Tag Archives: Genesis

Genesis 28-29; Mark 11

A dead fig tree, the desecrated Temple and a lesson on prayer. Jesus intentionally weaves metaphorical, physical and spiritual realities together. At the heart of his message is our relationship with God rooted in prayer.

Jesus carefully inspects the Temple. The next morning, in full view of the disciples he curses the fruitless fig tree. Later that day:

When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, The Scriptures declare, “My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,  but you have turned it to a den of thieves.”  Mark 11:15-17

And back to the cursed fig tree the next morning. The disciples take note that it is withered from the roots up. Then Jesus launches into a lesson on prayer:

I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.  Mark 11:24-26

The fig tree can’t survive with dead roots. Neither can the Temple. The people of Israel were once grounded in prayer, but their hearts turned from God. Prayer has been replaced by self service, power grabbing and stealing from God. The people of God, created in his very image no longer reflected his glory.

What does all this mean for me?  I am made for prayer. God designed me to be rooted in his love. To seek nourishment from anything, anyone other than God is to be rooted in poison. The very God who forgave my sin, the ultimate betrayal, wants me to come into his Presence, but to do that I must be rooted in his grace and love, not in grudge holding, self pity and unforgiveness. What is true for me, is true for everyone. When I pray, God listens; when I believe in him, the miraculous happens.

Father, forgive me for when I fail to extend grace to others as you have done for me. Show me when I hold onto grudges, self pity and pride.  Keep me from seeking nourishment from any source other than you, for you alone are God. Thank you that you hear my prayers. Hold me close when my wandering heart starts to drift from your side. 

Klueh

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Genesis 24-25; Psalm 4; Mark 9

All things are possible for those who believe…

To believe is to have confidence in the truth and the reliability of something, without necessarily having proof that belief is correct. It is a form of faith.

That belief in God’s dependability is demonstrated throughout the whole Bible.

…a servant sent out for a bride…

12The servant said, “Lord, you are the God of my master Abraham. Allow me to find a wife for his son today. Please show this kindness to my master Abraham. 13Here I am, standing by the spring of water. The girls from the city are coming out to get water. 14I will say to one of the girls, ‘Please put your jar down so I can drink.’ Then let her say, ‘Drink, and I will also give water to your camels.’ If that happens, I will know she is the right one for your servant Isaac. And I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” Genesis 24:12-14

…a couple’s desire for a child…

21Isaac’s wife could not have children. So Isaac prayed to the Lord for her. The Lord heard Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant. Genesis 25:21

…and even a father desperate for his son’s restoration to health.

23Jesus said to the father, “You said, ‘If you can!’ All things are possible for him who believes.”

24Immediately the father cried out, “I do believe! Help me to believe more!” Mark 9:23-24

David also believed in God’s steadfastness as a young man and continued in that faith until his death.

1Answer me when I pray to you,

my God who does what is right.

Lift the load that I carry.

Be kind to me and hear my prayer…

7But you have made me very happy.

I am happier than they are,

even with all their grain and wine.

8I go to bed and sleep in peace.

Lord, only you keep me safe.

Ps 4:1; 7-8

The common denominator of each of these snippets of belief is prayer. Each man, in his own way, demonstrated their belief with a faith prayer, trusting that God would not let them down – and true to His character, He didn’t forsake them. God provided a wife for Isaac. Rebekah bore twins. The boy was set free of the demons that were destroying him. David’s load was lifted and he was made happy and given peace and safety.

Sometimes it takes me longer than I’d like to admit to take time to pray when I’m experiencing troubles. When I don’t pray, I slowly start looking away from God’s trustworthiness to my own strength. But when I put my focus back on Him, position myself before Him in supplication and gratitude, my belief, my faith in God opens up myriads of possibilities and His Glory shines through my life.

Yesappa, strengthen my belief in You. Help me walk out my trust through prayer, casting my cares at Your feet, trusting You to provide exactly what I need, when I need it, and being grateful for the peace that comes with knowing You are my Good, Good Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie

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Genesis 3-5 and Mark 2

God created them Adam and Eve, not nincompoops!  It occurred to me while reading Genesis that when God walked in the cool of the garden with Adam and Eve, He talked with them probably about life to come, about love for one another, about creation, and so many other things spiritual, natural, and supernatural. In other words, Adam and Eve didn’t just shuffle along behind Him in stupefied silence – they talked, listened, questioned, and learned. They hung on His every word.

Likewise, when Jesus began His ministry He also walked with the people and preached to them spiritual truths, how to live rightly, and how to believe even in things to come. Like the description in Genesis concerning God’s presence with Adam and Eve, the second chapter in Mark relates the personable, human side of Christ who ate and drank with His disciples, sharing in their hospitality, showing the heart of His Father toward them. Though the religious leaders could not bear to hear His words, the multitude jostled each other to get close to Jesus. Those that persevered with belief in Christ came to understand how God relates to us and us to Him. Jesus said, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him,” (John 14:7).

Reading about God and His Son walking among men and talking with them makes me envy those intimate moments that people shared with them. I long to be physically close to Jesus my Savior so that I could reach my arm around His shoulder or accidentally bump into Him as we walked side by side.

I have a similar longing when I’m talking with my friend on the phone. She lives too far from me to visit; and when I hear her voice, I just wish we were sitting in a coffee shop sharing dessert and patting each other’s hand as we talk, cry, and laugh together – sometimes all in the same conversation!

There is more, however, to satisfy thirst when in Christ’s presence than what is gained from phileo love or a meeting of the minds. This deeper and more intense relationship with Christ is perhaps the same desire of Adam and Eve after the garden tragedy – what was lost intensified the expectation that all things would be set right with the coming of the Messiah. That is what I long for this year from reading God’s Word, meditating on His truths, and wrestling my needs and wants to the holy ground at God’s feet. I expect that all things will be set right…and how else can I hope to touch Him or to be known by His all-consuming love even now?

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Jude, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Genesis 49, 50; Galatians 4

But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:19-20

I can think of many times in my life when the enemy, working through other people, has tried to harm me in some way or another, whether physically or emotionally. In the midst of the experience it is hurtful and frustrating. It often leads to feelings of hopelessness and a total loss of control. In my flesh, the aggravation distracts me and I tend take my focus off of God, putting it instead on the circumstances that surround me.

When I realize that I have stopped looking to God, which sad to say sometimes takes longer than I’d like to admit, I know something has to change. I must put my eyes on Jesus. When I refocus on what matters I am more able to look objectively at what is really happening, and more often than not I can see God working through the difficulties. I can feel His hand on me guiding and comforting. I experience His grace and mercy and peace. He gives me wisdom for the situation and encouragement in the trial.

But sometimes it takes longer for me to see. Sometimes I fail to look to God until the situation has passed and I only see the truth through hindsight. I am grateful that hindsight is 20/20. It allows me to see the whole picture, the big picture. It allows me to see exactly where God was using the state of affairs to teach and grow me and it allows me see where He was carrying me through when I felt like I was all alone. It allows me to see the good that God produced from something horrible in my life and made it turn out for the best.

I truly believe that everything that I go through, even the bad experiences, are going to be used by God in moments of my future for the good of myself and/or someone else. I know that every challenge I survive gives me experiential knowledge that I can pass on; it gives me authority over an area of struggle and allows me to stand in the gap for others.

The enemy wants to kill and destroy me, but God redeems and restores everything in my life, using the enemy’s plans to harm me and brings something wonderful out of the ashes of my life.

Yesappa, Thank You.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Genesis 26, 27; Mark 10

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

One of the greatest aspects of being a parent is the ability to see everything fresh through my children’s eyes. Everything is new to them, even if they’ve seen it before. Everything is exciting, even when they’ve done it before.

Over the holidays, my parents and I decided to take my children for a drive to find Christmas lights in the nearby neighborhoods. We all loaded into the van after dinner and started driving looking for the decorated houses. It didn’t take long to find them, and the girls went crazy, oohing and aahing, squealing with joy at something as simple as lights in the darkness of the evening.

They do the same thing with Jesus. They love to hear Bible stories and sing songs about Jesus (amazingly I often hear my girls singing “You make me brave” at the top of their lungs when they are playing in their room). They accept who He is without questioning if He’s real. They accept everything He’s done without wondering whether or not they are worthy. They revel in His love. They dance with all their might in His presence. They accept every good thing He gives and expect nothing less than the best. They are princesses and prince(s), coheirs with Christ, and they don’t doubt that for a second. They don’t worry about what someone else might think about their relationship with their Heavenly Father, they don’t worry about ‘works’ they just jump into His arms, so to speak, and are blessed.

I remember times in my walk with God where I was like that little child, but more recently the cares of life have crept onto my shoulders and weighted me down; I became an adult trying to survive and my spirit has suffered for it. The responsibilities of ‘doing’ have taken over – because someone has to cook, clean, and wipe runny noses – and I have neglected simply ‘being’.

I watch my girls, especially on Sundays, dancing and waving flags and having fun, and while I really enjoy watching them expressing their love and freedom, I am also jealous to experience even a small piece of that again. A part of me wants to cast off the responsibility, the ‘Martha-like’ to-do list, the worry of ‘who is going to watch my kids’, and immerse myself like a little child in God’s presence, in Heaven on earth. And, a part of me is scared that I have forgotten how to enter in, how to let go, how to let my guard down enough to let the little girl escape her ‘duties’ and encounter joy.

I’m not sure what the answer is. I am not sure how to balance being an adult and being child-like. But I know that I want to be received into Jesus’ arms and be blessed just like a little child.

Yesappa, thank You for loving me. Thank you for blessing me with Your gift of grace. Will you give me wisdom for becoming like a little child before you? Will you meet me where I am and heal my spirit, heal my heart? Will You show me how to let go and let God? Thank You for showing me the way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Genesis 12-15, Psalm 148, Mark 5

Have you ever been given a vision? Maybe even just a whisper in your heart that you know is not from you. A quiet whisper that comes out of nowhere and you know is from somewhere deeper. I love how God isn’t afraid to use humans in his master plan. If it were me, I would be looking for the most perfect and obedient people to do my Kingdom work but that’s not how God works. He used simple old Abram. We don’t know much about Abram but what we do see is simple faith. One foot in front of the other, blind faith. Abram’s faith journey starts out like many of ours does. A tiny seed of faith that builds as time goes on. He stumbles and questions and fails but throughout his journey, God uses him over and over to show us his love.

God whispered to Abram early on in his journey, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you And I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing”. That was it. Just follow me and I will make you the Father of many nations. Abram goes but immediately shows his human nature when he weaves a tangled mess of lies with Sarai and Pharaoh. I love it. I’m not the only one who believes and then doubts. There’s hope for me, yet!!!!

And just a few chapters later, another whisper, “Abram, Look toward heaven and number the stars, if you are able to number them. So shall your offspring be.” God’s word says that, “Abram believed and it was counted to him as righteousness.” But once again, another failure. Just a few verses later Abram questions God with his human and near sighted mind. How could he be the father of many nations without even one son?
God’s whispers often come quietly and in short obscure ways. Maybe just a piece of the puzzle, without clarity or reason, because our human mind cannot fathom His ways. I look back on times in my life when God has whispered quietly to my heart. Often times, I am frustrated because I don’t understand what those whispers mean. “God, don’t just give me a tiny piece, I want the whole thing!” I remember a very specific time God whispered and incomplete tiny piece of a puzzle to my heart. I was terrified and excited all at the same time. It took months before all the pieces came together, 9 months to be exact. But when the pieces finally came together, I had peace knowing God’s plan is way bigger than mine. If I had known all the details of his plan up front, I wouldn’t have moved. Fear would have gripped me, paralyzed me. I literally wouldn’t have left my house.
When I read this passage, I am encouraged by Abram’s faith and doubts. His humanness shows me that to do God’s kingdom work you do not have to be perfect just willing. Willing to put one foot in front of the other, day by day, moment by moment. God’s fulfillment of the promise to Abram was never based on what Abram did or didn’t do for him. And that one sided promise between God and Abram is the same promise he makes to me through his son, Jesus.

Dear Jesus, thank you for revealing your plan to my heart in your perfect timing. Thank you that there is nothing I need to “do” to keep the promise you made to me. Praise the name of Jesus! ~ Amen

kateredding

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Exodus 9-13; Matthew 18:1-20

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.” Exodus 10:1-2

In the Exodus story, Moses repeatedly shares that God purposely hardened the heart of Pharaoh and his servants. Pharaoh would not listen to the decree of God to ‘Let My people go’. God didn’t want the liberation of the Israelites to become an event that was quickly forgotten. He wanted to demonstrate His glory and His power in a memorable way so that all would ‘know that I am Lord’. God dealt with the Egyptians harshly and without mercy; forgiveness did not enter into the picture.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17

In Matthew, Jesus describes how to maneuver in situations of offense and sin. If I go to the offender and he listens, than I have gained a brother. But if his heart is hardened, Jesus said to let the wrongdoer be to me as a gentile and a tax collector.

What does that really mean in the context of New Covenant?

I have observed that a very common Christian assessment of that verse is that when someone doesn’t listen to the church, that they should be excommunicated, cut off and shunned by that group.

I’ve been in the situation where I was treated this way by a community that I had grown very close to. The situation was complicated, and though I know that my heart was right before God, I was still cast aside. I felt rejected by trusted friends, abandoned by people I had shown my vulnerabilities. Being discarded hurt then, and the wounds it left still hurt now at times; it began my search to better understand what Jesus intended.

…If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love. Matthew 18:17 (MSG)

I love the way The Message describes the way I should treat someone who isn’t ready to own up to their failings. The version doesn’t say reject, cast-off, snub. It says to start over, to confront and offer God’s forgiving love. The Bible exhorts me to forgive, nearly 500 times if necessary, and in the same way I would hope to be forgiven. God’s Word encourages me to love my enemies, to bless and pray for my persecutors. His Word reminds me of the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for me while I was still a sinner and His constant mercy when I inevitably make mistakes as a believer.

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. Matthew 18:11 (NKJV)

Though many versions omit this verse, it still holds true that Christ’s goal is to save the lost. He yearns for redemption, reconciliation, and restoration. He wants to rebuild honor, reestablish relationship, and reinstate original positioning, with Him and with others. He does that daily by offering His body and His blood. He seeks out the lost, whether they have never seen the Good Shepherd or have simply strayed away from the flock and offers forgiveness, ushering them into the fold.

While walking the earth, Jesus treated gentiles (unclean, polytheistic ‘heathens’), tax collectors, prostitutes and every other kind of sinner with mercy and grace. Though He didn’t condone their behaviors, He spent time with them. He demonstrated love and acceptance; and that witness was what opened eyes to sin and lead to change of heart, to repentance.

I can only believe that God asks me to do the same – to offer love, compassion, mercy, and forbearance – as He extends to me.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your forgiveness, Your grace, and Your mercy. Thank You for seeking me out when I am lost. Thank You for accepting me no matter what. Keep my heart soft, repentant before You at all times. Help me be a pipeline for Your love forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (written in Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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