Tag Archives: God’s Kingdom

Genesis 41-43; Luke 13; Psalm 5

The truth comes out.

Finally, the king’s chief cup-bearer spoke up. “Today I have been reminded of my failure,” he told Pharaoh (Genesis 41:9, NLT).

Joseph is brought to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.

Seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine, and all the years before that of hiding their deceit, Joseph’s brothers never truly escaped the truth.

21 Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.”

22 “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?” Reuben asked. “But you wouldn’t listen. And now we have to answer for his blood!” (Genesis 42:21-22, NLT)

Jesus cuts through the argument and gets straight to the heart.

14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”

15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”

17 This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did (Luke 13:14-17, NLT).

Lord, you are the truth. I’m grateful that I can place my faith and my heart in your hands. Joseph couldn’t count on the cup-bearer to remember, or his brothers to look out for him before that. Even a daughter of Abraham was left in bondage by the religious. But you are truth, you see truth, you speak truth, you reveal truth. You set us free to walk in the truth–to follow you and walk with you.

Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
    I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
    or my enemies will conquer me.
Make your way plain for me to follow.

My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
    Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
    Their tongues are filled with flattery.
10 O God, declare them guilty.
    Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
    that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
12 For you bless the godly, O Lord;
    you surround them with your shield of love. (Psalm 5:7-12, NLT)

Lead me in the right path, O Lord, make your way plain for me to follow. I only want to walk in truth.

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 11-13; 2 Corinthians 12

In Mark Batterson’s latest book Whisper he shares an experience he had with healing. You see Mark has had asthma since childhood. At the writing of his book he had been healed from asthma by God for 700 plus days. However, the first time he was prayed for in healing the asthma, something else miraculously happened. Mark also had feet that were covered by warts. The next morning after the prayer for healing the warts were gone, but he still had asthma. It was like God was saying to him, “I have the power to heal you, but I have chosen not to do so at this time.” Mark had a thorn in his side that lasted for 35 plus years. That may be why his ministry has been so remarkable and he has been so humble.

Paul’s experience is found below:

Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not exalt myself. 8 Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”

Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ.a For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 [CSB]).

I believe the “good news” is the more prideful you are the more serious the thorns God may give you. He wants us to point to Him always and not to our talents and abilities. His plan for us is to be a vessel that He uses and works through to further His kingdom.

Can you point to any thorns in your life God has given you? These weaknesses are given to you so that God’s glory will shine brighter through you and that through those weaknesses His kingdom will advance.

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Numbers 3-5; Hebrews 12

It is March. I am entering a third month of six where I purposed to make changes in my life after a (last) year that took a physical and emotional toll. While some big things were accomplished (yay!) in February, I noticed the smaller, daily goals weren’t always met. Why was that? I was too tired. I was too busy. I just didn’t care. I thought for a long time about perseverance and endurance and following through.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Hebrews 12:1, NLT)

I knew I needed to be mindful of the things and thoughts that were tripping me up. I looked up scriptures for direction and encouragement, keyword: training. I found a verse that surprised me. In my pursuit of the practical, visible things, I had nearly neglected to consider the spiritual, eternal ones.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. (Hebrews 12:2a, NLT)

Oh, if I look to the wrong reward, how far off will I be from the true mark? Lord, I seek your kingdom.

14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. (Hebrews 12:14-15, NLT)

It is March, and I press on, my grip renewed.

11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. (Hebrews 12:11-13, NLT)

Thank you, Father.

28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire. (Hebrews 12:28-19, NLT)

I praise your name.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 7-8; 2 Chronicles 21; Matthew 6

We are just over two weeks into my daughter’s Celiac diagnosis. I’ve spent that time researching the disease, joining online groups, reading (lots of) books from the library, cleaning out our kitchen, and removing foods we can no longer eat. I got a few cookbooks and was looking forward to relearning how to bake–but when I went online to price the cost of gluten-free flours, I was shocked. As much as I wanted to restock our pantry, it wouldn’t happen overnight.

A friend texted me, “”Listen, the verses that talk about not worrying about what we eat, etc. apply here to (this situation) too. It’s a learning curve and very stressful I know but God is going to direct your steps and He cares so much about (her) health and well being.” I wasn’t sure what verses she was talking about specifically, but they had a ring of familiarity to them. I admit, I was worried–especially when I went to get a loaf of bread and it was $8. I didn’t buy it.

One day, a friend showed up with a bag of gluten-free (GF) products for us–brownie and cookie mixes, crackers, pasta. I was completely taken off guard by her thoughtfulness. Another day, another friend showed up with GF energy bars, a dinner mix and a pasta. A few days later, a neighbor gifted us with almond and coconut flours. Another friend showed up during a thunderstorm with GF waffles, a variety of boxed cereals, pastas and tortillas. And even yesterday, I had been at the grocery store to get corn pasta to make a quick dinner with meat sauce, I thought longingly of a garlicky bread that would be perfect with the dinner. I eyed a little GF loaf, at least a third the size of its wheaty cousin, for $7. I didn’t buy it. But later in the afternoon? I received a package in the mail with boxes full of gluten-free muffins, cookies, and two loaves of bread–purchased for us by a loving relative. (I made garlic butter and put it on one of the loaves.)

My husband and I have been repeatedly amazed at the outpouring of love and generosity.

My heart has been for hospitality–spending time with others and feeding them. But under the new diagnosis, I worried about cross-contamination and cost. How would I keep up?

The same friend who texted me early on in this journey sat at my house last week and said, “If God has put it on your heart to offer hospitality, he will provide. Keep doing what he has wired you to do.” I thanked her for reframing my thoughts.

I am not surprised to read verses today on God’s sovereignty and provision.

Elisha replied, “Listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, six quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver, and twelve quarts of barley grain will cost only one piece of silver.”

The officer assisting the king said to the man of God, “That couldn’t happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!”

But Elisha replied, “You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!” Kings 7:1-2, NLT.

And it was so.

And Gehazi was telling the king about the time Elisha had brought a boy back to life. At that very moment, the mother of the boy walked in to make her appeal to the king about her house and land.

“Look, my lord the king!” Gehazi exclaimed. “Here is the woman now, and this is her son—the very one Elisha brought back to life!”

“Is this true?” the king asked her. And she told him the story. So he directed one of his officials to see that everything she had lost was restored to her, including the value of any crops that had been harvested during her absence. Kings 8:5-6, NLT.

Shazam!

And the verses my friend texted me about? Matthew 6–the verses waiting for me this morning.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:25-34, NLT. (Emphasis mine.)

Thank you, God, for your constant reminders that you’ve got this. The whole world. In your hands. Thank you for these scriptures, that I can come to you and you already know.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 12-14; Luke 9:37-62

We all have stories that define us and tell of who we are. For the Israelites, it was a story of rebellion and falling into the hands of the enemy. For Manoah and his wife, it was a story of unfulfilled longing and empty arms after years of childlessness.  For the father of the child possessed by a demon, it was a story of desperation; watching helpless as his beloved son fell under the spell of a violent demon.

“And the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched,” Judges 13:19

“But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. and they were all amazed at the greatness of God.”  Luke 9:42,43

These stories of ordinary people and recent events in my own life have made me a firm believer that it is by God’s intervention in ordinary lives that history is changed. Consider what the angel told Manoah and his wife about their son, “and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” Judges 13:5.

God’s Kingdom is established one story, one life at a time. Eternal things can grow from the soil of pain and sorrow if submitted to the Master Gardener’s hand.  What is your story? How has God amazed you in the past and where do you long for his healing to come? Never discount your story because it is in you that his Kingdom wants to take root and change the course of history, one life at a time for his glory.  

klueh

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1 Samuel 21, 22; 1 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 1; Psalm 37

When Brene Brown spoke of love and belonging, I was undone. (Not a belonging about fitting in and being like others, but of being accepted for who you are.) She said without one of these (love, belonging), there is suffering.

David forms an army. These men weren’t perfect specimens. Not with words like distressed, debtors and discontent. God uses the broken for his kingdom.

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. 1 Samuel 22:1-2 NIV.

I didn’t fit in former circles. No, I didn’t even belong. No amount of striving would change that. Suffering felt an awful lot like depression. Perhaps God saw as distressed, discontent. No matter. I didn’t have to be perfect. I was perfect for him.

I did the same things still back then: cookie baking, card sending, garden gifting. There was no new result in that field, but there was newness in my heart. Instead of striving for the approval of man, I chose to serve the Lord. That was life before the move, and in the two years of life after I am still cookie baking, card sending, and garden gifting to honor my Lord. I don’t expect to fit, not when I live counter-culture. Two years here, I press on.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity. Psalm 37 NIV

Two years.

Over the weekend a woman who lives nearby walked down my driveway for the first time, sat across from me at the table and was vulnerable. Because of the cookies. Asked for prayer. She called me kind. Jesus sat at the table with us, and I wanted to elbow him and say, “Do you hear this?! You used the cookies! God, you are awesome!”

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 NIV

God, you are faithful. You are mighty. You are good. You were all those things before. And you are all those things today. Thank you for taking this offering and doing more with it than I ever could. It’s all you–for you and about you. Thank you for bringing us here. And for calling me yours.

Courtney (66books365)

Love Came Down

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1 Samuel 12; Romans 10; Jeremiah 49; Luke 17

I can say this about them: They really try to follow God, but they do not know the right way. Because they did not know the way that God makes people right with him, they tried to make themselves right in their own way. So they did not accept God’s way of making people right. Christ ended the law so that everyone who believes in him may be right with God. Romans 10:2-4 (NCV)

Samuel answered, “Don’t be afraid. It’s true that you did wrong, but don’t turn away from the Lord. Serve the Lord with all your heart. Idols are of no use, so don’t worship them. They can’t help you or save you. They are useless! For his own sake, the Lord won’t leave his people. Instead, he was pleased to make you his own people…You must honor the Lord and truly serve him with all your heart. Remember the wonderful things he did for you! 1 Samuel 12:20-22; 24 (NCV)

All people in the core of their beings are searching for more. We desire to fill a gap in our lives that nothing in the world can satisfy. All of the things we seek out to satiate the desire for wholeness can never be compared to the fullness that is found in God.

In my own life, though I was raised in a Christian home, I didn’t truly understand what was being offered to me. I thought I was following God because I memorized scripture verses, went to church, to Christian school, I did my ‘obligatory’ Bible studies…I even said a sinner’s prayer, or two.

I used to believe that following God was about the rituals, the stand up, kneel down, stand up, sit down liturgy. I used to think that if I didn’t have a ‘quiet time’, didn’t read my Bible every day, didn’t  a, b, or, c…that God was going to be angry with me, that I was going to end up in hell, after all. I used to feel judged by the ‘big man in the sky’ for every little thing I did, or didn’t do. When I sinned, I figured I wasn’t worthy of His love in the first place, and no matter how hard I tried, I would always be a failure.

But before people can ask the Lord for help, they must believe in him; and before they can believe in him, they must hear about him; and for them to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them. Romans 10:14 (NCV)

I was searching for that something more, knowing that I felt empty and frustrated that I couldn’t find what I knew was out there.

During a divine encounter, a friend assured me that no matter how long I had been separated from Jesus, all I needed to do was believe. All I needed was to turn around and ‘see’ His arms outstretched, waiting for me to run into them; to trust that His mercies are new every morning.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NCV)

I chose to run toward Him. I chose to believe. I chose to lay my life before the Living God who IS Love and in that moment, I experienced grace. My perception was forever altered, my understanding of relationship with Christ redeemed just as my spirit was restored and my mind was renewed.

Christ is my friend, someone who I want to spend time with and who wants to spend time with me. My bond with Jesus is rooted in freedom, my value established by His sacrifice. Our connection is sealed with joy, jam-packed with love. In my human weakness, I am made strong; in my human failings, I am made perfect. I am in Him and His kingdom is within me.

Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the kingdom of God come?”

Jesus answered, “God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is within you.” Luke 17:20-21 (NCV)

Everyone can experience fulfillment in Jesus. Everyone can experience His grace and His mercy. Everyone can experience His love. Will you join me in freedom?

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Jeremiah, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Romans