Tag Archives: hope

Esther 7-10; Revelation 3

“On that same day King Xerxes gave the property of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther.  Then Mordecai was brought before the king, for Esther had told the king how they were related.  The king took off his signet ring-which he had taken back from Haman-and gave it to Mordecai.  And Esther appointed Mordecai to be in charge of Haman’s property.  Then Esther went again before the king, falling down at his feet and begging him with tears to stop the evil plot devised by Haman the Agagite against the Jews.  Again the king held out the gold scepter to Esther.  So she rose and stood before him.  Esther said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor with him, and if he thinks it is right, and if I am pleasing to him, let there be a decree that reverses the orders of Haman son of Agagite, who ordered that Jews throughout all the king’s provinces should be destroyed.  For how can I endure to see my people and my family slaughtered and destroyed?”  Esther 8:1-6 NLT

Esther had great faith.  She didn’t let fear control her.  She believed in God’s protection.

“Then Mordecai left the king’s presence, wearing the royal robe of blue and white, the great crown of gold, and an outer cloak of fine linen and purple.  And the people of Susa celebrated the new decree.  The joys were filled with joy and gladness and were honored everywhere.”…“And King Ahasuerus imposed tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea.  Now all the acts of his power and his might, and the account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.” Esther 8:15&16; 10:1-3 NLT

Even though Mordecai was convicted to die, he became the second highest ranking official in the nation.

“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.  I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.  All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of God, and they will never have to leave it.  And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God-the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God.  And I will also write on them my new name.  ”  Revelation 3: 10-12 NLT

When I hear about bad things happening in the world today, my first reaction is not always that God is in control.  It is often times, fear.  I question God, instead of trust him.  I try to figure things out on my own.  But, when I remember that my citizenship is in Heaven, I rest in God’s sovereignty.  And can view my own problems in the light of eternity.

Dear Father, Help me to trust you, even when I don’t understand.  Thank you that you can turn the darkest situations around for good.  I want to have a faith like Esther and Mordecai.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0wpP5o7xpI

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Ezekiel 46-48; John 16

I have been to Ukraine 30 times in the last 27 years. It is always good to catch-up with my friends and do ministry together. They are a hearty lot those Ukrainian Christ-followers. The love the Lord and speak longingly for His return.

The first question I ask them when we greet each other is, “How are you doing?” Or, “How have you been?” They have never, and I mean never, said “good” and they have never, and I mean never, said “bad”. What the have done is quote this verse to me every time.

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John16:33 [ESV])

They have had it hard there. The country has been through a lot. A friend of mine was eight years old when a knock came on the door and the KGB came and took his parents (his father being a pastor) and they never saw them again. Our brothers and sisters in Ukraine know how hard life can be, but they also know the only place that is safe and has a future for them is with their Savior. What a blessing they are to me.

Where are you today? Are you going through heartache and sorrow? Is every aspect of your life going well for you? No matter where you are this moment, be like our Ukrainian friends and take heart, because no matter what Jesus has overcome this world. Some day he will set all things straight. What a day that will be.

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Ezekiel 34-36; Psalms 86; John 12

“Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus-the man he had raised from the dead.  A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor.  Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him.  Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair.  The house was filled with the fragrance.  But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages.  It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.”  Not that he cared for the poor-he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.  Jesus replied, “Leave her alone.  She did this in preparation for my burial.  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”  John 12:1-7 NLT

Did Mary feel misunderstood?  Or was she so focused on Jesus that she didn’t worry about what anyone else thought?  She didn’t try to explain herself.  She knew that Jesus was her defender.  She was preparing for Jesus’s burial.  She knew that he wouldn’t be with them soon.  She was very purposeful about what she did.  How many times have I let the opinions of others get in the way of what He has called me to do?

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.  Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.  And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.  I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.  “And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago.  You will be my people, and I will be your God.”  Ezekiel 36:25-28 NLT

God gave the Israelites a new covenant that Jesus would ultimately fulfill.

Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory.  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone.  But its death will produce many new kernels-a plentiful harvest of new lives.  Those who love their life in this world will lose it.  Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.  Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am.  And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.  “Now my soul is deeply troubled.  Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.” John 12: 23-27 NLT

Is my heart receptive toward him or hardened? Am I living in my old ways or new?

“Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly.  Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you.  O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.  Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry.  I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.” Psalms 86:1-7 NLT 

Thank you Father for restoring what was lost.  For dying on the cross for my sins.  For putting your spirit inside me.  I pray that I would live by that power every day. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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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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