Tag Archives: grace

2 Corinthians 13; Psalm 101

I’ve asked myself a lot of questions this year: What am I afraid of? Why do some circumstances elicit such a strong response from me? Who are the people influencing me, and what is their influence? What would success look like in this area of my life? What’s holding me back? Am I living with a kingdom focus?

A year ago, I started running, and when I say running, I mean I tried to run up to the top of my driveway and back. It took me three attempts to run to the top without stopping. I was thirty-five pounds overweight and hadn’t exercised in over ten years. I committed the first month of “running” to just running one round-trip lap of my driveway. The next month, I added another lap. The month after that, a third. A year later, laps turned to miles. I could have stayed where I was that first month, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Paul once referenced giving milk to new believers because they weren’t ready for meat. The Bible talks of God’s grace in preparing his people for difficulties they wouldn’t be ready to handle on a first day. And here, Paul challenges and encourages:

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

We pray to God that you will not do what is wrong by refusing our correction. I hope we won’t need to demonstrate our authority when we arrive. Do the right thing before we come—even if that makes it look like we have failed to demonstrate our authority. For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the truth. We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature.

11 Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:5, 7-9, 11, NLT).

I think on kingdom and character. David’s psalm shows me he thinks of it too.

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord.
    I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
    when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
    in my own home.
I will refuse to look at
    anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
    I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas
    and stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
    I will not endure conceit and pride.

I will search for faithful people
    to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach
    will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
    and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
    and free the city of the Lord from their grip (Psalm 101, NLT).

In recent years, my family has lost many relatives and friends to death. In reflection, their lives spoke in death of what mattered to them in life–and one day, mine will too. Who do I want to mature to be when I’m eighty? The answer tells me what I need to start doing now. Those choices speak for me when I’m gone.

Lord, David and Paul are like dear brothers to me. Thank you for giving me family in the pages of Your Word when I lost people from my life. Thank you for Your Spirit in me, guiding and correcting and challenging me. I’m even thankful for the heckler in my head, who tries to defeat me every day. Only in you, Lord, can an enemy’s taunt turn into fuel for victory.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20; 2 Corinthians 3; Psalm 20

2 Samuel 11:1 (NIV)

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

Ah, David. How far you fell and how fast you slipped.

How easily I stand in contempt of you – and yet, are we not more alike than I’d want to admit?

You made one small decision, and that one small decision changed the course of your life and many other lives. You took that one step, and that one step led to another, which led to another, which led to yet another. And before you knew it, you’d reached unspeakable places – places of adultery, betrayal, and murder.

And while I have not reached those unspeakable places, I’ve often found myself unexpectedly in places I’d never set out to reach – places like bitterness, anger, resentment, and discouragement. Where did it start? How did it happen?

One small step.

Your first small step was staying home instead of leading your army to war. I’m sure you felt justified. You wanted a break; you deserved the rest. You trusted your leaders. So you stayed behind.

My first step is often the same. I need a break. I deserve a reward. I have to rest. And so I withdraw.

By withdrawing, you found yourself in a place you weren’t supposed to be, you saw things you weren’t supposed to see, and you acted on the desires and impulses of the moment.

And when I withdraw, I find myself alone, vulnerable to temptation, and acting on the desires and impulses of the moment.

Because one indulgence makes the next easier. Until you’re out of control. Until I’m out of control.

But God was faithful to you, even after your shocking failure. In His mercy, he sent you Nathan. Nathan, who so eloquently pierced your heart with the truth. Nathan, who warned you of the dire consequences of your actions. Nathan, who came back when you repented and showed you the love of God.

And God is faithful to me, even when I fail Him. Over, and over again. In His mercy, He sends me people. He sends me His word. He sends me the truth to pierce my heart. And He opens my eyes to the course my feet have chosen and the consequences that await me.

And like you, I cry out for repentance. And like you, the Lord loves me. He restores me. He refreshes me. He affirms His love for me. And He helps me to move past my mistakes and find my identity in Him instead of my failures.

 

Oh, Lord. I could never thank you enough for caring enough about me to chase me when I wander. Father, open my eyes to the weight of my choices and help me to recognize that there are no harmless steps when it comes to my relationship with you. I can either chose to move closer to you or father away; and Lord, I want to be closer! Help me to seek you more than me, and help me to desire your rewards more than my personal comfort. Thank you for your mercy and love, even when I fail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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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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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Zechariah 9-11; 1 John 5

Periodically I hear people criticize Christianity because they say it’s just a bunch of rules you have to follow. And the Apostle John sort of agrees with them in this passage. And yet in the middle of these verses you find an astounding statement. See if you can find it.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—sour faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5 [ESV])

Did you find it? I think the second sentence in verse three is astounding, “And his commandments are not burdensome.” I am reminded of some of the world class athletes we know. Michael Jordan never complained about the rules in basketball. He never complained because the basket rim was at 10 feet. He never complained about the 3 second rule or the length of the court. He was world class while playing within those constraints and excelled.

The rules and commands we find in the Bible are for our good. They protect us and give us freedom. They are not there to control but to bring freedom to our lives. They are not oppressive but freeing.

How bout you? What command are you having trouble with? Have you thought about the fact that obeying that command will bring you freedom. Try it and see if it works.

Oh and by the way. By keeping these commands in no way gets us into heaven. The Apostle John addresses that later in the chapter and takes all the guess work out about the heaven thing. Read below:

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13 [ESV])

So he gives us that answer right there in the statement. We enter into an eternal relationship with God by putting our trust in Him alone for our salvation. Simple believe in what He has done for us on the cross.

So where are you in all this today? Are you believing in Jesus alone for your salvation? Do you understand that it isn’t a bunch of rule keeping that gets us there? But on the other hand do you realize how freeing it is to live by the rules and commands God has given us? Think on these things today.

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Filed under 1 John, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized, Zechariah

Isaiah 26-29; Psalms 65; 1 Corinthians 4

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all those whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is an eternal Rock.” Isaiah 26:3&4 NLT

I am praying this verse for my 10 year old son who is having dental surgery this morning.  He has been learning to conquer his fears and do things afraid.  What an example it has been for me. When anxiety comes, God wants to show me that he is bigger.  He tells me to take the focus off of me and put it on him.  To remember all that he has done.  To quiet my heart before him.

“God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here.  This is a place of quiet rest.”  But they would not listen.  Isaiah 28:12a NLT

It can be hard to be quiet.  I wrestle with unexpected thoughts bombarding my mind.  I don’t always want to face what I am feeling.  It is easier to pretend it’s not there.  But, I am learning to cry out to him in the midst of my struggles… knowing that he will meet me.

“Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.  In the night I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek you.”  Isaiah 26:8&9 NLT

It takes obedience to turn my thoughts towards him.  The truth is that my human nature wants to do things on my own.  To act like I am in control.  When I finally relinquish and give that up to God, he fills me with an unexplainable peace.   I recall his past faithfulness.  I am filled with a joy that only he can provide.  I wonder why I wait so long.  And instead endure days of worrying or trouble getting to sleep.  I am so much better rested when I read his word at night.  And wake up to hear his voice in the morning.

“You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. You formed the mountains by your power and armed yourself with mighty strength. You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations. Those who love at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy.” Psalms 65:1-8 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your patience with me.  That you care about the smallest details of my life.  I lift my eyes to you.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I want to live by your power.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit who guides me. Amen.

“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 4:20 NLT

amy(amyctanner)

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Isaiah 1-3; Psalms 9; Matthew 22

I“Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. What good are they?” Isaiah 2:22 NLT

Who am I trusting?

“The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.” Psalms 9:9&10 NLT

Am I only loving when it is convenient and easy? Because sometimes it’s hard.  If I am trusting in God’s perfect love for me, than I am free to reach out to others without expecting anything in return.  The simple tune of “Jesus Loves Me” fills my mind.  “For the Bible tells me so…” I am convicted to fill my mind with Scripture. Because I know there is an enemy working against me. But, Jesus shows me how to love. And he already has the victory.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “’You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demand of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NLT

I  let these sentences by Henri Noreen sink in…

“The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show the same results? But: Are you in love with Jesus? Perhaps another way of putting the question would be: Do you know the incarnate God? In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, cares, reaches out and wants to heal.  In that heart there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred.  It is a heart that wants only to give love and receive love in response.” ( In the Name of Jesus)

“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.  I will be filled with joy because of you.  I will sing praises to your name.” Psalms 9:1-2 NLT

Dear Father, help me to love others like you do.  And to remember how much I have been forgiven, so I can forgive.  Give me a heart like yours. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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Proverbs 6-7; Psalms 7; Romans 11

“Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And is by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” Romans 11:5&6 NIV

After reading Romans 11, this question from a devotional comes to mind …“Do I scoop out grace with a shovel or a spoon?”  If I am honest, it’s a spoon more often than not.  But when I look into my own heart, I know how ugly it can be.

“O Lord my God, in You I put my trust; Save me from all those who persecute me; And deliver me, Lest they tear me like a lion, Rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver.” Psalms 7:1&2 NIV

I’ve learned that forgiveness takes trust…

Trust that He has a plan greater than my hurt.

Trust that He will never fail of abandon me.

Trust that He loves me and has my best interest in mind.

Trust that He will bring justice.

I like how Lysa TerKeurst describes forgiveness.  “A complicated grace that uncomplicates my anger and helps me see beautiful again.”

“My defense is of God, Who saves the upright in heart.” Psalms 7:10 NIV

Father, thank you for your forgiveness. Help me to freely give it to others.  So that my heart does not become hardened and bitter.  To You be the glory.  Amen.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:33-36 NIV

Amy(amyctanner)

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