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Proverbs 8-10; Psalm 144; Romans 12

I was reminded this week of the importance of caring enough for my wife that I need to be listening to her – really listen.  There is so much more peace in our home and I am such a hero when I do, that I cannot understand why I am not an expert on such matters by now.

Listen carefully
to my instructions,
    and you will be wise. – Proverbs 8:33   CEV

The same can be said of my relationship with God.  Listening means spending time with God.  I believe I have shared this before, but I believe God’s love language is – time.  It is when I stop spending time with Him that other voices have an opportunity of creeping in and messing with my mind.  Voices that even go so far as challenging the authenticity of my relationship with God.

Why do we humans mean anything
to you, our Lord?
    Why do you care about us? – Psalm 144:3  CEV

Ann-Marie and I went to visit a new couple from our church this week.  We wanted to call them and drop in and thought it might be too soon for that.  What a joy to be invited two hours later by them!  We talked all night about our relationship with God and how He has woven our faith from experiences gone by. Sometimes caring is exactly that – spending time with others, hearing their voice, celebrating new friendships.

Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home. – Romans 12:13  CEV

Father, I know in my head that You care for me, from time to time I wonder why You or any one else would matter to care.  As the evil one may want to take Your care away from me, allow me to practice to care for others, to listen well, to spend time with You so that I might be equipped, ready to accept the invitation from You or someone else to care for them in their moment of need.  There are not enough praise words in our language to speak to Your love for me.  I know how much You care – enough for a cross, a death, a burial and the joy of my heart – a resurrection.  Thank you Lord. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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2 Kings 21; Hebrews 3; Hosea 14; Psalm 139

It finally happened – my daughter is getting married. Could not be more excited – today they are looking at wedding dresses and I get to stay home and hold the fort.  Not sure what the rest of the world’s dads go through in these moments but I am thrilled for one thing – they have both come together to declare their future home to be centred by their relationship with God.

 He built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my name.” – 2 Kings 21:4   NRSV

I remember how my wife and I, we started our journey at 21 and 22, could only survive our first five years because of the confidence and pride we had in Jesus.

 Christ, however, was faithful over God’s[f] house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm[g] the confidence and the pride that belong to hope. – Hebrews 3:6   NRSV

We tithed when it seemed no one else was, we served and I think this was where we learned what boundaries looked like and we loved.  But all of that came from within, from the Holy Spirit.

O Ephraim, what have I[e] to do with idols?
    It is I who answer and look after you.[f]
I am like an evergreen cypress;
    your faithfulness[g] comes from me. – Hosea 14:8   NRSV

We found ourselves more willing to be vulnerable than most because we knew we were in the palm of God’s hand.  In that secure place, He made Himself known to us.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me. – Psalm 139:1   NRSV

Not sure if you are familiar with, My Heart, Christ’s Home The story impacted me as I took the Navigator 2:7 course.  I still have a few rooms left to give to Jesus and I am working on one right now.  It is my prayer for my daughter and her fiance and for you and I, that our home is Christ’s home first and then the rest will follow.

Lord, my heart is your home. Many times I forget, even during the day.  I know I remember each morning that I wake, but let me remember all day so that others looking and watching how I live can see that you are a member of my family and my home.  I love you so much for loving me.  May my gift of love back to you be the time we spend each day together.  Amen

evanlaar

 

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Jeremiah 37, 21, 34; Psalm 79; James 5

The space between spiritual blessing and divine conviction: what am I doing when there? Working five days per week yields structure, routine, and purpose for me. Yet, come Friday, I’m like a child brought to the playground, letting loose of his father’s hand, running off to play. Well, almost. In reality, on Friday afternoon I eat a meal that I didn’t make, take up residence on the couch, and basically waste time dozing off and on while a mesmerizing box pours nonsense into my depleted, vulnerable brain. I started this habit several years ago when I lived alone and was suffering from loneliness and sadness.  It was my way of forcing the noise in my head to die down and the tension in my limbs to relax. Somewhere in this space, I hoped to find peace. Not unlike the drugs of addiction, really. A chemical solution to a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual problem, drugs anesthetize the hurt and pain or ignite and explode the numbing depression.

This space is, of course, a false interlude before the crashing realities return. Take for instance, the promise of peace when King Zedekiah commanded people to free their Hebrew male and female slaves, brothers to their Hebrew masters. God commanded that Hebrew slaves were to be freed after six years of servanthood, and for a brief time the masters let them go. Yet, it wasn’t long before the people were rounded up and taken back as slaves.

What went on between that time? Where did these Jewish slaves go? What were they doing? Did they lie on the beach each day, just thankful for a day without stress? Did they spend their days visiting family and eating home-cooked meals, or did they start projects around the house?

You may think my wandering thoughts are mundane and of little consequence, but let me ask you, “Do you look for that personal space where you can just do nothing if you want?” Why?

Why do we feel the need to get away? Why do we become weary? What disturbances in our world destroy peace in our hearts and why? James 5 has an interesting take on that space between suffering and salvation. Verse 7 – 8 says, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

This Scripture explains why on the morning after Friday’s down-time that I feel sick at my stomach (too much spicy food?), condemned in my spirit (seeking peace from a box on a stand?), confused in my mind (professing one thing, but doing the opposite?), and depressed and/or anxious in my emotions (wasting time, wasting energy?). I did not wait with the expectation that God may come right then. I did not establish my heart by seeking God’s instruction.

Well, one more Friday has vanished along with the regrets of a life that would have been better spent eating the Word which is sweeter than honey, looking for all that is lovely and uplifting, and waiting on God’s instruction for the night (might be sleep, could be holy visions…).

So I pray Psalm 79:

Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us! Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us… Help us, O God of our salvation…For Your name’s sake! So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, Will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations.

I ask, Lord Jesus, that I learn to wait with hopeful expectation of Your very presence, and to participate in the sweet joy of living in peace with You now, and definitely next Friday!

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Daniel 7-9; Psalm 91; John 19

You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right-he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you-under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm.” Psalm 91:1-3 MSG

I tend to think of a refuge being a place, like a soft blanket on a rainy day. The shelter of my home. I feel exposed when I am vulnerable. But, God goes before me even on the days where I feel the weakest. Or when I face a tough situation that I would rather avoid and be fearful about. A writer from a blog called  Loop, put into words what God is teaching me about refuge.  “When you know you are home, and you belong, there is no other home. When you know you are loved, and you know who you call family, and you know your name is Daughter, Beloved, Chosen One, you can rest, and you can live, and you can be free…Maybe there isn’t a better place than where I am.”

Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door.” Psalm 91:12 MSG

My family and I were fascinated by the Eagle Cam at Codorus State Park near our house. There was a live feed of the eagle’s nest, before and after they had their babies. We would stand around the computer screen and watch the babies wobble around the nest and hide under their mother’s wings. Their stoic father would puff out his chest to protect them, until they were ready to fly. Is this how God cares for me? He takes me under His wings. But, He is always there with me, even when He sometimes has to push me out of my comfort zone. He tells me to take refuge, but not hide. That I can be seen and take courage, knowing that He is still there.

Dear Father, I am thankful that You are always with me. That my home is where You are. I pray that I would trust You more and follow where You lead. Amen.

Amy(amycatnner)

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1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 3; 1 Timothy 1

He speaks as a father to a son.

Fathers, legacy, teaching, leadership, love–these things mean a lot to me.

1 Kings 6, 2 Chronicles 3 both speak of building a temple. I smiled at the details, because it reminds me of the thought and care that one might put into building a home. And home is a rich word. Old Testament building a home with cedars and gold, but in the New Testament, building up a home with guidance and encouragement. A home is more than ceilings and walls. A home is a first stop where hearts are shaped.

Paul speaks to Timothy as a father to a son.

Old Testament describes a house for the Lord, the attention to detail, the honor bestowed in beauty–a home built by a heart for God.

New Testament speaks of building a heart for God, words passed in love from a father to a son, to equip.

18 Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. 19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. 1 Timothy 1:18-19, NLT.

Paul’s instructions are for all believers.

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. 1 Timothy 1:5-6, NLT.

God, help my heart to be open to your instruction. Sometimes shipwrecking storms pull me apart and my conscience battles doing right. Sometimes I’m not even clear about what right is. Help me to guard my heart, so that it would be pure, my conscience clear and my faith genuine.

Courtney (66book365)

 

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Hosea 12-14; Revelation 3

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.                  Revelation 3:11-12.

It’s a very thin space between life and death, the finite and the infinite. Although Scriptures were written thousands of years ago, when today is placed adjacent to eternity, they might as well have been written yesterday. Anyone who experiences the loss of a loved one knows the thin, yet severe space that separates this life from the next. We press our ears against that wall and long to hear the heartbeat of our creator God and have his presence calm our aching hearts. We long for the day when all that is broken will be restored. Minutes become hours become days become years. Heartfelt longings persist and continue to remind us that this world is not our home.

Last weekend, I got a sense of that in a way I had not expected. I returned to my former home of twenty-five plus years. I had no idea that a place could have such a hold on me. As I drove along familiar country roads, my body remembered every curve, dip and rise of the hills. Years of driving these roads had worked an anticipation of the next view deep within: distant mountains, fields of frozen cornstalks, herds of dairy cows, creeks and woods. A bittersweet ache took hold of my heart. I was home and yet I was not.

Jesus understands our weary hunger for restoration, for home. He asks that we seize hold of what he has promised and not let go. When the pain is great, he reminds us that he is not far away. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He came to rescue the broken and exiled and bring us to the place of belonging, the city of God. This new Jerusalem is as real and firmer than the world we know today. Our yearning for home and knowing its reality can give us strength for today. By his loving grace, may God make us his people of hope.

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2 Chronicles 13; Revelation 3; Haggai 1; John 2

Victory for those who trusted the Lord.

13 Meanwhile, Jeroboam had secretly sent part of his army around behind the men of Judah to ambush them. 14 When Judah realized that they were being attacked from the front and the rear, they cried out to the Lord for help. Then the priests blew the trumpets, 15 and the men of Judah began to shout. At the sound of their battle cry, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel and routed them before Abijah and the army of Judah.

16 The Israelite army fled from Judah, and God handed them over to Judah in defeat. 17 Abijah and his army inflicted heavy losses on them; 500,000 of Israel’s select troops were killed that day. 18 So Judah defeated Israel on that occasion because they trusted in the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 2 Chronicles 13:13-18 NLT.

Be alive. Persevere. Names written can’t be erased. Hear this.

20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Revelation 3:20-21 NLT.

Fine houses. Ruin. Rebuild.

Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. Haggai 1:3-8 NLT.

His passion for God’s house.

17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”

 

18 But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”

 

19 “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

 

20 “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” 21 But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. John 2:17-22 NLT.

Home is a multidimensional word for me. We moved from my childhood home when I was 13, and ever since, I have been searching for a place of belonging. Maybe because this house reminds me of the type of community I grew up around (older home, mature trees), or maybe because God (undeniably) brought us here–this place feels like home. God’s name is written above my doors, and His scripture on heart and hearth. Lord, be welcomed in this place.

These verses move me–a protected land, rebuilding a place for God, a heavenly home … belonging. For me, home means things like welcome, included, safe and loved–I feel this with the Lord, my friend. The years of wandering feel over, and a joy replaces void–God lives in me, loves me, and I am never alone. I am his, and I am thankful to my very core.

Courtney (66books365)

13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave the people this message from the Lord: “I am with you, says the Lord!” Haggai 1:13 NLT.

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