hungry I am for it.  The more understanding I have.  But, it is not for knowledge alone.  Am I being changed? Is my heart in the right place?  Am I fearful or discouraged? Those are usually red flags for me that I haven’t picked up my bible in too long.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.  I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it.”  Matthew 13:16 NLT

Once I get into his word, my eyes are opened. And I wonder what took me so long.  Why was I scrolling through Instagram or filling my mind with other things? Distraction after distraction. And I wonder why I am weary and tired.  He is always ready and waiting for me to turn to Him.  “But if the source of our satisfaction is anything other than God’s word, a relationship with Jesus, and the power and friendship of the Holy Spirit, our souls will suffer.  What we are truly thirsting for is God.  He is our source of living water.  Nothing else will be able to weep into every part of us. Nothing else will be able to refresh, restore and transform us.  Nothing else will ever truly satisfy our soul.” Lysa Terkeurst

“For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.  But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.  We put our hope in the Lord.  He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  Let your unfailing love surround us Lord, for our hope is in you alone.” Psalms 33:4, 18-22 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your word.  Thank you that it is truth. I pray for a deeper love for your word. Amen.

“With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes.” Psalms 60:12 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

 

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