Tag Archives: grace

2 Kings 22; Hebrews 4; Joel 1; Psalms 140, 141

Grief. Repentance. Punishment. Oppression. Justice. Persecution. Calamity. Destruction.

15 The day of the Lord is near,
    the day when destruction comes from the Almighty.
    How terrible that day will be! Joel 1:15, NLT

Where enemies are plotting, evil, wicked, vipers.

O Lord, rescue me from evil people.
    Protect me from those who are violent,
those who plot evil in their hearts
    and stir up trouble all day long.
Their tongues sting like a snake;
    the venom of a viper drips from their lips. Psalm 140:1-3, NLT

And choices are made to obey or not.

He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right. 2 Kings 22:2, NLT.

It’s all there in the scriptures.

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:13, NLT

And in it too, refining fire.

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12, NLT.

Let the godly strike me!
    It will be a kindness!
If they correct me, it is soothing medicine.
    Don’t let me refuse it. Psalm 141:5, NLT

 

Rest.

So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts.”

Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall. Hebrews 4:6-11, NLT.

We just returned from a weekend wedding in Massachusetts. For a sweet, short time, I played with my kids, ventured down water slides, walked through the woods, celebrated life and love, feasted. When I returned home, all the things I have still to do were waiting. But something in me was changed, when I needed it most.

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT.

Lord, didn’t I meet you on the mountains? Every flaming autumn leaf, the carpet of pine needles, the way the wind rippled the waters and lifted my hair in playful dance. Didn’t you touch my heart in the aisle, as I sat by my husband and witnessed marriage vows, you spoke to me of your covenant love. You are my rest and my peace. You restore me. You comfort me. You encourage me. You soothe me. You are provider, protector. You are gracious and merciful. Thank you for respite and a reminder that I can access your peace any day, anywhere–not just in the Massachusetts wilderness, but here at home: by the computer, in the tasks, fixing meals, drinking coffee–I fix my focus. I am yours. You walk with me, and I am not alone.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 10; 2 Timothy 1; Hosea 2; Psalm 119:97-120

Trusting in God can be easier when there are fewer choices. The people of Israel abandon their Creator God who led them through the desert for a god who offers false promises of fertility and abundance. Before long, they blend in with the culture; name alone distinguishes them from their neighbors. Baal is chosen over Jehovah.

In a zeal, Jehu takes up the sword and wipes out Baal worship only to later turn away from the Lord to pursue other gods. The cycle is repeated over and over again. Israel has this way of wandering from God when given half a chance. And what does God say of his people?

“She didn’t not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished upon her silver and gold that they used for Baal.”  Hosea 2:8

Longing for his people, God is a patient, forgiving lover:

“Therefore, I will now allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. From there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as when she came out of the land of Egypt. On that day, says the Lord you will call me, ‘My husband,’ and no longer will you call me, ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baal from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more….And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.” Hosea 2:14-17…19,20.

This cycle of belief and disbelief is exhausting. At least the Israelites embraced their false gods openly and honestly. Me, my heart sneaks away under cover and sometimes, I don’t even realize how or where my heart has wandered. That’s irrelevant to God, He pursues. His Holy Spirit claims ownership of my heart. He is there to strengthen and fan into flame even the slightest flicker of faith. Read Paul’s words to Timothy:

“For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through he laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”  2 Timothy 1:6-7.

God’s will is not accomplished through my ability to get things done and done right. It’s by His grace, power and purpose that the work is completed. This is great news to this  Type A personality who quickly fatigues. I can rest in God’s sufficiency for “I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.” 2 Timothy 1:12.

Lord, you are my hiding place and shield. My hope is in the truth of your word, not in my efforts or abilities. I long to love you with my whole heart,  yet know that I get distracted. Holy Spirit, have your way in and through me and let me rest in your all sufficiency. Thank you that your love never lets me go. Amen.

Kathy

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2 Kings 4, Psalm 116, Daniel 8, 1 Timothy 1

The older I get the more I realize the incredible gift of eternal life and come to understand the sacrifice Christ made for me. As a young child growing up in the church I heard of Christ’s sacrifice for me so often that I took it for granted. I learned to be a “good” law abiding Christian and though I knew works didn’t “get” me in to heaven, I felt they would make the Lord love me more. This led to a lot of messed up thinking on my part. From seeking perfection in my life to be “good enough” to judging others who didn’t measure up to my standards that I chose to live by, my thinking didn’t allow for much grace and mercy.

But then you get older. Time goes by and you see things, you experience things and the Holy Spirit changes you little by little. Recently, our family experienced a shocking revelation of sin in one member’s life. It was completely uncharacteristic and completely out of the blue. But I was more shocked by the first thought that came to my mind, “We are all sinners. Sin is sin. Whether it’s big or little. So thank you, Jesus for your grace and mercy!”

Paul mentions this to his young men-tee, Timothy when he realized the depths to which Christ rescued him from.

15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 1 Timothy 1

 

When I am reminded of the depth of my sin, I am reminded that my “little” sins are no better or worse than the murderers, thieves, and the lawless and disobedient. The only difference is recognizing my need for a savior. Thank you, Jesus for reaching down and lifting me out of the pit of hell and bestowing on me eternal life.

I love the Lord, because he has heard
    my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
    therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
    the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
    I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
    our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
    for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 116:1-9

 

Thank you, Lord that we are not alone. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ who humbled himself and was obedient to you, sacrificing his life for mine. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen. 

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1 Kings 18; 1 Thessalonians 1; Ezekiel 48; Psalm 104

The people of Israel were getting desperate. Drought was ravishing their land and relief was not in sight, so they built an altar to Baal and sacrificed their limited resources. Elijah asked, “How long will you go limping about with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21

I hear God ask me the same question. Like most people, I have a longstanding family issue that won’t go away (warning: the holidays are coming). Everything that I have done in the past has been powerless to bring about change or seemed to make things worse. Venting to anyone who would listen to my tale of woe didn’t help, except to reinforce my sense of self righteousness and gather tiny stones of bitterness for my altar. Like the people of Israel, I have limped around this petty altar for too many years and wasted precious time and effort.

This time around, I hear God’s call to step out of my negative do loop and come to his altar of prayer. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s time to confess anger, a desire to hold onto hurt and an unwillingness to forgive. It’s time to stop complaining and walk into the freedom of trusting God to be enough, even if I don’t get the outcome I want.

“…because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5…6.

Lord, I long to live with the steady, unbreakable conviction that you are Lord in all situations. I want the kind of joy that comes only from trusting you. Holy Spirit, do your work in me. Holy Spirit, let your word take root and complete your will and work in my life. Jesus, you are the author and perfecter of my faith; it’s by your overflowing grace through that I ask this. Amen

Kathy

 

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1 Kings 15; Colossians 2; Ezekiel 45; Psalms 99-101

From a lineage, a choice.

He committed the same sins as his father before him, and he was not faithful to the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had been. But for David’s sake, the Lord his God allowed his descendants to continue ruling, shining like a lamp, and he gave Abijam a son to rule after him in Jerusalem. For David had done what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and had obeyed the Lord’s commands throughout his life, except in the affair concerning Uriah the Hittite. (1 Kings 15:3-5, NLT)

One does evil in the sight of the Lord, just like his father before him. Another does what pleases the Lord.

When Abijam died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. (1 Kings 15:8, NLT)

11 Asa did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done. (1 Kings 15:11, NLT)

And so it goes. A choice.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7, NLT)

I feel the stretching pull of growing down and building up. Faith that grows strong in truth, a life overflowing in thankfulness.

Lord, I give you praise because I can trust in you. You are good and your faithfulness continues to each generation–great grace. I don’t know what the days hold, but I know who holds them, and I give you thanks now for your sovereignty. In you are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge–help me, oh Lord, to grow down deeper into you and my life to be built on you–my rock and foundation.

Courtney (66books365)

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

Pride. A virtue or vice? It is used so frequently in our day and age. In the positive, “I’m so proud of my family….”, “Take pride in your work”, “Do your parents proud.” These all seem like wonderful things but when is it

Pride stands in the way of seeing our own sin. It makes us feel better about ourselves than we really are. Pride puffs up our spirits with a false sense of security in ourselves or the people and processions we surround ourselves with. It leaves us feeling alone, stressed, successful or like a failure. It’s all up to us.

Ezekiel prophesied the words of the Lord to the king of Tyre who had become so proud and was being warned of the consequences of his pride.

1The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God:

“Because your heart is proud,
    and you have said, ‘I am a god,
I sit in the seat of the gods,
    in the heart of the seas,’
yet you are but a man, and no god,
    though you make your heart like the heart of a god—
you are indeed wiser than Daniel;
    no secret is hidden from you;
by your wisdom and your understanding
    you have made wealth for yourself,
and have gathered gold and silver
    into your treasuries;
by your great wisdom in your trade
    you have increased your wealth,
    and your heart has become proud in your wealth— Ezekiel 28:1-5

I think of my own pride. How do I rely on myself? What do I look to to provide me with security? Is it the things I have accomplished, the money in the bank, or the good job that I have today? My pride tells me I am in control and all that I have is because I worked hard. My pride lies to me daily, wanting me to believe I have something to do with my own success (or failure).  Alternatively, when things are not going well, I am tempted to feel like a failure, like I’m not enough, like I missed out on something I should have done. Either way, it is pride. Self reliance. Self dependence. Self.

The truth, is that God gave me the ability to be successful. It is by the Lord’s mighty and outstretched hand of grace and mercy that I even have breath at this very moment. At any moment those things that make me proud of the life that I have built or the things I have accomplished could vanish. When I sit and meditate on God’s incredible grace to me; it is by grace, through faith that I not only believe but am saved, I am humbled.

I remember, like the Psalmist:

11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

16 When the waters saw you, O God,
    when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
    indeed, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
    the skies gave forth thunder;
    your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
    your lightnings lighted up the world;
    the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea,
    your path through the great waters;
    yet your footprints were unseen.[c]
20 You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron. Psalm 77: 11-20

 

 

Sweet Jesus. Thank you for your Word that is sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces my pride and reminds me of your great and mighty works and your even greater mercy and grace. I look to you, Jesus as my source of hope when I am tempted to place faith in myself. You alone rescue. Amen.

kateredding

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2 Samuel 13; 2 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 20; Psalms 66-67

A friend of mine said this past weekend something that stuck: “One of Satan’s tricks is to take what is abnormal and make it appear normal.” That’s sin! That’s the stunt that the he played on Eve, and then Eve on Adam: enter in the death spiral of sin.

Amnon takes what isn’t his at the expense of another. To sin, or trespass means that I cross into a place that wasn’t intended for me. Isn’t that the deadly game I try to play with God, when I sin? I end up where I don’t belong; without God’s grace calling me home, the path leads farther and farther from Him.

I am confronted with God’s question to the house of Israel, “Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your ancestors and go astray after their detestable things?” Ezekiel 20:32Am I going to turn away from God and seek those things which will never satisfy? Will I turn away from God’s view of normal to chase the abnormal and dysfunctional? Will I seek material comfort and temporary illusions of security at the expense of the one who made me to know and enjoy Him?

It’s from the Word of God that I learn what is real, true, “normal.” The Psalmist understands this. He has experienced pain and suffering but has known restoration. He has felt trapped and been without vision but learned that God is faithful:  “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs; you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.” Psalm 66:10-12.

Paul and his fellow believers have been there as well; “but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way; through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beating, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…”2 Corinthians 6:4-5.  How did they respond? “by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God.” 2 Corinthians 6:6Only in God’s world, his Kingdom is such a response normal, much less possible, but that is the Kingdom where my citizenship lies.

Holy Spirit, help me to keep sight of what is “normal,” and to be obedient. When I go through difficult times, by your power, work your purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness, and genuine love deep into my being. Let me speak only that which is sincere and true. Provide the faith needed to keep my eyes on you. It’s by your grace and mercy that I ask these things.  Amen.

Kathy

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