Tag Archives: life

2Kings 6; 1Timothy 3; Daniel 10; Psalm 119:1-24

Our small group is studying on how we can take God at His Word. Amazing as we share our stories from the view of Believing, Feeling and Doing.  I have to admit, cannot believe that Job lived his life and did not blame God like this quote from one of Israel’s earlier kings.

 While he was still speaking with them, the king[d] came down to him and said, “This trouble is from the Lord! Why should I hope in the Lord any longer?”               – 2 Kings 6:33 NRSV

I love my small group as they are a living testimony to me of how I should live out my walk with God – they make the Word of God come alive to me because they have lived it.

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that,  if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.                 – 1 Timothy 3: 14-15  NRSV

God is doing something in my life.  He is calling me to have a stronger trust relationship with my wife, He has called me to repent as to the intensity of my love for Him – love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and He has asked me to allow Him to be part of my work.  He wants to give me discernment and words of wisdom and understanding as I interact with broken people.

In the third year of King Cyrus of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. The word was true, and it concerned a great conflict. He understood the word, having received understanding in the vision. – Daniel 10:1  NRSV

The basis of our scripture in my small group study is Psalm 119.  There are 51 descriptive words used by David to describe his feelings for God. This verse below fascinated me above the others – praising God when I learn how He wants me to live.  Summarizes the verses I mentioned today.

I will praise you with an upright heart,
    when I learn your righteous ordinances. – Psalm 119:7   NRSV

Lord, there is nothing that makes me feel more alive than having You involved in my life and calling me deeper and deeper into a relationship with You.  You are amazing – when I think I have my life all together You gentle show me how I am leading as opposed to being led.  You are so gracious and kind as You lovingly show me the errors of my way.  I love You so much – thank You!

evanlaar

 

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I Kings 7; Ephesians 4; Ezekiel 37; Psalm 87, 88

I sometimes think all things should work out for me, here and now; as if I should completely find rest and satisfaction on earth. Expectations of God, of others, of me, and impatiently waiting for it to happen, now. Entitlement – a word to describe the belief that one inherently deserves privileges or special treatment. And I have no qualm in declaring with other worshipers, “All my springs are in you,” (Psalm 87:7). Hint to God.

Reality often strikes the senses like plunging your dry, warm body into a frigid pool of black water – shocking, awakening, slicingly sharp. Each time, I go back to my knees. Regroup, re-read Scripture, PRAY…“O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You. Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry,” (Psalm 88:1, 2). Then more waiting…

When I forget that I have been redeemed, reborn, I feel like Israel who cried out to God, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” (Ezekiel 37:11) Yet, regardless of my culpability in getting lost, God reminds me of His unfailing love. He demonstrates His mighty mercy to Israel and by their example, to me. God took the prophet Ezekiel to a valley to see dry, bleached bones come together; sinews attach, and flesh cover as the bones came to life. He gives this same promise of restoration and revival to the drought within this earthly temple, this jar of clay, me. And even if these promises become sparks of light He shoots out of my fingertips to others, I will be glad. Like King David who dedicated his personal goods to the future sanctuary that his son Solomon, not David himself, would build; I take pleasure in being a conduit for translating concern for the things of God to my family and others in my little sphere of influence. I can make every word count, every effort all in, every passion submitted.

Ephesians 4:29, 31, 32 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” If my heart is turned to pleasing my heavenly Father and loving others, then the things of earth will pale in importance. How easy it is to trust God when my heart is set on obeying His commands. How satisfying it is to forget that I am and immerse myself in the “Great I AM.”

 

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Joshua 7; Psalm 137-138; Jeremiah 1; Matthew 15

How hard is it to understand the hand of God in my life?  How many times to I misunderstand the elements of my life and miss the message that He has for me?  Doubt is my enemy.  I do not take the time to examine my own life as the source of my struggles and instead, begin to wonder if the Lord has changed His mind or I have misread His directions.  I am no different than Joshua after his defeat at Ai.

Joshua said, “Ah, Lord God! Why have you brought this people across the Jordan at all, to hand us over to the Amorites so as to destroy us? Would that we had been content to settle beyond the Jordan! – Joshua 7:7 NRSV

I remember vividly the first time I heard Boney M sing By the Rivers of Babylon. I was sixteen, in Germany visiting my aunt and uncle, alone and missing my family.  My life up until that moment was used to singing songs to God in the middle of the night and crocodile tears were part of my nights ritual.  How many times I thought that God might have forgotten me.

By the rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.  Psalm 137:1 NRSV

This is why God’s Word is so powerful.  God’s call to Jeremiah became my call to intimacy with Him.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5 NRSV

The Canaanite woman’s expression of faith became my model of perseverance and of hope.

“Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” – Matthew 15:27 NRSV

Lord, I thank you for the power of Your Word in my life and for the hope that You give me in the midst of my own doubt as to Your presence in my life and to the purpose You have called me.  Without You my life would be lost.  Thank you for calling me every day to a new walk with You.  Thank you for Your grace that calls me and renews me each day to serve You.  May I offer to You today my life that You may use me to glorify Your name. Amen.

evanlaar

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Genesis 41; Mark 11; Job 7; Romans 11

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, right? What happens when we see mountains impossible to climb or when broken legs won’t carry us over the mountain? Our lives crescendo and crash through the years that God has given us to live. Have we met these ups and downs with stoicism and personal effort or have we sunk to our knees in humble, steadfast trust in God? Joseph, Job, and Christ instruct us when we are challenged by difficult circumstances in life.

Joseph’s life story records how circumstances take him from being the favored son with his multi-colored robe to nearly being murdered in a pit, from being the over-seer in Pharaoh’s house to being thrown in a dungeon for a crime he did not commit, and finally from being elevated to the second most powerful man in the king’s court to falling on the neck of his brothers, forgiving and washing them with his tears . In Genesis 41:16, we get a clue on how Joseph could rise time and time again. He told Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Joseph lived what he preached.

Still we question that God should be interested in the lives of ordinary men. Job 7:17-18, asked, “What is man, that You should exalt him, That You should set Your heart on him, That You should visit him every morning, And test him every moment?” Sometimes, if we are honest, we may wish that we were not the focus of God’s attention. We may join in Job’s query (7:21), “Why then do You not pardon my transgression, And take away my iniquity?” This intimate picture of Job communing with God alludes to God walking and talking with Adam in the Garden of Eden.  The changed relationship between God and man after the fall has man instinctively fearing God’s gaze. Desperate cries of, “How long?” explode from bodies wrecked with chronic pain, disabling disease, ongoing trauma, or depression, anxiety, and a host of other disorders that interfere with daily functioning. Do we plead as did Job that God would take His eyes off us, forgive us, and end the suffering? Job acknowledged that man can do nothing to save himself and that we depend on God to save us. Can we trust that God understands our physical, spiritual, and emotional vulnerability on this earth?

Unequivocally, the answer is YES! Christ’s saving work on the cross punctuated the truth of His words…words that affirm, comfort, and empower us: Mark 11:22, 24, “Have faith in God. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” The cursed, fruitless fig tree that withered from the roots up overnight was meant to be a teachable moment on faith, prayer, and belief. Jesus could just as easily have said to the fig tree, “Feed my followers,” similar to His miracle with feeding the five thousand. How amazing and satisfying it would have been to see the fig tree branches heavy laden with large, ripe, and delicious figs practically popping into the hands and pockets of His apostles.  Yet seeking to more than quiet the noise of their empty bellies, Christ adjured His followers to have faith in God the Father, who will answer when we pray with belief that God is for us. Christ tells us that this is so. What now should we believe?

Faith does move mountains; prayer is a powerful change agent; and belief in the salvation of Christ is how the tough will stay committed to seeing this earthly walk with God all the way through. Romans 11:33 declares, “Oh, the depth of the riches of both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” So when the going gets tough, the tough should really get down on their knees. “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever,” (Romans 11:36).

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

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

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Genesis 33; Mark 4; Esther 9,10; Romans 4

Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids.  He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all.  He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother. – Genesis 33:1-3 NRSV

Look at all that energy Jacob went through just to protect his immediate family.  Where did his trust in God go – where does my trust go when I am faced with such a reality as death?  Sad part is that I remember all too well when I let my devotions slip and my prayer life was pretty much at meal times.  How ready do you think I was when those distant troubles became my crises and sudden overwhelming problem.  Oh, did I ever rush out to God for help.  I heard that this is described as a foxhole kind of Christianity.

But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness.  Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the open towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, a holiday on which they send gifts of food to one another. – Esther 9:18-19 NRSV

Like I said, nothing really gets our attention like the reality of death.  So on their knees and fasting went thousand of people – what did God do? – He honoured their hope in Him and saved them.  So this celebration called Purim was instituted.  Why? Something else I do along with forgetting my devotions and prayers, I forget to celebrate God’s amazing miracles in my life.  Do I remember that when I pass from this life that I will be celebrating the happiest day in my life? Should that not encourage me and motivate me to spend more time with my Saviour, my hope, and to rejoice more than mourn?

Imagine how stoked I was to see Paul pull out Abraham’s life in Romans —

Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.”  He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already[b] as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.  No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,  being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.  Therefore his faith[c] “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” – Romans 4:18-22 NRSV

Lord, like Abraham I want to ground my faith on hope.  You are my God who will be and do what You promise to be and do.  

evanlaar

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Genesis 20; Matthew 19; Nehemiah 9; Acts 19

Abraham and Sarah devise a plan. They’ll call each other sibling instead of spouse. This led them to the unanticipated; the plan worked–sort of–until “sister Sarah” caught the eye of Abimelech.

Abraham introduced his wife, Sarah, by saying, “She is my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar sent for Sarah and had her brought to him at his palace. Genesis 20:2, NLT

God intervened.

But that night God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him, “You are a dead man, for that woman you have taken is already married!” Genesis 20:3, NLT

***

The disciples sit with Jesus and want to know the “what-ifs” of a situation. Because, what if there’s a sin committed, then what?

The rich man says he’s kept the laws, and whether this is a humble admission or a boast, he wants to know what else he can do to obtain eternal life.

21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Matthew 19:21-24, NLT

***

In Nehemiah, the people remember all the things that God has done. His patience. His provision. His deliverance. His mercy. His love. His grace. He is great. He is mighty. He is a truth speaker, promise maker and covenant keeper.

And the people remember their sins. Their pride. Their disobedience. Their idols. Their praises of God are sung alongside their wails of repentance. Oh, they want to make a promise they can keep too.

38 The people responded, “In view of all this, we are making a solemn promise and putting it in writing. On this sealed document are the names of our leaders and Levites and priests.” Nehemiah 9:38, NLT

Planning man who has it all figured out. Rich man holding onto his possessions and dreams. Slave man who returns to habits and history that kept him bound after he was set free. In these scriptures, God is right there with man, but man still wants to do things his way.

Oh, God, how we need you.

25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:25-26, NLT

Father God, help me to be mindful, always: I need you. Always.

Courtney (66books365)

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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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