Tag Archives: joy

Leviticus 23; Psalm 30; Ecclesiastes 6; 2 Timothy 2

Holidays interrupt the ordinary activities of my life and give me an opportunity to revitalize my commitment to God or holidays can draw my spirit into contemplating my recurrent need to depend on God. Such interruptions can lead to restoration and hope of blessings. Leviticus 23 lists the times of many God-ordained holidays, reminders of God’s deliverance, provision, forgiveness, and mercy. His presence is the gift in the midst of community, and the same is true during Christian holidays. I didn’t know how much I missed community until this past Easter. I have felt like a nomad these last 10 years, moving from state to state, changing jobs, changing churches, leaving the bones of loved ones in strange lands.

Ecclesiastes 6:2, written by my soulmate, Solomon, says, “A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it…this is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.” Solomon contrasts this scenario with his earlier statement that every man to whom God prospers and gives the divine gift of enjoyment receives blessings, indeed. Holidays have a way of slowing down my soul’s race to acquire the object and turning my eyes toward the Giver of my soul’s redeemed desires.

Interruptions in my work week can illuminate the threads of discontent or the tears in the fabricated beliefs I’ve entertained. The simplicity of following Christ needs no interpretation – if I am faithless, Christ remains faithful; he cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). I am therefore unafraid of the future, and I am free to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.”

So Lord Jesus Christ, resurrected Savior and lover of my soul, I am pleased to be interrupted with holy days that urge me to focus on You. Like King David, I can praise (Psalm 30:11, 12).

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my        sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise            to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

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Leviticus 20; Psalm 25; Ecclesiastes 3; 1Timothy 5

“I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. 

God has done this so that all should stand in awe before him.” Ecclesiastes 3:14

Of all days on the Christian calendar, this is the day to let our jaws drop and stand in awe of the mighty work of God on our behalf. It was from His holiness that the supernatural power of His love overcame broke the chains that sin and death held us prisoner. “Up from the grave he arose,” says the old hymn. The Resurrection changes everything.

I need Easter to remind me of the fundamental truth of my life. All that I am is fundamentally tied to the Resurrection. It is the air I breathe. Without it, I am a vapor that is here one moment, gone the next. With it, I have the joy of knowing that whatever comes my way in this life, I belong to Jesus. I am his and he is mine. His work for me is complete, while his work in me continues

“Consecrate yourselves therefor and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statues and observe them since I am the Lord, I sanctify you.”  Leviticus 20:7-8

Lord, from your beauty and holiness, you call me to follow you. You are the Spring rain that falls;  you have cleansed and forgiven me of my sin. You are the coolness that revives what is weary and broken. You bring the freshness of a new day dawning. Your Resurrection bursts through the sorrow, pain and isolation of Good Friday to birth light and life and the song of Easter. Praise you Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Your love endures forever.  Amen

klueh

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Filed under Ecclesiastes, Leviticus, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

Leviticus 17; Psalms 20,21; Proverbs 31; 1 Timothy 2

In this day, everything seems public. Social media and reality TV have made the private things famous. But as I read about the virtuous and capable wife in Proverbs 31, I know there was no TV crew following her around, spying on and magnifying her every move. The things that were done in this woman’s life were largely done in private, not in front of an audience. She’s always seemed larger than life to me when I’ve read about her in the past, but as I began to study her and her character, she is not a superstar. She is a servant at heart.

There are no adoring fans around her while she’s spinning her wool.

She’s not in it for public approval for stocking her pantry or getting up before dawn to plan out a day.

She’s savvy, crafty, generous–and true to how she’s wired, making the most of her time, talent and treasure.

And her fashion? Yeah, she’s got dresses of fine linen and purple; but she’s also clothed in strength and dignity.

A friend invited me into a 31-day character study of Proverbs 31, a book called Famous in Heaven and at Home by Michelle Myers (not compensated to mention this book). It took my attention off all the to-do’s and revealed the heart behind it–one of kindness and love.

My days can feel overwhelming if I look at all the items to check off on my list. But if I consider the why behind the what, the burden lifts and there is joy and contentment. Why am I doing the things I do? To love my family and friends. To honor God.

Lord, always help me to keep a right perspective when approaching my tasks. Then I will see the hidden treasure. Help me to be true to who you’ve made me to be–not seeking approval of man, but finding freedom and joy and abundance in living my life for you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Exodus 39; John 18; Proverbs 15; Philippians 2

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.” Proverbs 15:33 NLT

Just when I think that I’m being humble, God shows me the humility of Jesus. And I realize that I have so far to go. My selfishness creeps in and my humility turns to pride. I start to think about all the things I have to give up, instead of everything I don’t deserve. My pride keeps me from loving people like Jesus did. I am thankful that he is still refining me in this area. Without him, where would I be?

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.” Philippians 2:14-16 NLT

My 9 yr old son was telling me that a friend at school tells him all the tings that she is better at.   I told him that his friend was trying to make him look bad, so that she looks better. These lessons are usually for myself too. I can hear God prodding on my heart saying, “Where is your security?” Is it in myself or Jesus? My pastor spoke about encouragement. When my focus is on myself, it is hard to encourage others. How quickly I can get discouraged. But, when I am in his word and prayer, he fills me up. And gives me the power to speak life into someone else.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on the cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and earth and under the earth. And every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.” Philippians 2:1-11 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice. Dying on the cross for my sins. Forgive me for when I forget how much you have done in my life. I can lose sight of that so easily. I feel small compared to your vastness, but thank you that you care about the smallest details of my life. I pray that I would remember your goodness. That everything I have comes from you. And apart from you, I can do nothing. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Exodus 12:22-51; Luke 15; Job 30; 1 Corinthians 16

Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down. – Exodus 12:22-23 NRSV

The blood on the frame of the door must have made a powerful statement in my life from a young boy.  To this day, the “blood covering” is part of my prayer life.  I travel quite a bit, and whenever I enter a hotel room, I touch all the walls, floor and jump to the ceiling and I am covering my room with the “blood” because I have no idea what spirit could have been left there from the previous guests.  It may be extreme. It reminds me to this day that in reality it was representing the sacrifice Jesus made as the Lamb of God.  He was my passover and it was His death that gave me life.

‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ – Luke 15:6 NRSV

I am so glad Jesus loves me with an unconditional love. I would be in ruin today if that were not so.  I still cannot get over that He rejoices in finding me.  My parents never joy’d in me when I did something wrong – I still grew up in an era of spanking and my parents gave liberally in such deliveries.

“And now they mock me in song; I am a byword to them.” – Job 30:9 NRSV

I think I spoke too soon – God does take a moment of two to make sure I stay humble.  This is not the only time in the Bible that He used this method to bring back a lost soul and to teach them humility (Lamentations 3:14). But He always brings me back with love – that is what matters most.

Let all that you do be done in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:14 NRSV

There are many of us who serve Christ in places of danger.  Others who find themselves in leadership in the Church where they are entrusted with the spiritual lives.  I find myself praying like this — Lord, may I find myself willing to love as much as You do, judge very little, joy in lives that were lost and are now found, stay humble and be a servant for You and most of all, may I never forget what You did for me.  May I have as much grace to give as I have received. Thank you.

evanlaar

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Genesis 23; Matthew 22; Nehemiah; Acts 22

Last week, I watched a drama about the young Queen Victoria. She was being  courted by Prince Albert and had invited him to come visit her at Windsor Castle. When he arrived, a special suit prepared for him was delivered to his room, compliments of the Queen. The gift of the magnificent suit was a great honor; it was the dress of the House of Windsor and to be worn at the formal dinner and party. To wear the suit was to be welcomed into the Queen’s home and family.

That got me thinking about today’s parable:

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.  Again he sent other slaves, saying ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’  But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’  Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 

But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’  And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.  Matthew 22:2-14

Thanks to BBC, I have a deeper understanding of what Jesus has offered me: new clothing for his kingdom’s party. Why haven’t I marveled more at the wonder of what he has presented me? He offers to clothe me with his perfect righteousness. Why haven’t I allowed myself to bask in the luxuriousness and grandeur of this gift I have done nothing to deserve and perhaps taken a spin or two to rejoice in the splendor of it all?  When have I declined his gift and stubbornly clung to my old rags before him and insisted that I was “good enough?”  Why don’t I let my heart swell up inside of me and burst out in song at the beauty of it all?

The remnant of Israel understood godly joy when God called them back to Jerusalem and they rebuilt the wall. Their joy seemed to know no bounds:

They offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away. Nehemiah 9:43

Lord, I know myself in this: I hold back both emotionally and physically in responding to the goodness of what you have done for me. You welcome me into your kingdom and dress me with your righteousness at the cost of your son, Jesus who died for me, and yet I hold back in thanking you and singing your praises. Help me respond to your love with great joy and singing today. Amen

Kathy

 

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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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