Tag Archives: journey

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

Job 1-3; Psalm 29; Revelation 10

Psalm 29 (ICB)
God in the Thunderstorm
A song of David.

1Praise the Lord, you angels.
Praise the Lord’s glory and power.
2Praise the Lord for the glory of his name.
Worship the Lord because he is holy.

Yesappa,

You are glorious, full of power. I’m in awe of You. You are worthy to be praised. You are good. You are holy. You are full of righteousness. I lift my eyes to You and raise my hands in worship. I open my ears and my heart to You, trusting in Your grace, Your mercy, Your love.

3The Lord’s voice is heard over the sea.
The glorious God thunders.
The Lord thunders over the great ocean.
4The Lord’s voice is powerful.
The Lord’s voice is majestic.

I listen for Your voice in everything. I listen in the midst of moments of stillness. I listen in the midst of the tempests of life. I can find You in the quiet, yet Your voice is loud. I can find You in the thunder, yet Your voice is tranquil. Your voice can be heard no matter where I am. Your voice reverberates truth in my heart. Your powerful voice gives strength to me in my weakness and comforts me when I am feeling low, reminding me that I am Yours, I am the daughter of the King.

5The Lord’s voice breaks the trees.
The Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6He makes the land of Lebanon dance like a calf.
He makes Mount Hermon jump like a baby bull.
7The Lord’s voice makes the lightning flash.
8The Lord’s voice shakes the desert.
The Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9The Lord’s voice shakes the oaks.
The leaves fall off the trees.
In his Temple everyone says, “Glory to God!”

Your voice makes the earth respond to Your commands. With one word, You can build up. With one word, You can tear down. Your voice changes things; it changes the world around me. Your voice changes me, changes my heart.

10The Lord controls the flood.
The Lord will be King forever.
11The Lord gives strength to his people.
The Lord blesses his people with peace.

You are in control. Nothing is too big or too small. You are King. You will reign forever in the heavens and on the earth. Your name will ever be praised by Your creations.

You are more powerful than the storms in my life, thunderstorms that threaten my safety. You give me strength to withstand. You give me strength to overcome. Your peace that surpasses my understanding rests on me and Your truth brings triumph.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings,
Julie (juliet2912)

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Daniel 10-12; John 20

Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. 

Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.”

While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word. Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.”

Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!”

As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.” Daniel 10:12-19

I have been holding on to God, holding tight to what I believe He’s told me; and yet there is a battle going on for the break through. I believe that it’s a battle, not against flesh and blood, but in the spirit…the enemy desiring the breakdown of family, bitterness, and a turning from faith. Most of the time the enemy isn’t succeeding, but here and there my resolve to be strong in the circumstance weakens for a time and I am left frustrated and bewildered.

My husband and I got married in India in February 2010. I was born and raised in the US and he is an Indian citizen, and through a series of events – a long story for another time – we were brought together, a marriage arranged by God.

For the past year and a half we’ve been following procedure to acquire the visa that will allow our family to be reunited in this country – a process that can typically take up to 8 months. Through all this time apart, my husband has continued ministering to the orphans, widows, lepers, and poverty stricken. Meanwhile, I am stateside nurturing our family, educating our children, and praying for a miracle.

There have been minor roadblocks throughout the process – illness, a baby born, waiting on finances, etc. But a few months ago we hit a major obstacle that requires a miraculous breakthrough. Because I have been on and off the mission field since 2008, I have not held a paying job for any length of time. Needless to say, the income of a non-paid volunteer* is well below poverty level, and I do not financially qualify to be considered the sole-sponsor for my husband, a requirement for the next step in the process. In order for my husband’s visa to be granted, we need a co-sponsor who is able to team up with our family, and so far the search for that person is proving to be difficult.

This recounting in the book of Daniel, strengthens my hope and encourages me. It helps me remember that just because I pray hard with expectancy, I may not hear the answer right away. But that doesn’t mean that God hasn’t heard my prayer; it doesn’t mean that He hasn’t already put the answer in motion. God loves me and calls me precious to Him.

Even when I am most frustrated, I believe God already knows who will join with our family in this crazy adventure. I believe that person’s heart is being prepared even as I write this. I believe that God didn’t bring us together from worlds apart to allow the barricades the enemy sets up to tear us down and steal our family’s hope. I hold onto the peace He gives that surpasses understanding. I hold onto the encouragement He sends my way through His Word, through music that honors Him, through family and friends. I hold on to His strength. I hold on to the truth that God knew we’d experience this trial and that He already knows the solution; and I trust that He will give me the wisdom to know where to walk and through this journey, He will transform me more into His image.

Yesappa, Thank You in advance for the answer. Thank You in advance for making it possible for our family to be reunited. Thank You in advance for leading me to the person who will partner with us in this adventure. Thank You for Your peace and Your strength in my weakness. Help me walk out each day in this journey in a way that displays Your glory, and help me glean from the lessons this trial is teaching me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

 

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Jeremiah 49-50; Hebrews 5

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:12-14

These verses first stood out to me when I was involved in the House of Prayer. I had the opportunity to receive training from various teachers who had spent unbelievable amounts of time in the Word. And, these verses were a huge part of why I started writing for 66Books.

I was in my first year of motherhood, exhausted as most mothers are. I was new to the struggle of balancing life duties with my desire to spend huge amounts of time in the prayer closet. My daughter didn’t understand (and still doesn’t) that I needed to have time alone, time with God. And, though I incorporated God as best that I could into my day-to-day life, I was feeling dry and empty.

One day in desperation, at the end of my rope, completely burned out, I prayed and asked God to show me what to do, to show me a solution. I wanted something that would help me get back into the Word the way I had been in years past. I wanted someone to help hold me accountable to setting time aside to delve deeper than my simple (yet effective) “Help me Holy Ghost” prayers.

Less than a week later, I got a random email from a woman who I didn’t know, but who has become one of my dearest friends, asking me if I would consider contributing to the 66Books blog. The moment I read the email, I knew that it was a direct answer to prayer, and I stepped into this amazing journey of exploration into the world of ‘solid food’.

I’ve probably read the whole Bible 15-20 times throughout my life. I was raised in a Christian home, went to Christian school for my early and middle education, attended church and youth group as a teen, and then when I really started following Christ, I went to ministry school and began getting involved in missions. Much of those readings could have been considered ‘milk’; just surface readings to get the work done, to memorize the Bible verse so I’d pass a test, or racing with friends to see who could get the most read the fastest.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong with reading the Word as straight forward ‘logos’, just the reading the words as they are written, as a story and as a biographical work. Sometimes I need it to be easy (especially when reading the Mosaic law in the Old Testament); I just need to drink it in, like a baby drinks milk to be sustained.

But something has changed in me, and even as I am reading, I am ever looking out for that ‘rhema’ Word, a word or a phrase or a group of verses that resonates, that seems like it was spoken just for me in that moment. When it pops out, highlighted on the page, I know that is where God is leading me to dig and explore; and there is where I start to chew on the solid food, the meat of the Word.

What I have begun to learn on this journey of gnawing on solid food, is that there is so much more for me, so much hidden in the Word that is specific and relevant to my life, to my struggles, to my personal walk. There are nuggets of wisdom buried like treasure in everything that has been written, in the choice of words (even those words that may not have been translated in the best way), just like the parables were bites of concealed knowledge understood by those who pressed in and were enlightened.

I have learned that when I read the Bible at face value, I am nourished; but when I chew on the meat of the Word, I feast. My mind and my heart are opened in new ways to God’s grace, God’s mercy, and God’s love; and, I am overflowing with His goodness and filled by His faithfulness.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 66 Books, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Hebrews, Jeremiah, New Testament, Old Testament

Psalm 142, 143, 144; 1 Corinthians 10:14-33

With my voice I cry out to the Lord;

with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.

I pour out my complaint before him;

I tell my trouble before him…

I cry to you, O Lord;

I say, “You are my refuge,

my portion in the land of the living.”

Attend to my cry,

for I am brought very low!

Deliver me from my persecutors,

for they are too strong for me! Psalm 142:1-2; 5-6

My struggles bring me low, mentally and emotionally. They often feel overwhelming, especially when they seem to be never-ending. Though they are nothing like David’s circumstances were, in exile, hiding out from his enemy in caves in the wilderness, my struggles still are demoralizing and frustrating.

I personally don’t think that God puts tribulation in my path, but I do believe that He uses the struggles of my life to teach me, draw out negative character traits, and help me grow as a person and as a believer. I also am certain that He uses them to show me more of who He is, more of His faithfulness.

Sometimes it takes me a while to get over myself and my disappointment at the circumstances of my life. Sometimes it takes me a bit to realize that the enemy is trying to convince me to believe his lies. But largely, I have come to learn that in the midst of a battle I have a choice to be overcome by the situation or to trust in Jesus.

Hear my prayer, O Lord;

give ear to my pleas for mercy!

In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!

Enter not into judgment with your servant,

for no one living is righteous before you…

I stretch out my hands to you;

my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

Answer me quickly, O Lord!

My spirit fails!

Hide not your face from me,

lest I be like those who go down to the pit.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,

for in you I trust.

Make me know the way I should go,

for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143 1-2; 6-8

He really is bigger than any of my problems. He can handle my emotions. He can handle my anger, my desperation, my hopelessness. He just wants me to be honest and to call out to Him. He wants me to come to Him in my weakness, when my spirit is failing and I am feeling deserted. He wants me to lean into His love and be carried by His goodness. He wants me to stop looking at my surroundings; and instead, He wants me raise my hands to Him in worship, lift my voice in praise, and focus my eyes on His face.

Blessed be the Lord, my rock,

who trains my hands for war,

and my fingers for battle;

he is my steadfast love and my fortress,

my stronghold and my deliverer,

my shield and he in whom I take refuge,

who subdues peoples under me. Psalm 144:1-2

When I look back at past trials in my life, I can see that His hand has guided me, that He has taught me valuable lessons. I can see that He has been my rock and my stronghold of protection. I can see that He has never left me alone, but has helped me move through the crazy mazes of life with skill and with wisdom.

Yesappa, Blessed be Your name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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1 Chronicles 11-13; John 9:1-23

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. John 9:1-7

I have been blessed to have witnessed and been a part of a host of miraculous healings, both in the United States and in India. Some of them were observable healings, like large, visible tumors shrinking to nothing, blinded eyes clearing, the lengthening of limbs to heal lopsided gaits, and restoration of life in dying bodies. Some of the healings were physical, yet internal, later confirmed by doctors, like cancer vanishing, clots melting back into the blood stream, heart failure reversing, and women considered barren baring children. Some of them were psychological healings, certified over time, like people with mental disorders returning to their families fully functional and others given freedom from demonic possession.

It is amazing when a miracle occurs, when a life is restored to normal functioning, or sometimes even better. And, it is an honor to be used by my heavenly Father as an instrument in several of these testimonies.

I will admit, when I am asked to pray for people, I often wonder what their back stories are. What happened in their lives to bring them to this point? Is their problem a consequence for sin in their lives? Is it a result of holding onto unforgiveness? Or is it an opportunity for them (and me) to press into God?

The story of the man blind from birth helps me remember that ultimately the circumstances are less important than the demonstration of God’s glory. God desires to show Himself to the world in every way that He can and will use all situations to reach hearts. And, what I have been learning throughout the past few years is that God is able to reveal who He is whether what we call a miracle happens or not. God uses everything that happens in our lives to draw us closer to Him.

One testimony of this is of my Aunt Lynn. Around five years ago, my aunt was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer; her prognosis was grim. After fighting the disease, through prayer and chemo and radiation, she succumbed a week after the birth of my first born. Her life was a miracle and a testament to God’s goodness, despite the fact that she was not healed on this side of heaven.

During this trial, rather than asking ‘why’, she focused her trust on God. She pressed into Him for peace, for grace, for strength. She drew closer to Him, nestling her head in the comfort and safety of His arms. She showed the world around her the righteousness of God and how truly beautiful relationship with Christ can be when we rely on Him. God was displayed through her experience.

Yesappa , Thank You for Your healing power and Your goodness to Your children. Thank you for the miracles that You do on earth as it is in heaven. Thank You for using the circumstances that the enemy has meant for evil, to accomplish Your purposes. Thank You for drawing me close to You during trials and holding onto me in the midst of less than pleasant circumstances. Thank You for showing me how beautiful you are and for helping me show the world Your face. In Jesus name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

 

This is a song that my Aunt sang before her death. Though this version is not her performance, the song speaks to my heart about God’s goodness and how I can show His beauty to the world.

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 66 Books, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, John, New Testament, Old Testament

Deuteronomy 1; Psalms 81, 82; Isaiah 29; 3 John 1

The Lord says:

“These people worship me with their mouths,

and honor me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

Their worship is based on

nothing but human rules.

So I will continue to amaze these people

by doing more and more miracles.

Their wise men will lose their wisdom;

their wise men will not be able to understand.” Isaiah 29:13-14 (NCV)

Their worship is based on nothing but human rules. (NCV)

They act like they’re worshiping me but don’t mean it. (MSG)

Their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote. (NLT)

Their fear and reverence for Me are a commandment of men that is learned by repetition [without any thought as to the meaning]. (AMP)

Their ‘fear of me’ is just a mitzvah – [a good deed performed out of religious duty] – of human origin. (CJB)

Their religion is nothing but human rules and traditions, which they have simply memorized. (GNT)

Their worship of Me consists of man-made traditions learned by rote; it is a meaningless sham. (VOICE)

I recently had a conversation with a friend of the family about faith. He told me that he hates religion. Being a nonbeliever, I think he was trying to bait me, hoping I would get offended by his comments, so he could prove that Christians (or at least me) are hypocrites.

My response: I hate religion too. (I think he was a little shocked, never expecting such words to come from the mouth of a missionary).

To make myself clear…I LOVE Jesus. Being in relationship with a Heavenly Father, a Holy Trinity who loves me with an everlasting love is life-altering. My faith in Him gives me the ability to have compassion for the people society has rejected deeming them unworthy with no more value than heaped trash. My belief in Him has allowed me to witness miraculous transformations and partake in the changing of lives, of destinies.

I decided at the beginning of my journey with God that it could never be about “Christianese” and being holier-than-thou. I want ‘real’ and ‘relevant’ instead of artificial rituals. I need the Word of God to come alive, not just be lifeless sentences in an ancient book. I desire a five senses, experiential knowledge of the Savior who gave His life for me. I crave relationship over religiosity, freedom opposed to a ball-and-chain.

If I am going to follow Jesus it has to be a full-on commitment rooted in Him, one where He is seamlessly integrated into my life from morning to night: When I sit. When I walk. When I push my daughters on swings or run to stop my oldest from running into the street. When I lie down. When I rise. When I am bleary eyed and exhausted. When I am washing dishes and folding mounds of laundry. When life is a cake walk. And, when it is a scary, chaotic mess.

My commitment to worship my King originates from my heart, from the created to the Creator. It is initiated by love and longing, not by unattainable rules created by fear, overcomplicated regulations created by man to foster guilt and condemnation.

And so, I choose to worship with adoration Father, who offers me an easy yoke and a light burden. I choose to worship with reverence Son, who beckons me to come and grants rest. I choose to worship with devotion Holy Spirit who gives helps me and produces the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in my life. (Matthew 11:28-30; John 14:16-17; Galatians 5:22-23).

Yesappa, help me to never turn to rules and regulations, to traditions instead of to You. Help my worship be true, and worthy of Your Glory. Help my heart stay close to Yours; write my name on Your palm and mark me with Your seal upon my forehead. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India (written in the U.S.A.)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 3 John, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms