Tag Archives: gospel

2 Kings 18-19, 2 Chronicles 32, Psalm 67, 1 Corinthians 9

Hezekiah and Paul. At first glance two completely different and opposite people separated by hundreds of years. One, a king over an established nation of people and the other a servant and preacher at the infancy of Christianity. Their differences make their similarities stand out to me.

 

Though he was raised by his King father who did not follow God’s commandments, Hezekiah led his people in the way of the Lord and in turn received blessings and protection. His purpose in the serving the Lord:

“And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.” 2 Chronicles: 31:21

And even in the face of trial and potential death for his entire kingdom, Hezekiah remained faithful and encouraged his people to do the same. He pointed them back to the one who had remained faithful to them and he encouraged his people:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria ad all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with them. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” 2 chronicles 32:7-8

 

Paul’s story was similar in nature. Raised as a devout Jew and after years of living as a self- described highest of all Pharisees and judging others, Paul, through the Holy Spirit came to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord of all. His incredible conversion experience led him to have a heart of complete and utter service to the Lord. Paul’s purpose was to spread the good news of the gospel no matter the cost. He wanted to make sure his life was never a hindrance to others faith.

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all that I might win more of them”. 1 Corinthians 9:19

Paul’s encouragement to his fellow believers was to never give up hope, pushing forward for the eternal prize of glory.

“I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with the min its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only can receive the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So, I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-27

 

May our hearts’ cry and prayer be, “In all things may God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, so that His way may be known on earth, and His saving power among all nations. Let the people praise you, O God!” Psalm 67.

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I Samuel 30-31; Luke 17:20-37

Taken.  Left behind. The popular idea is that the righteous will be taken and the unredeemed will be left behind. But what if the unrighteous are taken to a quick, eternal judgment and God’s elect are left in the field, at their work station, or in the bed that was once shared with a loved one (Luke 17:17:34-36).

I have often wondered about this.  How will I be able to stand myself knowing that the people I loved or associated with, or those who counted on me, or looked up to me…are gone…dead in their sins, literally, eternally? I’m not saying that I am judging others around me as if I know their eternal future; yet by their own admission, I am aware of many who do not call Jesus Christ their Lord.

When David, Israel’s king, was yet to be given that title, he commanded a military.  They obeyed all that he said and were willing to sacrifice their own lives for him. When he said to follow him into battle, they left children and wives and families behind.  On one occasion, they returned to the city to find that all their families, goods, and livestock had been taken.  The first thought that popped into their heads was to stone David. He could have tried to save himself, but he chose to pursue the enemy and take back all that was stolen.

During this same time in history, David’s enemy, King Saul, sought to kill David.  Yet Saul’s army was attacked, and because he feared being taken, he fell upon his own sword. His body was still taken by the Philistines, and he was beheaded and his body fastened to the wall.  We learn later that David mourned for Saul.

Like David, I mourn for those who may be taken.  There will be a resurrection, and I fear what their souls will experience in the darkness that awaits them.  I just finished watching The Passion, and one theme in the movie is that the multitudes who screamed for His crucifixion knew  little about Jesus Christ.  Jesus says, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”  These words bring hope, comfort, and most importantly forgiveness to all.

The obvious question to ask myself is , “What excuse will I tell myself when I am asked why did I not tell a sister, a neighbor, or a coworker about Jesus?” Besides not wanting to stand out, jeopardize my position at work, or state my position for the umpteenth time, I fear that I have not listened to the Holy Spirit leading. And He is leading me to stand up and to say:

We are all sinners in need of a Savior.  Our Savior came as a baby born to a virgin; he began his ministry at age 30, teaching that the kingdom of God was at hand; he suffered beatings at the hands of Pontius Pilot and was crucified and buried.  On the third day, He rose again and appeared to many for many days before ascending into heaven.  He lives forever, making intercession for us with God, the Father, and fulfilling His promises to us.  To live forever with Him we must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, ask Him to be Lord of our life, and believe in Him.  If we do this, we will not be left behind as orphans.  We will have the Holy Spirit living inside, teaching us all we need to know to love God and love one another.

No excuses. No fear.  No sorrow.  Only dancing and singing “Alleluia!” with the angels for everyone who comes to the Father by the Son. Happy Resurrection Day!

 

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Deuteronomy 26, 27; Mark 15:1-26

And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. Mark 15:12-15; 25

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And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you. Deuteronomy 26:10-11

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And there you shall build an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones. You shall wield no iron tool on them; you shall build an altar to the Lord your God of uncut stones. And you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God, and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God. And you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly.” Deuteronomy 27:5-8

An altar. The Cross.

Was, and is, and always will be…

The greatest sacrifice…made by God…made for me.

Extraordinary silence against accusations spat in His face.

A broken body swathed in purple; a barbed circlet on His bloodied head.

The weight of my sin on His shoulders.

A heavy burden to carry.

The King brought low, brought to death. Perfection crucified.

Giving everything of Himself. Always willing. Always loving.

His death, His life, a gift of grace, a first fruit offering.

Redemption. Restoration. Relationship.

He gives all, and all He asks of me is all of myself.

A living sacrifice, prepared to worship, ready to rejoice.

Remembering His goodness. Recalling His faithfulness.

No longer bruised and battered. No longer a slave.

Suddenly, His reaffirmed treasure.

Suddenly, holy unto Him.

Walk into the land of milk and honey.

Enter into God’s promises. Enter into His peace.

Blessings – Julie (writing from 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.

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Genesis 27-28; Matthew 9:18-38

…a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples…When the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. (verses 18-19; 25)

…a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (verses 20-22)

…two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David”…and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened… (verses 27-30)

Matthew 9:18-30

I believe that the stories in the gospels are only tiny glimpses of all the miracles that actually took place during Jesus’ life. And yet, the testimonies that were written down for history stand out not necessarily because they were ‘bigger’ miracles than any other wonders He performed, but because these people were willing to do whatever it took to get what they needed, regardless of how other people might judge them.

A powerful man, a ruler who would have typically sent a servant to do his bidding, humbled himself before Jesus believing for his daughter’s life. An ‘unclean’ woman, one who bled for 12 years reached out, grabbed Jesus’ clothes trusting that a simple touch would heal her. Two blind men cried out, loud voices shouting relentlessly for mercy, contending for sight.

Need motivates a willing-to-do-anything attitude; it offers a dose of faith, an ounce of hope. It bolstered boldness and gave these individuals courage to approach the Throne of Grace set before them. God’s response was to choose these people, to say ‘YES’ to their needs. He blessed them, healed infirmities, and redeemed their lives.

But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 3Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing…” Genesis 27:35-36

Generations before, Jacob also acted out audaciously. Though his dealings with Esau are typically viewed as cunning and dishonest, presented opportunities enabled him to receive inheritance and blessing essential to the fulfillment of his destiny. And rather than chide him for his deceit, God’s response was to show himself to Jacob in a dream. God chose to re-establish the covenant He first made with Abraham. God promised Jacob the land and spoke increase over his offspring. God assured Jacob that through him (by Christ’s eternal blood sacrifice), all of the families of the earth would be blessed.

And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:12-15

I look at my own life and I can honestly say that my experience of relationship with Him is most transformed when I seek the person of Christ with desperation. Those times when I come boldly before Him, I receive the grace and mercy I need most in all circumstances.

When I take time to put my focus directly on Him, when I stop multi-tasking God and single-mindedly pursue His heart, He blesses me abundantly. When I shower Him with gratitude, praise, and worship, He gives me beauty for ashes and replaces my sadness with joy. When I do whatever it takes to have more of Him, He strengthens me in times of weakness, He heals my infirmities; He liberates me from bondage and offers me true freedom in Him.

Yesappa, Thank You for saying ‘Yes’ to me, for meeting me wherever I am, whether I come to you every day or I come to you in the midst of juggling responsibilities. I ask for an extra measure of boldness in approaching Your throne, as a daughter and as a co-heir. Help me carve out more time to seek Your face, to focus solely on You without distractions. Increase intimacy in our relationship and make all our time together quality time that touches Your heart and does miracles in mine. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from 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.

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2 Samuel 21; Galatians 1; Ezekiel 28; Psalm 77

This letter is from Paul, an apostle.” Galatians 1:1 NLT.

Paul, who was a hater toward and hunter of anyone who followed Christ.

13 You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. 14 I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors. Galatians 1:13-14 NLT.

Paul, who would encounter Jesus on a road to Damascus.

11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12 NLT.

Paul, whose life did a complete 180 turn, from hater to lover. From hunter to hunted. From Pharisee-know-it-all-judge-and-persecutor to slave and brother in Christ.

 

15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him 16 to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.

Before Paul was born, God had a plan. And he picked a man whose former self would resemble nothing of his new life in Christ. (I’m so glad.)

16b When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. 17 Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. Galatians 1:16b-17 NLT.

Paul spent three years in Arabia, learning from the Holy Spirit.

He spent the rest of his life proclaiming the Gospel.

Lord, I’m thankful for the 180 turn in my life, for your word in my hands so I can learn too, for a brother in Christ like Paul. I’m thankful to study your word and to learn from those who came before–to slow down enough in my day to discover treasures wrapped deep in truth. You are so good. I’m thankful all my lost years are not wasted, and that my story can speak of your grace and power and mercy.

Courtney (66books365)

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