Tag Archives: God

2 Samuel 8,9; 2 Corinthians 2; Ezekiel 16; Psalms 58,59

My wife and I were watching a sermon on grace a few days ago and halfway through she said, “Isn’t this to simple?”  We dialogued afterwards and realized how glad we were that it was.

Can you imagine Mephibosheth’s reaction to grace?

David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan; I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.” 2 Samuel 9:7 NRSV

Do I want that kind of grace, that kind of kindness – for sure I do – for I clearly am a fallen sinner in need of this kind of God’s grace – one who does not deserve it, could never earn it and would never be able to repay it.

My wife and I were also challenged in how we communicate grace to others – and we named a few people in our lives where that needed to be our focus.

For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. 2 Corinthians 2:4 NRSV

We affirmed that there definitely is a grace that needs to be exhibited in our communication styles for at some point we too have come from a place of joy received from the recovery of grace.

I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord God. Ezekiel 16:62-63 NRSV

Yes, my wife and I had the same trouble most of us have – cannot talk about grace without talking about judgement. We both concluded that the all-important work of atonement was not overlooking sin, but our sin being covered by God’s marvellous grace.

O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.  Psalm 59:17 NRSV

With a bit of study, I found the Aramaic Bible translates that last part of this verse as, “and the God of my grace!” Yes, there my wife and I have found our joy as followers of Christ.

When I think of grace, I think of Your presence.  Wherever we may be found today and in whatever activity we may be engaged in, may we gather there with Your favour.  Lord, by Your favour, we mean favour us with Your grace, and with the love of God the Father, and with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

evanlaar

 

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I Samuel 31; I Corinthians 11; Ezekiel 9; Psalm 48

The men of Israel had fled from the lost battle, and Saul and his sons were dead, their headless bodies attached to a wall. “Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted for seven days.” I Samuel 31:11-13.

For all his faults and even though the kingdom was torn from his hands, Saul was still mourned and honored in his death. Sometimes I wish that I could undo all the mistakes and missteps I made in digging my own pit. Truly, the resurrection power of Christ Jesus that lives in me is the only force that could pull me up and out of those dark places.

Even so, I have experienced times when God seemed far away from me. At such times, I have examined my motives and my works to learn how far I have gone from Him. Corinthians 11:30-32 “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

Often, during those times, my family and others have commented on the blessings of God observed in my life. Their remarks confirm to me the unique position believers have in Christ Jesus. God illustrated that fact when speaking through Ezekiel and other prophets in the Bible to remind us that He marks His own.

Ezekiel 9:4 “…and the Lord said to him, ‘Go through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.’” I think of my many prayers to the Lord – admitting helplessness over things I have no power to change. Why does He come near? Because I am good – no! Because I am marked by Him; I am His own, and He alone is able to save.

I look around and the signs of God’s presence are everywhere – He is in the beauty of His creation; He is in His people, the Church; He is in the sacrifices and the tender gestures of the strong and the weak. He is here right now.

Psalm 48:12-14 “Walk about Zion, And go all around her. Count her towers; Mark well her bulwarks; Consider her palaces; That you may tell it to the generation following. For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”

There is no place I would rather be, Dear Lord God, than here and now to be in Your presence!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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1 Samuel 23; 1 Corinthians 4; Ezekiel 2; Psalm 38

Any story of David inspires me somewhere along my journey of faith.  One that has dramatically made a difference was calling on God and asking His input on any decision that I had to make.

David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” The Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” – I Samuel 23:2 NRSV

The entire act of prayer is one of humility – that is for sure – but the practice of listening and hearing God’s voice as David did – that was revolutionary in my life.

You can imagine when you walk in a room and declare that “I have heard from God.” A bit scary because it kind of slants the position of power in the room.  I learned quickly that what God shared with me was for my information and that I was to dispense what I knew in love.

For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power. What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? – 1 Corinthians 4:20-21 NRSV

And yet, there are moments, when speaking into the lives of others, especially when I am preparing a sermon to deliver to a wide audience on a Sunday morning – I need to remember to speak His Words – they are life, and mine are not.

 You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear; for they are a rebellious house.  – Ezekiel 2:7 NRSV

This is actually important stuff – listening to God – what happens if He does not say anything?  One story comes to mind right away – Saul refusing to wait for Samuel to give him instructions and blessing for an upcoming battle.  He felt so threatened that he went ahead without waiting.  David comes back to me again and screams at me – wait, wait I say on the Lord!  If I am going to listen, I am going to have to wait for an answer.

But it is for you, O Lord, that I wait;
    it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. – Psalm 38:15 NRSV

Thank you Lord for your gracious patience as I learn to wait.  Your grace makes my journey of faith enjoyable, exciting and adventurous.  As I continue to learn so much from David’s walk with You, may the moments where I feel I have waited enough or too long, be just that, moments.  Instead may my heart rest on the fact that I trust You completely – so my hope is in no other. Amen

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1 Samuel 7,8; Romans 6; Jeremiah 44; Psalm 20,21

Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” – 1 Samuel 7:3 NRSV

If you are like me, a follower of Jesus, then you and I have answered this question of choice and if I am honest – I have to choose everyday and every day I have to choose Jesus.  For me, if I do not, I find myself being okay with certain weaknesses and falling for certain temptations and then declaring them to be in the realm of grace

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? – Romans 6:1 NRSV

The answer is definitely a big NO! So what is my problem, why do I think it is okay?

But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their wickedness and make no offerings to other gods. – Jeremiah 44:5 NRSV

I find my relationship with God falls into a pattern, a grove, a comfortable “method” or “process” and as busy as I am in adoration, confession, thankfulness, and supplication – I miss the most important part of any relationship – listening.  While I have been busy talking, I forget to listen – how does God want to respond to what I have just said or how does He want to engage Himself into my day?  I do not know and maybe I don’t because in some weird moment of time – I might admit that I do not want to know.

I think you know where this is going – throw in some trouble and what do I do? Yes, I call on God. This is where it get’s tricky – I feel that since I did not spend much quality time with Him that I do not deserve to call on Him.  Wow – so simple to get pushed even further away from God.   But I know this – His grace is sufficient and as my Heavenly Father, He cares.  I can always call out His name and He is there.

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
    The name of the God of Jacob protect you! – Psalm 20:1 NRSV

Lord, if I have to forgive others as much as You have forgiven me, that is a whole lot more than 70 x 7!  How thankful I am for your grace, but more thankful that You never allow the Holy Spirit to leave me – I am convicted of my sin and I find my way back to You.  I bless You for Your faithfulness – thank You for Your protection.  I can always count on You.  I pray that my faithfulness will grow as we grow in our relationship together and that I would rather do the things You would like me to do as opposed to the things I want to do for myself.  Thank You for bringing me into Your space and allowing me to be a part of Your family.

evanlaar

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Numbers 33; Psalm 78:1-37; Isaiah 25; 1 John 3

Children are so important.  It does not matter what age of the world we look into, children play an incredible role as we see them as a gift to our families.  When I think of the one and final plague in Egypt – the one that finally turned Pharaoh decision – it was the loss of every family’s first born.

They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the passover the Israelites went out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians, while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them. – Numbers 33:3-4 NRSV

Being a Christian Education Coordinator in my church helped me focus on the children and their families.  It was there that I learned how weak our education perspective was compared to other faith traditions.   I spent 17 hours a year with my kids in direct biblical education while the others were closer to 400 and 600 hours.  I lot of that had to do with traditional celebration periods, but still, it was engagement with God’s Word.  So it is no surprise to see this call to action in the Psalms —

He established a decree in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children; that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and rise up and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their ancestors, stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God. – Psalm 78:5-8 NRSV

Here I am today – I am called a child of God.  I know I need to spend time getting to know my Father.  This world is not where my hope lies, it lies with my Him.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he[a] is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. – 1 John 3:1-3 NRSV

My prayer today is similar to the one Isaiah prayed —

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. – Isaiah 25:1

As Your child Lord, I yield myself into Your hands that you may shape me and mold me and then may I be used by You to glorify Your name. Amen.

evanlaar

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Leviticus 16; Psalm 19; Proverbs 30; 1 Timothy 1

Sometimes when I concentrate so much on my friendship with God, I forget I am made holy only through the blood of Jesus.  For God is a holy God and for the people in the New Testament and in the Old Testament who forgot that, died.

The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the Lord and died. – Leviticus 16:1 NRSV

This Old Testament example must have made Aaron scared to even enter the tabernacle to serve God.  He had to come to a place where he understood that holiness was given to him in order for him to serve, but it did not cancel his sin.

I hear people say that we do not need the Old Testament anymore – but look at the words they are missing that declare God’s Word…

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. – Psalm 19:7-9 NRSV

The Scriptures are just that – holy – of more benefit to me than the air I breathe.  I need God’s Word to see His holiness, to see a way out of my sin.  It provides a direction that is true – a fountain of lasting hopes.  By them I discover my need for a Saviour.

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. – Proverbs 30:5  NRSV

I found this promise is echoed in the New Testament too – His Word is holy, His commandment is holy and just and good.

This is really important to me – I know that Jesus is the Word – and in Jesus I have hope.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope – 1 Timothy 1:1  NRSV

The Old Testament still wraps it up nicely – I am Holy, and besides me there is no saviour.

Lord God, Father, You are holy, You are true.  Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to be a Saviour to all who want to follow You.  May Your Word continue to strengthen me, guide me, lead me and may I yield to You in all that You ask of me.  I love You – thank you for seeing no sin in me because of Jesus and for accepting me into Your presence to be loved and to love You right back.  I want to be holy as You are holy.

evanlaar

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Exodus 33; John 12; Proverbs 9; Ephesians 2

I may be a bit morbid, but I think a lot about the living and the dead. On one level I am asking the ageless questions about who lives and who dies and why. These questions pave the path of pain that leaves a jagged swatch of loss I cannot conceal. If you know me well, you have sat with me during those times of grief. On a deeper level I am wrestling with existential crisis questions such as the meaning and purpose in this life. These thoughts are universal.

In John 12:1 we read, “Then, six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.” How fitting that Jesus would be in the house of the man who had tasted death and returned to life after three days!” Perhaps Jesus thought of His own imminent physical death by crucifixion. Can you imagine how that memory of seeing Lazarus walk from the cave into the light and now sitting next to him impacted Christ? Was this inspiration for Jesus to prophecy His own death?  Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain,” (John 12:23). The souls saved through the miracle of raising Lazarus would pale in numbers to the generations of souls saved through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So what did Lazarus do to deserve life after death (the first time)? Can we add to a lifespan, or is the numbering of our days unlikely to change? My curiosity was piqued after reading this interesting passage in Proverbs 9:10-11. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding, For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you,” (my emphasis.) Can it be that life is extended through the wisdom and word of God?

Of course, my next thought is an automatic negative one that says, “Yea, but what if I have molded the golden calf?”

Sometimes the New Testament Jesus is preached as if Christ brought love to a world which had only known the wrath of the God of the Old Testament. I’ve come to believe that this line of thinking may be an example of how our ways are not like His. For in Exodus 33:18, 19 when Moses had asked for a demonstration of God’s favor (remember this is after the Israelites’ faithless worship of their man-made golden calf). God said, “I shall make all My goodness pass before you, and I shall call out with the Name Hashem (Mercy) before you; I shall show favor when I choose to show favor, and I shall show mercy when I choose to show mercy.” God was about to show Moses the 13 Attributes of Mercy (see Exodus 34,) that Moses was to teach His people. God wanted them and us to invoke these attributes of mercy in prayers.

Mercy is for the living. Ephesians 2:1,4, and10 declares, “And you He made alive…God who is rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

My prayer: God, give me revelation and understanding. Without Your mercy, I have nothing. And like Moses, I say that without Your Presence, I will not move. Even though I have done nothing to deserve Your favor, I seek Your goodness through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, my Savior. Praise You for however many days to come, continually living in Your presence.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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