Tag Archives: Jesus

Exodus 26; John 5; Proverbs 2; Galatians 1

I remember the first time I told someone God talked to me.  I now know why the reaction was so much of a recoil.

Moses was my first inspiration.  In fact, I remember vividly telling God that I wanted to be the next Moses.  I mean look at the details that God gave him – imagine the conversations.

You shall also make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; you shall make eleven curtains.  The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; the eleven curtains shall be of the same size.  You shall join five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and the sixth curtain you shall double over at the front of the tent.   – Exodus 26:7-9 NRSV

Even Jesus told those in His time that if they really knew God, really heard from Him, they would know that He was God.  Why?  Because Moses wrote about Jesus.

Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope.  If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.  But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” – John 5:45-47 NRSV

And in the copy of my first book, given to me by the wife/mother of a family that took us into their home when we had nothing – she penned this proverb…

My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding; if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures—then you will understand the fear of the Lord  and find the knowledge of God. – Proverbs 2:1-5 NRSV

I took all of this with me into my first pastorate experience.  That is where I found out just how many people “hear” what God has been telling them.  So the issue, I found out, really isn’t that God does not talk to us and that we shouldn’t take time to listen, the issue is – who am I listening too?

For I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[d] that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. – Galatians 1:11-12 NRSV

Lord, I want to hear your voice, I want you to speak through Your Word to me loud and clear.  Enable me to grow more intimate with You, to serve as You in our world and to leave this world a better place than when I entered it because I walked with You.  Thank You.  

evanlaar

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus, Galatians, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Proverbs, Uncategorized

Genesis 48; Luke 1:39-80; Job 14; I Corinthians 2

I just found out recently that the famous fictional author, John Grisham, is a follower of Christ.  In the story I was reading they shared a defining moment in his spiritual journey and it went something like this —

Several years after graduating from Mississippi State University, when one of his classmates in law school told John he was terminally ill. Grisham asked him, “What do you do when you realize you are about to die?” The friend replied, “It’s real simple. You get things right with God, and you spend as much time with those you love as you can. Then you settle up with everybody else.”

The Old Testament is filled with moments of death only because those are also the time of blessings, just as Jacob’s upcoming passing in Genesis 48 caused him to reach out and bless Joseph’s sons.

Death was the reason Jesus came – and Jesus is the reason that John the Baptist came – two miracles expressed so beautifully in Luke 1 when Mary and Elizabeth greet each other.

Job expressed well what death looked like to him – what death looked like before Jesus. Sounds a lot like my favourite book, Ecclesiastes – few days, full of trouble, a shadow, and it does not continue. However, do not miss the hope – 

O that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! – Job 14:13 (NRSV)

With life as short as it is and with Jesus being our only hope, it is for this very reason that I love discipling others.  Discipleship keeps things simple.  How to take the profound truths of the gospel, Jesus death and resurrection, and make them simple enough for people to pass from death to life. Paul tried to capture this struggle himself  —

So that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:5 (NRSV)

I still remember my much older Dutch friend as I was leading him into the simple truths of what it meant to be a follower of Christ.  We approached the topic of giving.  He could not, he said if he did the heating bill would not be paid.  We prayed.  He decided on Sunday to trust God.  When we met a few weeks later I asked if the heating bill was paid – he said yes.  When I checked in again six months later he said that he made more money in the past six months than in the past year and a half.  He passed from death to life in his walk with God, became a passionate follower of Christ and chaired the missions board at his church for ten years because others needed to hear about Jesus. He kept it simple – let them discover they could trust Him – trust His promises and place their hope in Him. 

evanlaar

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Filed under Uncategorized, Luke, 1 Corinthians, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Job, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

Genesis 32; Mark 3; Esther 8; Romans 3

After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.” Romans 3:29-31 NLT

Faith makes all the difference.

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 found favor with him, and if he thinks its right, and if I am pleasing him, let there be a decree that reverses the orders of Haman son of Hammedatha the 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 8:3-6 NLT

Esther had great faith.

Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said , “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”…Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” Genesis 32:26& 28 NLT

I have a friend who told me that she was struggling with her faith. She was surprised when I told her that there have been times in my life when I have lost faith too. And I have wrestled with God. My friend thanked me for sharing so honestly and said it was helping her. I think that Satan likes it when I hold it all in and don’t tell anyone my doubts. When I share my fears it brings them to light and takes away the stronghold it has on me.

Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!” Mark 3:3-5 NLT

My faith is restored… He remains faithful.

Dear Jesus. Help my faith to be greater than my fear. Forgive me for putting my faith in the wrong things. You are my healer and restorer. I put my hope in you. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Esther, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, Romans

Genesis 19; Matthew 18; Nehemiah 8; Acts 18

I was 15 years old and my older brother had just left home to live his life on his own at the ripe old age of 17.  In my brokenness, I fell onto the living room couch telling God what was the use of following Him when He could not even intervene.  As if an audible voice inside me responded – He said, “You don’t even know me.”  I immediately became very hungry to read, meditate and understand what God was describing about Himself and what He wanted me to do.   

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” – Matthew 18:1 NRSV

When I am around those mighty Phd’s in philosophy and theology, I take comfort that my faith, growing and maturing as I spend time with my Father, puts me into my own special relationship with God.  I am actually totally dependent on Him.  He provides me with everything I need.  I may be skeptical or I have been known to argue with Him from time to time, but for the most part I just believe He is the source of my life and is completely necessary.  

And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.  – Nehemiah 8:12 NRSV

So one has to love Ezra who decides to hold a seven-day Bible conference to get the rookies all ordained in the ways and directions that God has established for those who want to journey with Him.  Clearly, simply, completely – until they understood every Word.  I get it when they leave that conference with so much joy – the truth will set you free!

Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures.  He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.  He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately. – Acts 18:24-26 NRSV

How encouraging for me to know that even Apollos, a disciple of John the Baptist, was humble enough to know that he did not get it all – most of it – but not everything.  Probably had all the dots, just was not quite sure enough on how to make all the connections.   

Lord, I am thrilled to have mentors around me to hear me pontificate the importance of what I know and then to have them loving take me aside and explain the Way of God more accurately.

 

evanlaar

 

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Ezra, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Uncategorized

Genesis 15; Matthew 14; Nehemiah 4; Acts 14

“Peter said to him,” Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water. And he said, “Come!” and Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith! Why did you doubt?” Matt 14:28-31

Everywhere I turn, in everything I read, I’m hearing the Lord tell me to keep my eyes on Him. To make looking at Him the way I live, moment to moment. I’m learning this gaze…trying to learn it…praying to learn it.

Yet too many times lately the wind has been so strong and the water has been choppy, and I have looked at them, and become afraid, and begun to sink into the dangerous depths of anxiety.

This looking is an act of faith; a choice.

I read about Abraham, in Genesis 15, who believed God’s promise to make His offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky, even though he had no son, and it was counted to him as righteousness (v.6).

What will I look at? My circumstances? My reasoning? Or will I look at the one who created me? The one who knows the end from the beginning?

And yet there is more. Not only must I be careful where I look, but to whom I listen.

I read about Nehemiah and the builders and the voices that comprised their “winds”of adversity. The enemy of my soul whispers lies.  That I am feeble…that I will only, always, ever fail. (Nehemiah 4:2-3)

It’s not just the circumstances, but the lies of the deceiver…arrows aimed at my weakest spots on my weakest days.

To my unknowns he whispers worst case scenarios and if I listen, suddenly , I’m not just dealing with the wind and the waves that are actually there, but with wind and waves that do not exist and may never come my way… “what ifs” and worries.

I must not look at the wind and the waves, I must not listen to the mockery of the enemy.

I must only LOOK UNTO JESUS.

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)

I look to Him in faith, look to Him for faith, and all of my looking is with the faith He provides.

And that, my friend, is grace. All grace.

Amy W. (gueston66books)

From the archives. Originally published January 14, 2013.

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

Genesis 12; Matt. 11; Nehemiah 1; Acts 11

Merry Christmas; Happy New Year; Glad Tidings; Joy to the world – songs and cards and greetings for a season. Many of us wistfully desire to keep holiday smiles, generosity, and sentimentality the whole year through. Life interrupts. We’re pulled up short. Then we wonder, “Where did my joy go?”

Commercialized industry urges us to pack up our Christmas joy, stuff it in the attic for next year, and wait obediently for the next brief holiday to hit the shelves. I have to admit that I keep my Christmas decorations up long after the New Year’s party is over, perhaps fearing I will box away joy leaving home and heart as void as my depleted checkbook. I was asked the other day if I am someone who sees the glass half empty or half full, and I could only stutter something unintelligible about relativity. So I prayed, “God, teach me where to find Your joy.” I think He took great pleasure in answering right away.

In Genesis 12:2, God promises Abraham that all the families of the earth will be blessed through him, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” Joy can be found in God’s smile and in the warmth of His pleasure. Even before Abraham left his countrymen to follow God’s plan, God was happy with him. I, too, can enjoy the blessings of an intimate relationship with God.

But fear and anxiety can steal joy. Over the last six months, the grandson of a good friend has been undergoing cancer treatment at St. Jude’s. I marvel to read his testimony of courage and strength, penned by his Christian mother. She points to the blessings spoken by Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:29. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Joy can be found in that invitation, for fear and anxiety melt away when burdens are laid at the feet of Jesus.

Joy also comes from knowing that God looks and listens when we pray. Nehemiah 1:5 records the confidence in Nehemiah’s prayers. “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments; please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night…” Day or night, in triumph or tragedy, even in the midst of confession there is joy in that the God of the universe sees and hears me and, most of all, answers prayers!

So when I look for joy, I need not venture far. I can see the grace of God in me, in my friends, in the church, and in the salvation of each new Christian. I want to be like Barnabas, the New Testament missionary, when he responded to Gentiles receiving the gospel message. Acts 11:22-24 says, “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” Joy does not end with the passing of a season or the storage of the Baby in a manger. Nor is my cup half empty or half full. For my  cup is overflowing with joy from the daily blessings of a good Father, divine rest from heavy burdens, and unending grace in the presence of Christ Jesus. Wouldn’t you like to drink this cup of joy?

Cheers to us all!

Janet (jansuwilkinson) All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition. (2002)

After writing, today, I listened to this sermon delivered by the son-in-law of my good friend. What a delight to hear a similar message (much better delivered, too!) about joy.

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Nehemiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Zechariah 12-14; Psalm 94; 2 John

And the clans of Judah will say to themselves, ‘The people of Jerusalem have found strength in the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, their God.” Zechariah 12:5 NLT

I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.” Zechariah 13:9 NLT

Joyful are those you discipline, Lord, those you teach your instructions. You give them relief from troubled times until a pit is dug to capture the wicked. The Lord will not reject his people; he will not abandon his special possession.” Psalm 94:12-14 NLT

Unless the Lord had helped me, I would soon have settled in the silence of the grave. I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, you comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:17-19 NLT

He delivers me

He refines me

He disciplines me

He comforts me

He loves me and commands me to love others….

How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded. I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. That is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. I say this because many deceivers have gone into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an Antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 1:7-9 NLT

How do I stay discerning while loving others who are far from him?

Because, sometimes I worry that I will be deceived.

Jesus says to remain in Him. According to Websters, the word Remain means…

‘To stay in the same place or with the same person or group; to stay behind.’

When I am not doing this my heart gets restless. I start to doubt that God’s plans for me are good. I become ungrateful, unforgiving and discontent. I am critical, instead of loving. I miss out on his peace. But, if I am abiding, my eyes are open to how he is working around me. I get to be a part of seeing prayers answered and hearts changed. When I ask for wisdom, he gives it. I can love others out of faith and not fear.

But the Lord is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.” Psalm 94:22 NLT

Father, I pray that I would wait on you and seek you first. I pray that you would show me how to love others with the love you have shown me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Filed under 2 John, Psalms, Zechariah