Tag Archives: hope

Jeremiah 38, 39, 52; 1 Peter 2

A contrast of despair and hope.

King Zedekiah’s kingdom is surrounded and starved, and he is pursued and forced to witness the heartbreaking murder of his children and fellow nobles before his own eyes are gouged out, and he is led away–captive. (Jeremiah 39) I read through this passage and Jeremiah 52, and the despair and loss is thick. Names in a book, figures of history–once living, breathing men. We all have a story–about where we come from and where we’ve been, where we are and where we are going. About loss and love and despair and hope.

In Jeremiah, a city is dismantled and destroyed–the temple pillars Solomon had raised, gone. (I catch the briefest glimpse, of pomegranates, a detail recorded.)

These things had been made for the Lord’s Temple in the days of King Solomon. 21 Each of the pillars was 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference. They were hollow, with walls 3 inches thick. 22 The bronze capital on top of each pillar was 7 1⁄2 feet high and was decorated with a network of bronze pomegranates all the way around. 23 There were 96 pomegranates on the sides, and a total of 100 pomegranates on the network around the top. (Jeremiah 52:20b-23, NLT)

In 1 Peter 2, a new temple.

And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say,

“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,
    chosen for great honor,
and anyone who trusts in him
    will never be disgraced.”

Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him,

“The stone that the builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.”

And,

“He is the stone that makes people stumble,
    the rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
    now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
    now you have received God’s mercy.”

 

11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. (1 Peter 2:5-12, NLT)

Father God, I am so grateful for your word in my hands and heart, for your love and direction, for your mercy and provision. I read these words in 1 Peter 2 and I am filled with hope and joy, to be part of something you are creating, to be valued and loved, chosen. You chose me. I want my life to be a song of praise to you. Keeping my eyes on you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Zephaniah, Psalms 74; 2 Corinthians 8

“Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia.  They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor.  But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.  For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more.  And they did it of their own free will.  They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift of the believers in Jerusalem.  They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-3 NLT

I can learn a lot from the churches in Macedonia…

They had abundant joy.

They gave themselves to the Lord first.

They had a strong faith.

They were not focused on what they were lacking, but what they could give.

“I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.  Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving.  Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly.  And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. ” 2 Corinthians 8: 7-13 NLT

How many times have I felt lead to give and than I talk myself out of it? I make a mental list of all the reasons why I shouldn’t.  I give in to my fears and my eagerness fades. But, when I have followed through, my heart is fuller.  I am more grateful for all he has given me. He doesn’t hold back, so why should I?  I am reminded that my treasure truly is in Heaven.  I am reminded that it is all his.

“You, O God, are my king from ages past, bringing salvation to the earth.  You split the sea by your strength and smashed the heads of the sea monsters. You caused the springs and streams to gush forth, and you dried up rivers that never run dry.  Both day and night belong to you; you made the starlight and the sun.  You set the boundaries of the earth, and you made both summer and winter.” Psalms 74:12-17 NLT

Thank you Father for how you pour out your love on me.  Thank you for your faithfulness and provision.  Help me to live with open hands to others.  Give me wisdom and discernment where needed.  I pray that my eyes would be open to those around me who are in need of a touch from you.  That I would be willing to be inconvenienced when it would be easier to turn the other way. Amen.

“For the Lord your God is living among you.  He is a mighty savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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Isaiah 56-59; Psalm 70; 1 Corinthians 16

I’d never been in the presence of such a warrior. We were talking about life and hard issues, and I shared something that had hurt me deeply that I was still trying to resolve in my mind and heart. She offered to pray for me, and when she did, I felt small and humbled by the things she took to the throne on my behalf–boldly, powerfully. In fact, I almost felt afraid at her great, impassioned petition for vengeance.

Please, God, rescue me!
    Come quickly, Lord, and help me.
May those who try to kill me
    be humiliated and put to shame.
May those who take delight in my trouble
    be turned back in disgrace.
Let them be horrified by their shame,
    for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!”
But may all who search for you
    be filled with joy and gladness in you.
May those who love your salvation
    repeatedly shout, “God is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    please hurry to my aid, O God.
You are my helper and my savior;
    O Lord, do not delay. (Psalm 70, NLT)

 

God is so mighty. And her mighty prayer showed me who I’m dealing with. This was many years ago, and I don’t remember the exact words she said (mostly because I was drop-jawed stunned as she said them), but I will never forget that evening. Weeks later I got word of some things that immediately brought this warrior to mind as her prayer was answered. I was awestruck. I couldn’t get my head around it. But that incident became grounds for great trust in God, his might and sovereignty. (As well as the very real power of prayer!) I learned over the years to trust him with the outcome of things that were so much bigger than I was. And I still do.

I read an article recently that left a long impression on me about forgiveness, “Forgiveness means we don’t ignore. We don’t excuse. But we do release the right of vengeance to God without pretending vengeance isn’t right” (True Woman, Haley Mullins, 9/4/18). God is just. He is judge. I take the wounds and hurts and offer them to him, to free my heart–because it is the wellspring of my life.

The Lord looked and was displeased
    to find there was no justice.
16 He was amazed to see that no one intervened
    to help the oppressed.
So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm,
    and his justice sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his body armor
    and placed the helmet of salvation on his head.
He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance
    and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.
18 He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds.
    His fury will fall on his foes.
    He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.
19 In the west, people will respect the name of the Lord;
    in the east, they will glorify him.
For he will come like a raging flood tide
    driven by the breath of the Lord.

20 “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem
    to buy back those in Israel
who have turned from their sins,”
    says the Lord.

21 “And this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the Lord, have spoken! (Isaiah 59:15-21, NLT)

When I’m taking a walk, I notice the size of the trees, trees that seem so big when I stand beside them, but look so small compared to the backdrop of the heavens–and I am so much smaller, a young child is smaller still.

Oh, Lord, how is it you notice me? I am so grateful. That of everything under your watch, you see me and you care for my heart. You value truth and what is right, and it is worth fighting for. You give me hope. What a precious gift.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 49-52; Psalms 69; 1 Corinthians 14

“Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me.” Psalms 69:1&2 NLT

“But I keep praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation.” Psalms 69:13&14 NLT

“Answer my prayers, O Lord, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful. Don’t hide from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in deep trouble!” Psalms 69:16&17 NLT

Sometimes when I can’t see progress, I get stuck.  I get tired of waiting through the messy.  I can get so hung up on the moment, that I forget that my life is most lived in the process.  I look to earthly reassurance, instead of crying out to him, like David. “What if God wants to do it in a different way? In a process not in a moment.” Steven Furtick.  He will answer my prayers in his timing.  He loves me through the waiting.  That’s when he does the most work in my heart.

This is what the Lord says: “At just the right time, I will respond to you.  On the day of salvation I will help you.  I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them.  Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again.” Isaiah 49:8 NLT

He has given me hope.

He has given me favor.

He has restored my life.

His love is unfailing.

“Pay attention, you who are far away! The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.  He made my words of judgement as sharp as a sword.  He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand.  I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.  He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.”  I replied, “But my work seems useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.  Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”  Isaiah 49:1-4 NLT

I am reminded that God has given me a greater purpose than I can think or dream up.  I spend too much time asking him what I should do, instead of just doing it and leaving the results to him.  When confusion bombards my mind, I know its not from him.  He is the giver of a peace that surpasses my understanding.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33 NLT

Thank you Father for always meeting me where I am at.  For using your words and the words of others to draw me closer to you.  Help me to live with an eternal perspective.   Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38-40; Psalm 68; 1 Corinthians 11

I remember watching an actress being interviewed, and she told a story of how her dad said that when life felt like it was too much, to go stand on the beach and look up and around, and she would see how small she and all the issues of her life really are. I imagined this woman, who had had success and fortune and a measure of pull, feeling overwhelmed, and that she needed to know somewhere in her soul that she was small. That she was held.

26 Look up into the heavens.
    Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
    calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:26-31, NLT)

 

The issues in life sometimes feel consuming, pressing in from all sides, stealing peace, stealing rest, and I am reminded that the enemy prowls crouched to pounce–a thief to steal, kill and destroy. But my God is sovereign. When I feel defeated, he reminds me of his victory. When I feel weak and powerless, he will be my power and strength. When I trust in him, I will find new strength to soar, to run, to walk and not faint.

Lord, I feel your loving hand upon my face, turning my gaze to focus again and again on you. When I look too long at my problems, they get bigger. But when I remember who you are, things fall back into perspective. You created everything I see. You hold all time. You know my troubles. You know my heart. It is so good to know you and to be known by you. Grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 33-35; 1 Corinthians 6

He puts a song in my head, and the words crowd out the worry and hurt. I don’t always know all the lyrics, but when my heart starts to sing, my entire body follows–I walk taller; I look forward; my face softens; I smile.

I read first of Assyria and the betrayal and destruction. And later within the reading–hope.

And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
    It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
    It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways;
    fools will never walk there.
Lions will not lurk along its course,
    nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers.
    Only the redeemed will walk on it.
10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
    They will enter Jerusalem singing,
    crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
    and they will be filled with joy and gladness. (Isaiah 35:8-10, NLT)

The song catches my attention–after passages of betrayal, destruction, mourning, this song sings out, “Honor!”

In New Testament reading, Paul corrects his audience sternly:

If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues? But instead, one believer sues another—right in front of unbelievers!

Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers.

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. (1 Corinthians 6:4-9, NLT)

Honor God. Honor others. Honor unity of the body of Christ.

Paul speaks against sexual sin, to honor God with the body.

19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NLT)

I think long on honor.

Father God, would my thoughts show I belong to you? Would my actions declare I am yours? Stresses, conflict, loss, betrayal, they all (viciously) distract me along the journey, trying to consume my focus, but you bring me back to you with song and joy. Lord, help me to honor you with my whole being, my whole heart, my whole life.

Though the Lord is very great and lives in heaven,
    he will make Jerusalem his home of justice and righteousness.
In that day he will be your sure foundation,
    providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.
    The fear of the Lord will be your treasure. (Isaiah 33:5-6, NLT)

 

Courtney (66books365)

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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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