Tag Archives: grace

1 Kings 4; Proverbs 1-2; Psalm 43; Romans 9

It sounds like depression. It sounds like grief. It sounds like despair.

Declare me innocent, O God!
    Defend me against these ungodly people.
    Rescue me from these unjust liars.
For you are God, my only safe haven.
    Why have you tossed me aside?
Why must I wander around in grief,
    oppressed by my enemies? (Psalm 43:1-2, NLT)

It sounds like hope.

Send out your light and your truth;
    let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain,
    to the place where you live.
There I will go to the altar of God,
    to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp,
    O God, my God!

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God! (Psalm 43:3-5, NLT)

It reminds me that when times are dark and pressing in and on, when it feels like God has turned his back, that there is light and truth. There is joy. There is hope.

Circumstances and feelings don’t tell the full story. I turn to God’s unchanging word for truth and guidance. I am reminded of who he is and who I am.

30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said,

“I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble,
    a rock that makes them fall.
But anyone who trusts in him
    will never be disgraced.” (Romans 9:30-33, NLT)

Lord, I am so thankful for your words in my hands. You are timeless and true. Your word is living and active. I sit in this space today, glad for quiet and time to drink in truth. Thank you for wisdom. Thank you for mercy and grace.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20; Psalm 51, 32; Acts 27

Two renditions of the same story:

In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1, NLT)

In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, Joab led the Israelite army in successful attacks against the land of the Ammonites. In the process he laid siege to the city of Rabbah, attacking and destroying it. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. (1 Chronicles 20:1, NLT)

Second Samuel continues on to the story of David and Bathsheba. When he wasn’t where he should have been, doing what he should have been doing, the fertile ground for sin awaited. I’m not talking about Bathsheba, but David’s own choices. The story of one thing leading to another ends in multiple tragedies and repentance.

Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. (2 Samuel 11:2-4a, NLT, emphasis added)

When I think of David, I think of a man who loved God. I think of his many talents and skills. I think of his courage and faith. I think of his victories.

First Chronicles 20 continues this way:

Then David went to Rabbah and removed the crown from the king’s head, and it was placed on his own head. The crown was made of gold and set with gems, and he found that it weighed seventy-five pounds. David took a vast amount of plunder from the city. (1 Chronicles 20:2, NLT)

First Chronicles doesn’t read like a journey into David’s heart and struggle. It just tells the historical war facts. The pairing of these two books shows such a great contrast. As I move from first paragraph to second in this book, the blank space separating the two symbolically speaks of so much more.

Grace.

When I think of God, I think of grace. I think of His great power and creativity. I think of His attention to detail and wisdom. I think of His love for us–to give us all choice: to choose Him, to follow Him, and to return to Him when we’ve strayed. Choices sometimes carry painful consequences, but I am reminded there’s another story larger than my own and a God on the throne with love and grace enough for everyone.

God, what do you see when you look at me?

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there. (Psalm 51:1-6, NLT)

Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
    that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place;
    you protect me from trouble.
    You surround me with songs of victory.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” (Psalm 32:6-9, NLT)

That blank space between 1 Chronicles 20:1 and 20:2, I fill it with this sweet, divine relief:

Oh, what joy for those
    whose disobedience is forgiven,
    whose sin is put out of sight! (Psalm 32:1, NLT)

Father God, you are the safest place for my deepest thoughts. Hiding place. Protector. You give guidance and advice. How wonderful–what joy!–that I can turn to you honestly and completely and you receive me. Thank you for grace.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 8; 3 John 1; Habakkuk 3; Luke 22

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:31-34) NIV

And he did just that. When pushed by the people in the crowd, Peter feared for his life. As bold as he usually was, in this instance he was weak. He denied Jesus. Before it happened, Jesus knew about it. He prayed for Peter knowing full well the weight he would feel for denying his friend, his teacher, his Messiah. Peter had walked side by side with Jesus for three years. He was there for the transfiguration, he walked on water, he sat at his feet. He experienced first-hand the power of Jesus as he witnessed people’s lives being changed both physically and spiritually. I can well imagine Peter’s feelings afterwards—berating himself for failing when pushed to the brink, wondering how in the world he did that. It was no surprise to Jesus; he knew it would happen. He also knew Peter would be able to strengthen his brothers in their journey of faith. It was not the end of the story.

This is where grace enters Peters life. The love of Jesus is shown through the forgiveness of our sins. He showed Peter such love and compassion in light of what he did. Jesus did not hold it against him. (“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Ps. 103:12)

I lived for so long under condemnation for the choices I made in the past. There were people who hurt me, people I hurt, decisions I wish I could undo, and so much shame. The weight was unbearable and almost took me out. Sin has such a ripple affect and touches so many as it spreads. Then I met Jesus and through his love l understood a new way to live. God in His glory forgave me! It was almost as if he spoke those words to me: “Cindy, Cindy, I have prayed that your faith will not fail.” There are no words that can describe the moment I realized that weight of sin had been lifted. Grace is powerful!

Through these verses, I also came to understand God’s sovereign will. Satan has to ask God’s permission to “sift” us. It’s taken a lot of years of relationship with God to know that when he’s allowed trials into my life there is purpose in it. I don’t like it, and I struggle with accepting it, but I knew he has a greater good.

In Peter’s case, we later see him go forward and spread the gospel to the Gentiles. He was one of the early leaders. What a testimony he must have had to share of his time spent with Jesus. Peter could share his highs and his lows. His victories and his failings. And assure others, through it all, he was loved exactly the same—never more and never less.  

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. (3 John 1:11a) NIV

Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us what is good by the life of Jesus. May the wonder of Him, God in human form, never be taken for granted. You came humbly to this earth. You poured out your love on a hurting world. You gave us your only Son who willingly paid the penalty for our sins so we can be with you forever. A baby in a manger; a Savior on a cross. Forgiveness. Grace. A love given freely to those who believe. I shake my head in wonder of it all for understanding is beyond my ability.  I praise you for your awesome plan. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Kings 10, 11; 2 Timothy 1; Hosea 2; Psalm 119:97-120

28 In this way, Jehu destroyed every trace of Baal worship from Israel. 29 He did not, however, destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan, with which Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to sin.

30 Nonetheless the Lord said to Jehu, “You have done well in following my instructions to destroy the family of Ahab. Therefore, your descendants will be kings of Israel down to the fourth generation.” 31 But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit. (2 Kings 10:28-31, NLT)

A nightmarish scene. Merciless slaughter and destruction. He moved through the area with purpose. Taking in the scene with the eyes of a spectator, I’d say he gave it his all. But reading the words that follow, seeing the unseen, I learn that he didn’t. I am frozen by the subtlety of sin that takes refuge in a heart.

14 “But then I will win her back once again.
    I will lead her into the desert
    and speak tenderly to her there.
15 I will return her vineyards to her
    and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
    as she did long ago when she was young,
    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.

23 At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites
    and raise them for myself.
I will show love
    to those I called ‘Not loved.’
And to those I called ‘Not my people,’
    I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’
And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’” (Hosea 2:14-15, 23, NLT)

Jezreel–God plants–and the fruit transforms generations. I am touched by his tenderness, his faithfulness, his grace.

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:5-7, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, I sit with your words today in deep contemplation. I don’t want to sleepwalk through my life, thinking I’m doing my best and then realize how much I held back (or how much I held onto). Help me to fan into flames the gift you’ve given me, to live in the power, love and self-discipline of the spirit you’ve given me.

105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
    and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 3; 2 Thessalonians 3; Daniel 7; Psalm 114-115

My mom wanted a do-over. She put her hope in a next life–she wanted to believe in reincarnation. If she had known Jesus, she would have been given new life, a new heart–she could have known freedom. My dad lived eighty years, and when he died, his wake made clear what he truly valued. When I read the verses in 2 Kings 3, some details almost get lost in all the words, but I slow here:

Ahab’s son Joram began to rule over Israel in the eighteenth year of King Jehoshaphat’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria twelve years. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as his father and mother. He at least tore down the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had set up. Nevertheless, he continued in the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had committed and led the people of Israel to commit. (2 Kings 3:1-3, NLT)

When I stood at the open grave the day my dad was buried, I was acutely aware of my new rank in a lineage, that space we all find ourselves when an older generation passes away and we rise to their spot. I think long on the influence I have on a next generation and what I leave behind. Lord, only you can break chains of generational sin. You are the way, the truth, and the life.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-7, NLT, emphasis added, and the Greek for believers is noted from every brother)

When I first started goal setting, I had a friend in another state that was as driven and motivated as I was, and we encouraged one another. Sometimes, the mentors and models I needed weren’t local or available (or even people that I personally knew). When I read these words in 2 Thessalonians from Paul, you know you ought to imitate us, I know God’s Word will guide and instruct me, whether or not I have a mentor or model nearby.

11 All you who fear the Lord, trust the Lord!
    He is your helper and your shield.

12 The Lord remembers us and will bless us.
    He will bless the people of Israel
    and bless the priests, the descendants of Aaron.
13 He will bless those who fear the Lord,
    both great and lowly.

14 May the Lord richly bless
    both you and your children.
15 May you be blessed by the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
16 The heavens belong to the Lord,
    but he has given the earth to all humanity.
17 The dead cannot sing praises to the Lord,
    for they have gone into the silence of the grave.
18 But we can praise the Lord
    both now and forever!

Praise the Lord! (Psalm 115:11-18, NLT)

Dear Lord, the older I get, your grace towards me grows more and more precious. The years humble and soften me. Time shows me what really matters. Your Word does too.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
    but to your name goes all the glory
    for your unfailing love and faithfulness. (Psalm 115:1, NLT)

Courtney (66book365)

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