Tag Archives: hope

Isaiah 49-52; Philippians 4, Psalms 92

“And now the Lord speaks-the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him.  The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength.  He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me.  I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:5&6 NLT

God has been teaching me about restoration. He is showing me that I want things done quickly, but it takes time (usually more than I think). It’s a process. It’s messy. It doesn’t always go as planned.  God says, he “will do more than restore.” Restoration is not just about me. It is for others to see God’s glory. It takes the pressure off to feel like I have to do it on my own. I have to trust that he will use it for good.  But, do I?

“The Sovereign Lord has given me words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary.  Morning by morning he awakens me and opens my understanding to his will.”  Isaiah 50:4 NLT

It’s a daily pressing into him.  Knowing that he is the only one who can remove strongholds.

“Rise from the dust, O Jerusalem.  Sit in a place of honor. Remove the chains of slavery from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” Isaiah 52:2 NLT

It’s when a new rug in my daughter’s room starts to look more like a prayer rug. It becomes holy ground.  A place to fight the battle.  To feel the presence of God. To feel his peace.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6&7 NLT

I rest in this promise…

“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.” Isaiah 49:8

Dear Father, Help me to remember that you hear and answer my prayers, even when it is hardest to pray. Thank you for showing me your love. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning. And that you are making all things new. I am praising you before the breakthrough. You already have the victory. Amen.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High.  It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening…You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!” Psalms 92 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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Jonah 1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4

“But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord.  He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish.  But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart.” Jonah 1:3&4 NLT

Even though I find it a little funny that Jonah tried to get away from the Lord.  I think about times in my own life when I have done the same.  I am thankful for a Father who presses in and doesn’t leave me in my wondering.  He gently brings me back to him.  He hears my cries for help. And answers me.

“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.  He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me.  I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me!  You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea.  The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild stormy waves.  Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence.  Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me.  Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.  I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.  I was imprisoned by the earth, whose gates lock shot forever.  But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord.  And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple…For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” Jonah 2:1-9 NLT

I can relate to Jonah more than I’d like to admit.  He not only let fear get the best of him and he fled.  But, he was letting his feelings of anger and bitterness cause him to disobey.  He had to give up his control of the situation. And let God handle it.  What situations am I trying to control?

“The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” Then Jonah went to the east of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen in the city.”  Jonah 4:4 NLT

God let Jonah wrestle through his feelings.  He was patient and merciful. He asked him a question, instead of trying to tell him how to feel.

Thank you Father for your patience towards me.  For working through the process even when it is hard.  For understanding my pain, but not wanting me to stay there.  Give me a love for others that only comes from you. Amen.

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.  Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11&12 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

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Joel 1-3; 1 Thess. 3

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”

1 Thessalonians 3:12, NIV

In our reading today there is a huge contrast. In Joel we read about the hardship that the Lord’s people were experiencing. Joel called Judah to repent and cry out to God for salvation. The Lord responded with compassion and saved them and their land and cattle. Then the Lord called them to war.

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul was so encouraged to hear about the faith of the Thessalonians and their consistent belief in Jesus. He encouraged them to continue and to increase their love for each other and everyone else. Paul asked the Lord to increase their love.

I have to be honest and say I have always struggled with the contrast between The Old Testament and The New Testament. I have taken classes and understand the cultural conditions that existed during each time. I have taken many classes and read many books about theology. However, I still cannot understand the contrast between the God that calls for war and the God that calls for peace and love.

So what do we do? I have learned from a mentor that I don’t force an answer where there is not a clear one. I wait. I wait for wise council, I wait for the Holy Spirit’s leading and and I wait for confirmation. Currently, in my life, I have been led by the Spirit to love and not turn the shovel in my garage into a sword. I don’t give answers I don’t have. I will answer, “I don’t know.”

So friends, as we wait for the Lord’s return… as week seek to follow the Lord’s leading… as we share the “good news” that has changed our lives, let us also be comfortable in the spaces of contrast and unknown.

Dear God, I pray as Paul did that you would strengthen our hearts so that they would be blameless and holy in your presence. Allow us to be confident in who You are even in the unknown. May we sense your nearness and love because You first loved us. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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1 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 13&14; Matthew 22

“Abijam began to rule over Judah in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel.  he reigned in Jerusalem three years.  His mother was Maacah, the granddaughter of Absalom.  He committed the same sins as his father before him, and he was not faithful to the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had been.  But for David’s sake, the Lord his God allowed his descendants to continue ruling, shining like a lamp, and he gave Abijam a son to rule after him in Jerusalem.  For David had done what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and had obeyed the Lord’s commands throughout his life, except in the affair concerning Uriah the Hitite.  Asa began his rule over Judah in the twentieth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel.  He reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years.  His grandmother was Maacah, the granddaughter of Absalom.  Asa did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done.  Although the pagan sinners were not removed, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful to the Lord throughout his life.” 1 Kings 15:9-14 NLT

This passage has me thinking about God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and family lines.   Abijam’s and Asa’s mother and grandmother are mentioned by name.  As well as who their grandmother was. What was the purpose of them being mentioned?  Was it to show their influence?  That they were not overlooked?  I wonder how many prayers they had prayed for their family?  Even when sin entered David’s life, God’s goodness prevailed.  He saw David’s heart and kept his covenant with him.  David must have been bursting with pride over Asa’s devotion to the Lord.  This is fresh in my thoughts after visiting my dad in the hospital a couple days ago.  Watching my oldest son pray for his grandfather.  A legacy of faith being passed down through generations.

Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build towns and fortify them with walls, towers, gates, and bars.  The land is still ours because we sought the Lord our God, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they went ahead with these projects and brought them to completion.  So Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah.  Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord your God, for we trust in you alone.  It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde.  O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”  So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled.”  2 Chronicles 14:7, 10-12 NLT

Asa was victorious because he sought the Lord.  He didn’t rely on his own strength. He remained faithful to the Lord, when I’m sure it would have been easier to give up.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment under 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 demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NLT

Dear Father, thank you that you hear me.  That you see me.  Forgive me for when I want to follow my own way.  Help me to love others like you love me.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

 

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Proverbs 13-15; Matthew 9

In Matthew chapter 9, we see a series of people that came into contact with Jesus.

They had different issues, problems, and needs: a man who was paralyzed, a tax collector who had been known to take advantage of people, a woman who had suffered with bleeding for a dozen years, the heart-broken father of a girl who had died, two blind men, and a mute.

They all came to Jesus and were changed, according to their faith.

The paralyzed man walked home.

The tax collector became a Disciple.

The woman who bled was healed.

The girl was raised from the dead.

The blind saw.

The mute spoke.

And while Jesus was busy ministering to these needy people, the Pharisees looked on and despised him for it. They saw these people as broken, useless, and worthless. But Jesus saw something different.

Matthew 9:35-36 NIV

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Jesus’ compassion never ceases to amaze me. Jesus was passionate and strong about the things that mattered most. He didn’t shy away from conflict or from telling people the truth, and there are many times we read of him rebuking the Pharisees or those who were trying to destroy the work of God. But Jesus was also kind, compassionate, and gentle with those who were broken both physically and spiritually. He saw them far differently than everyone else – to Him, they had worth; they had potential. Instead of leaving them to their own devices, he introduced them to the power of God to change their lives and give them meaning and purpose. He knew the missing ingredient, and He was determined to share with them the hope that He had to offer.

There are so many broken people in our world, in our states, in our cities, and in our neighborhoods. How many of them are simply sheep without a shepherd, waiting for someone to share the hope of Jesus with them? Will we see them like Jesus, or like the Pharisees?

Matthew 9:37-38 NIV

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

I want to have the eyes of Jesus when I look at the world around me. I don’t want to be like the Pharisees, who saw people as obstacles; I want to see people as the gifts God has given me, the people He has entrusted to me, for the purposes of His kingdom. I want to offer healing, help, and hope in the name of Jesus. I want to be a worker in God’s kingdom to bring in the harvest of souls to heaven!

Father, forgive me for getting so caught up in my own comfort that I’ve missed those around me who are suffering and need You. Help me to be a vessel of your love and grace to those who are suffering, both physically and spiritually. I want to be a faithful worker in Your Kingdom, and to be a faithful representation of your compassion and kindness to those the world has written off as worthless, useless, and unnecessary. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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2 Chronicles 6-7; Matthew 3; Psalms 98-99

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.  For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy-a place where my name will be honored forever.  I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.” 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 NLT

I am seeing this verse in a new way.  The extravagant temple that Solomon built is a parallel to my body, His temple.  Am I surrendering it to Him?

He has set me apart.

He has made me holy.

He is watching over me.

He hears my prayers.

I am dear to his heart.

They cried to the Lord for help, and he answered them.  He spoke to Israel from the pillar of cloud, and they followed the laws and decrees he gave them.  O Lord our God, you answered them.  You were a forgiving God to them, but you punished them when they went wrong.  Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain in Jerusalem, for the Lord our God is holy!” Psalms 99:6-9 NLT

God spoke to Israel in the pillar of a cloud.  There have been times when I have wondered why he isn’t  speaking to me in ways that he is to someone else.  I was recently asked to paint during the worship service at my church.  This was a huge step of faith for me and a fear I had to overcome.  One of my biggest stumbling blocks was that I didn’t know what to paint.  I prayed for God to reveal an image to me.  When he seemed to be silent, the doubt would creep in.  I was frustrated when I would hear other artists tell of images that God gave them. But, he did answer me, it was just in a different way that I was expecting. He showed me that it wasn’t as much about what I was painting, as it was surrendering to him and breaking the bondage of old ways of thinking. He spoke through my pastor and his word.  He provided in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.  I could feel his peace and presence like never before.

“Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power! The Lord has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!  He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel.  The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” Psalms 98:1-3 NLT

Thank you Father that in you I have the victory.   That you hear me.  And you answer me.  I praise you for who you are. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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2 Samuel 18-20; 2 Cor. 6; Psalm 56

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
     In God, whose word I praise
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4, NIV

I’ve read this passage of scripture so many times. When I was younger I struggled in understanding how I could not be afraid … especially of tornadoes. I would sit in the back hallway of the house with the rest of my family and shake and cry in fear of what would happen when the tornado hit…which it never did. I would love to say I outgrew this fear and although I don’t sit and shake and cry when the tornado sirens go off, I’m still very much afraid.

Fear can be all encompassing. It can fill all our thoughts and cause us to singularly focus on the thing that is terrorizing our minds. We can freeze and loose hope for the future. All we know about the life of David demonstrates that he had every right to be afraid. Protecting his sheep from wild animals as a young kid, going up against Goliath as a young man, running from King Saul, running from his own son and as we see in this passage, being captured by the philistines have all been times of potential fear for David.

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

And yet…He says “I trust and am not afraid.” (Psalm 56:4,11) Right before each of these statements of trust, however, is the phrase “In God”. Unlike David, I have not learned to trust so completely that my fear is gone. I’m still afraid of many things. I can’t in my own power compel my fear to subside. But… “In God”. In God, I can learn. In God, I can slow down. In God, I can rest. In God, I can see God working. In God, I feel love. In God, I can love. In God, I receive mercy. In God, I am merciful. In God, I find grace. In God, I can be gracious. In God

In God. Am I in God? Am I pursuing God? Is my fear and anger keeping me from being in God? Is yours? In God is everything because it sets the stage for where God wants to lead us and what He wants to do in and through us. Are we In God?

Dear God, I pray my heart will be In You. I pray that when fear overwhelms, I will find my strength and identity In You. I pray that when I’m consumed with myself and my desires and wants I would turn and place myself In You. When I can’t do any more, I pray you take my life and place it In You. Please Father, do a work that I cannot. Do a work that brings me even more into you. I pray for those reading that they would be drawn into you. May our lives point others to you. And may the fear that clouds our vision, be diminished by being IN YOU. Amen.

Mandy Baldwin (mkaybaldwin)

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