Tag Archives: joy

Numbers 23; Psalm 64, 65; Isaiah 13; 1 Peter 1

I have a friend who grew up in a Christian home, and I remember her telling me many years ago, she knew without a doubt that Christ would have gone to the cross even if it was just for her. I considered her words, then, with a personal sadness, because while I believed Christ would die to save the world, I didn’t think I alone would be worth saving. Over these years in God’s Word, He has spoken into my heart. He has told me the truth.

1 This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.

I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

May God give you more and more grace and peace.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

13 So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

17 And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” 18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.

21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 24 As the Scriptures say,

“People are like grass;
    their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.
25     But the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:1-25, NLT)

I started to highlight the verses that stirred my heart, but I undid the emphasis because I had selected nearly every word from 1 Peter 1.

Thank you, Lord, for loving me. For choosing me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 25; Psalms 32; Ecclesiastics 8; 2 Timothy 4

“While Moses was on Mount Sinai, the Lord said to him, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel.  When you have entered the land I am giving you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath rest before the Lord every seventh year.  For six years you may plant your fields and prune your vineyards and harvest your crops, but the seventh year the land must have a Sabbath year of complete rest.  It is the Lord’s Sabbath.  Do not plant your fields of prune your vineyards during that year.”  Leviticus 25:1-4 NLT

In times of rest and Sabbath, sometimes I can feel stuck.  I forget that God is working in the waiting.  I wonder how the Israelties felt.  Did they look out on the empty fields and see God’s provision or lack?

“In my search for wisdom and in my observation of people’s burden’s here on earth, I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night.  I realized that no one can discover everything God is doing under the sun.  Not even the wisest people discover everything, no matter what they claim.” Ecclesiastes 8:16&17 NLT

Do I trust that God is in control? Am I worrying about the future so much that I am missing the joy of today?  I can become impatient in the waiting.  I forget all that God has done in the past.  But, maybe God is using those times to reflect on His goodness.  To build my faith.

Paul’s faith was evident in his life.  He was always looking forward. Paul spoke courage and bravery into Timothy, to continue the work that he started.  I think about the words that I am speaking out loud and to myself.  What kind of legacy am I leaving?

“But you should keep a clear mind in every situation.  Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord.  Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.  As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God.  The time of my death is near.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and I have remained faithful.  But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear.  And he rescued me from certain death.  Yes, the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom.  All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.”  2 Timothy 4:5-7,17&18 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for your faithfulness. Help me to step out in faith even when I don’t understand.  Thank you for always meeting me where I am. Amen.

“For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble.  You surround me with songs of victory.  The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.” Psams 32:7-8 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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Filed under 2 Timothy, 66 Books, Ecclesiastes, Leviticus, Psalms

Leviticus 2,3; John 21; Proverbs 18; Colossians 1

Whenever I read John 21, there is something about it that fills me with joy.

Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

This reminds me of the first time Jesus told Peter to throw his net on the other side of the boat. It was when he called him to be fishers of men. Peter surely remembered it. I wonder if Peter was going back to that time BEFORE he denied Jesus; if he needed to be in that place where he first met Jesus. My bible is precious to me.  It is filled with dates and words and memories of the times I’ve met with Jesus.  When I need to be encouraged, that’s where I go—back to the place I met Jesus.

I thought a lot about Peter and what might have been going through his head in light of how I struggle with my sin—when I know I’ve done something that really must have hurt God.  I’ve gone the gamut from being so upset with myself and couldn’t believe I did it.  I was humbled and sad and ashamed of myself for being tempted to do something I never thought I’d do. I can imagine Peter could have felt like that as well.  In repentance, I’ve gone before the Lord and confessed my sin asking to be forgiven.  But I went feeling shame and remorse. That’s why the fact Peter didn’t hesitate to run to Jesus, to jump out of the boat and swim to shore, fills me with joy.  He didn’t hold back in shame; he immediately went to Jesus. The love Peter had for Jesus was evident.  He had no doubt Jesus felt the same about him. That is a lesson for me as well.  I have no need to hold back in shame but immediately run to Jesus in expectation of forgiveness. Later in this same chapter we see total restoration as Jesus gives him his assignment to continue what Jesus started.  He even prepares him for how he will die. We know the rest of the story and how the disciples went willingly to spread the gospel and how they became martyr’s in the name of Jesus even knowing what might happen.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Jesus reconciled Peter.  Jesus reconciled Paul.  Jesus reconciled me.

Lord, I thank you for stories and an imagination where I can picture myself as the main character.  I can picture myself as Peter, I can imagine how I might feel, and I can receive the same gift you gave to him—forgiveness.  Thank you Lord for forgiving me when I’ve sinned, thank you for accepting me no matter what, and thank you for always being there just like you stood on the shore for the disciples to see. I love you so much!  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Colossians, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

Job 38-39; Psalm 149

In his challenge to Job, the Lord’s abilities stir a cheer from my heart. As he lists what only he can do, I feel peace. I feel joy. I trust him.

31 “Can you direct the movement of the stars—
    binding the cluster of the Pleiades
    or loosening the cords of Orion?
32 Can you direct the constellations through the seasons
    or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?
33 Do you know the laws of the universe?
    Can you use them to regulate the earth? (Job 38:31-33, NLT)

I sit for this time and remember how he has orchestrated uncanny details in my life–a phone battery strong and unaffected after more than three hours of GPS (when its energy is generally sapped by a few podcasts and a Map My Run excursion); a captain’s bell buried deep underneath clematis vines; an encounter with a woman recovering from stroke, whose ability to speak was unhampered long enough for her to encourage me in a battle she was witnessing unfold that I was unaware of; a dear dog named Ruth who really and truly was an answer to my heart’s desire. I can go on and on.

I seek him and I find him. I trust him. I praise him.

Praise the Lord!

Sing to the Lord a new song.
    Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.

O Israel, rejoice in your Maker.
    O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King.
Praise his name with dancing,
    accompanied by tambourine and harp.
For the Lord delights in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them.
    Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds. (Psalm 149:2-5, NLT)

I am humbled by his accomplishments–the universal, the mundane.

Lord, every year as I pass through your Word, I learn more about you, and more about myself. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT)” Thank you, God, that you love me so much to provide guidance and instruction for my good and your glory. Your Word is light and truth and hope. “For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope. (Romans 15:4, NIV)” Thank you, God, for words that give hope and encouragement in times that require endurance. You are life-giving, strength and stamina. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1, NIV)” You spell it all out and present it for the taking, generously, freely, and it is a feast for my heart and soul.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 23-24; 2 John; Psalm 121

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever. (Psalm 121, NLT)

Father God, I hold your precious words in my hands today, infused with gratitude that I can know you and be in relationship with you. I read in history of all the believers who lived and died to make such things possible for me–they are my brothers and sisters. I think back on recent years, and with more intentional thought of this past year. If my memories were a photobook, you were there in all of it. You were with me on the morning runs. You were with me in the creative spaces. You were with me in the-middle-of-the-night worries to hear my prayers. You were there to carry my burdens; to comfort me; to help me stand up again. You are faithful and loving and truth. You help me to walk straight paths through difficulties, and you protect me from threats I don’t even know about.

You have given me new focus and great gifts of peace, joy, and love. You have given me security in your promises and faithfulness. I lift my eyes to you, Lord. Joyfully. Gratefully.

Courtney (66books365)

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John 20; Psalms 148

“Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.  She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved.  She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”  Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb.  They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  He stopped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in.  Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside.  He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.  Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed-for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.  Then they went home.” John 20:1-10 NLT

I wonder if  John outran Peter to the tomb because he couldn’t wait to see his beloved friend and savior.  And he couldn’t get to him fast enough. Did he have a deep knowing in his heart that Jesus was alive? Three days must have felt like forever to him. Sometimes the dead things in my life seem like they are never going to be restored. The process is longer than I was expecting. But, in the light of eternity it isn’t. God’s timing is always better than mine. Maybe John had faith that Jesus was alive as soon as he saw the linen wrappings.  So much so that he didn’t need to see to him to believe.

“You believe because you have seen me.  Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.  The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book.  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 20:20, 30&31 NLT

“Am I  trusting that God’s working things out? Even when I can’t see how?” (Lysa Terkeurst)

“Praise the Lord! Let every created thing give praise to the Lord, for he has issued his command, and they came into being.  He set then in place forever and ever.  His decree will never be revoked.  Let them all praise the name of the Lord.  For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven! He has made his people strong, honoring his faithful ones- the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the Lord!” Psalms 148 NLT

Dear Father, forgive me when I doubt.  Thank you that you always keep your promises.  Help me to slow down this season and remember my joy is found in you alone. I give you all the praise. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Zech. 5-7; John 7; Ps. 126

Psalm 126 (NIV)

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,

we were like those who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,

our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

3 The Lord has done great things for us,

and we are filled with joy.

 

4 Restore our fortunes, Lord,

like streams in the Negev.

5 Those who sow with tears

will reap with songs of joy.

6 Those who go out weeping,

carrying seed to sow,

will return with songs of joy,

carrying sheaves with them.

 

What a beautiful passage! This song was a long time coming. The exiles were finally returning from captivity and they were overjoyed at God’s deliverance.

But they weren’t always this joyful. In fact, while the psalm begins with rejoicing, the last half reminds us of what it took to get there: sorrow. There were tears and weeping. There was strife. There was pain.

But that suffering was not the end of their story! And it’s not the end of ours, either.

Though we walk through valleys, they are simply the way we must take to reach the mountain top. One day we will reach that victory. One day we will experience that deliverance. One day we will experience that joy.

In the midst of sorrow, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and fearful. But in this passage I’m reminded that God never ends a story in pain. He only uses the pain to bring greater healing, greater joy, and an exceedingly great reward.

Those who sow in tears WILL reap with songs of joy.

Those who go out weeping, WILL return with songs of joy.

It’s not an “if.”

It is a promise.

It is coming.

It’s on its way.

And all will see how Great God is when He delivers us from our sorrow and pain!

I once heard it said that the only thing harder than waiting on God is wishing you had.

Instead of focusing on the pain and suffering, I will choose to focus on the promise of deliverance and joy. I choose to live in hope. I choose to live in faith. Deliverance is coming. It may not look like I expect, or come when I expect, but it IS coming and it WILL be good.

Eventually, we will each receive the promise and be able to join in with the others who’ve gone before us in saying, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!”

 

Father, thank You for the incredible encouragement You offer through Your word. Thank You for Your promise that You will not leave things undone. Thank You for working good out of bad, and for trading tears for songs of joy. Help me to wait for Your deliverance so that some day soon I can stand and proclaim Your power in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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Filed under Old Testament, Psalms