Tag Archives: Jesus

2 Kings 14:11-17:18 

And the bronze altar that was before the LORD he removed from the front of the house, from the place between his altar and the house of the LORD, and put it on the north side of his altar. 15And King Ahaz commanded Uriah the priest, saying, “On the great altar burn the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering and the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. And throw on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice, but the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by.” ~ II Kings 16:14,15 ESV

Israel continues to slide further from God, each new king marking a new record low. Ahaz sacrificed his own children to false, foreign gods. He burned incense to them, he took money from the temple of the true God to pay for an alliance with an ungodly king. He sold himself out.

He also tried to hang on to the faith of David, a little. Taken with the model of an idol’s altar, he had one made just for him. He tried to “keep up with the Jones’s” and still keep God within reach. Moving the true altar to the side, he wanted to keep it on hand in case he ever had a question.

The power of the great I AM was unmistakable, but he wanted to retain the sacrifice part of  faith (hoping to gain victory in battle and direction in times of uncertainty) without having to worry about the obedience aspect of it.The rest of the time (the morning offering, the evening, the blood, the kind’s offering, the grain offering, etc.) he wanted to call the shots.

Our faith is not built on a pick and choose mentality. It’s all or nothing. It’s the pearl of great price. Jesus Christ needs to be our everything.

We cannot borrow models from the world’s design. God has laid out how we should live and a book that shows us who He is. I need to avoid temptation to add or take away from God’s character based on what sounds pleasant to my human mind.

God needs to stay the center of my focus. He can’t be just part of the picture, He needs to be the center, the guide, the lead, the driver, the instructor, the epicenter that everything else reverberates out from.

Dear Lord, I want You to always be my ultimate priority. Give me the strength and wisdom to perpetually keep You first in my life. I don’t want You to be my last resort, but rather my first defense. Help me to put a hedge around Your place in my life and not let anything infringe on that. Lord, I don’t want to pattern my life according to the world’s example, but rather to always look to Your instruction and standards even when my sinfulness threatens to pull me a different direction. Thank you for Your gracious forgiveness when I fall short and the graphic reminders in Scripture to keep me learning at Your feet. ~Amen

5intow (Erin)

From the archives. Originally published May 7, 2009.

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Job 37-39; Psalm 103; Revelation 21

If you asked me last January what I thought the year would hold, I never would have imagined this: chickens. My youngest daughter started high school, and this summer, as part of immersive learning, we ordered a few baby chicks to raise. Not only were they adorable, soft and cuddly–they were already smart. A touch of their beak to water, and they knew to drink; they instinctively knew to dust bathe; to take shelter or freeze from a predator’s call; to take shelter in the coop at night and roost; and they have a song they sing when they lay an egg. Sometimes I sit out in the run with them, holding them, listening to their chatter, and admiring the crazy beautiful colors of their feathers. The feathers shimmer and throw off hues of emerald in the amber and black. All that beauty in a chicken.

When the Lord challenges Job in today’s chapters, I believe him. I see his majesty in all that he mentions, just as I see it in the iridescence of a bird’s feather. When I read through Psalm 103’s reminder of what the Lord has done, I praise him too. The truth of who he is and what he has done gives me confidence (awe and reverence) of Revelation.

 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:3-8, NLT)

Going into a next year, I have no idea what it holds. But I trust in the Alpha and the Omega–my God who is trustworthy and true.

The Lord has made the heavens his throne;
    from there he rules over everything.

20 Praise the Lord, you angels,
    you mighty ones who carry out his plans,
    listening for each of his commands.
21 Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels
    who serve him and do his will!
22 Praise the Lord, everything he has created,
    everything in all his kingdom.

Let all that I am praise the Lord. (Psalm 103:19-22, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Daniel 10-12; John 20

A man comes to Daniel and shares a vision of the future. He tells it like it has already happened. He gives details in strategy, character, weaknesses and strengths–like it already happened. And even though the news is a wartime play-by-play, there is a message of certainty, comfort, and guidance.

11 And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” (Daniel 10:11, NLT)

19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” (Daniel 10:19, NLT)

This man speaks of “appointed time” in several spots–and there is sovereignty in those words.

Regarding the words another man spoke, Daniel says:

I heard what he said, but I did not understand what he meant. So I asked, “How will all this finally end, my lord?”

But he said, “Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means.

11 “From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. 12 And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days!

13 “As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you.” (Daniel 12:8-13, NLT)

In the Old Testament reading, blessed are the ones who wait and remain until the end. In the New Testament reading, blessed are those who believe without seeing.

26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. (John 20:26-31, NLT)

When things don’t make sense or seem unbelievable to be real, when trials purify, cleanse and refine, Lord, help me to quiet my thoughts and remember this: you are sovereign. Nothing happens without your knowledge and appointment. Help me to walk out my days in faith and confidence.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 28-30; John 10

God is just. When he sends word to the prince of Tyre, he explains the fault and the consequence. And I am most effected by how the attitudes of the heart can be such a trespass against the Lord.

In your great pride you claim, ‘I am a god!
    I sit on a divine throne in the heart of the sea.’
But you are only a man and not a god,
    though you boast that you are a god.
You regard yourself as wiser than Daniel
    and think no secret is hidden from you.
With your wisdom and understanding you have amassed great wealth—
    gold and silver for your treasuries.
Yes, your wisdom has made you very rich,
    and your riches have made you very proud.

“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
Because you think you are as wise as a god,
    I will now bring against you a foreign army,
    the terror of the nations.
They will draw their swords against your marvelous wisdom
    and defile your splendor!
They will bring you down to the pit,
    and you will die in the heart of the sea,
    pierced with many wounds.
Will you then boast, ‘I am a god!’
    to those who kill you?
To them you will be no god
    but merely a man!
10 You will die like an outcast
    at the hands of foreigners.
    I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” (Ezekiel 28:2b-10, NLT, emphasis added)

God’s heart was for man. He wanted the best for man. I find this passage a tender grief and grievous contrast between the life the Lord offered and the life man chose.

You were the model of perfection,
    full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty.

13 You were in Eden,
    the garden of God.
Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone—
    red carnelian, pale-green peridot, white moonstone,
    blue-green beryl, onyx, green jasper,
    blue lapis lazuli, turquoise, and emerald—
all beautifully crafted for you
    and set in the finest gold.
They were given to you
    on the day you were created.
14 I ordained and anointed you
    as the mighty angelic guardian.
You had access to the holy mountain of God
    and walked among the stones of fire.

15 You were blameless in all you did
    from the day you were created
    until the day evil was found in you
.
16 Your rich commerce led you to violence,
    and you sinned.
So I banished you in disgrace
    from the mountain of God.
I expelled you, O mighty guardian,
    from your place among the stones of fire.
17 Your heart was filled with pride
    because of all your beauty.
Your wisdom was corrupted
    by your love of splendor.
So I threw you to the ground
    and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings.
18 You defiled your sanctuaries
    with your many sins and your dishonest trade.
So I brought fire out from within you,
    and it consumed you.
I reduced you to ashes on the ground
    in the sight of all who were watching.
19 All who knew you are appalled at your fate.
    You have come to a terrible end,
    and you will exist no more.” (Ezekiel 28:13-19, NLT, emphasis added)

Jesus explains abundant life–he is the gate. He is the shepherd. He watches over, protects, and provides for his flock. He loves them (to death!), and they love and trust him.

“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” (John 10:7b-18, NLT)

I think of this selection alongside the previous one–of things given on the day we were created. How sin, arrogance, pride, greed, haughtiness, unbelief–all the things that can come between us and a pure and rich relationship with God. It starts in the heart.

24 The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:25-27, NLT)

Lord, I focus on you and keep you center of my vision. It’s so easy to be distracted by polarizing points, the next great fear or concern, or even when the good and great things happen–to be fed full of the reward to lose sight of the provider. Be my center. Be my focus so I’m not distracted or diverted down wrong paths. Gate and shepherd–you are truly all that I could ever need.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 13-15; Psalm 136; John 5

What did he say?

Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, prophesy against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Say to them, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!’ (Ezekiel 13:1-3, NLT)

What did the Lord say?

“Therefore, tell the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent and turn away from your idols, and stop all your detestable sins. I, the Lord, will answer all those, both Israelites and foreigners, who reject me and set up idols in their hearts and so fall into sin, and who then come to a prophet asking for my advice. I will turn against such people and make a terrible example of them, eliminating them from among my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 14:6-8, NLT)

What did the Lord say?

One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?

“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!

Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, 10 so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!”

11 But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”

12 “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.

13 The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. 14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” 15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him. (John 5:5-15, NLT, emphasis added)

When there’s so much to take in in the story, it’s easy to miss the message by considering the setting, interpreting a message, looking at the Pharisees. What did the Lord say? If I look past the descriptive sentences and focus on the dialogue, what did the Lord say? What if he said those words to me? Just these words: “Would you like to get well? Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk! Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.”

Something even worse than being hindered and ineffective for 38 years. Something even worse than watching everyone else take action and rise victorious. Something even worse than blaming others, feeling abandoned, being stuck, or feeling self pity.

Lord, you’ve not been silent. You speak your word to people who may not want to hear or listen. This reading today (beyond what I’ve selected) tells me so much that you’ve said–about truth, accountability, error, sin, forgiveness, judgment, and more. You didn’t tell that man at Bethesda, “Ah, you’re a sinner so you’re just going to keep on sinning. It’s ok. Stay where you are.” You offered him a choice, told him to take action, and reminded him about who he is: NOW YOU ARE WELL. SO STOP SINNING. Oh, if I would just keep your words high above all the other distractions–a setting, a message, a body of people and their judgment. If I just kept your word as my focus–to choose you, to take action, to remember who I am in you. Could it be that simple? To lay down my excuses and my feelings, and just follow you to freedom and victory?

Courtney (66books365)

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