Tag Archives: love

Exodus 1-3; Galatians 5

We come to two juxtaposed passages of Scripture this morning. We have Moses not acting out of love or having a close relationship with God and then the Apostle Paul giving us the fruit of a loving relationship with the God of the universe. Paul writes:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:22-24 [ESV])

God has a plan that reaches across the ages and we don’t fully understand it all, but what if Moses instead of being a person who tried in his own strength to free God’s people was a person of love and peace? Perhaps the Jewish Nation would have been relieved of their suffering 40 years earlier.

The fruit of the Spirit that Paul lists are not something we strive for, but what we bear because of our loving relationship with the Father.

What kind of fruit are you producing? Is this fruit coming from a loving relationship with God? Just think of the things God can do through you and the people you can affect  through the overflow of your relationship with the Father.

What does your fruit look like this morning? How can you grow closer to God so that you can produce more of it in changing your life and those around you?

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Genesis 32-34; Psalm 145; Mark 13

Imagine a young lady who is loved by a man and that same man rapes her.  Love in my family was just as dysfunctional but more so in another family of mine where the sister sexually abused her younger sister. To this day the emotional abuse continues. No wonder the Jacob’s family had other intentions for the rapist other than marriage.

Three days later the men who had been circumcised were still weak from pain. So Simeon and Levi,[h] two of Dinah’s brothers, attacked with their swords and killed every man in town,  including Hamor and Shechem. Then they took Dinah and left. – Genesis 34:25-26

Love is a strange word and I often wonder how I survived my dysfunctional past to have a rather healthy relationship with God. The Holy Spirit must have done some amazing work in my life transforming me and making me new because there is no reason for being the person I am except by grace and His power in my life.  I know one thing for sure, Jesus was the only person, when I was growing up, that I knew loved me and because He did, I loved Him right back.

You take care of everyone
who loves you,
    but you destroy the wicked. – Psalm 145:20

Every day that I follow the reading schedule found on the top of this blog, and every day that I am challenged to love my wife as Christ loved the Church, I understand this task is one that takes place every day.  Jesus loved us so much that He made sure to tell us how hard it will be when we face difficult times, even the end times.  I am challenged every day knowing that no matter if He comes suddenly, or destruction visits the door of my home, or I am tempted to go against Him in some part of my life, the only way I will hang on, the only way I can survive and sustain my walk with Him is to never waver in my love for Him, always bring Him into every area of my life and to walk with Him wherever I go.

But if he comes suddenly, don’t let him find you asleep.  I tell everyone just what I have told you. Be alert! – Mark 13:36-37

Thank you so much for loving me.  Your love reaches to the core of my heart, it is pure, life changing, and it sets me free to be me.  I can even forgive those who have hurt me or the family members that I love very much. Your love alone can change the world, and yet somehow the Church has lost its will to love You and by not loving You, they have lost the sense of Your love for them. Father, revive us, restore us and bring back to us our first love that You gave so freely to us on the day we gave our lives to following Jesus. Thank you.

Erwin (evanlaar)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Genesis 6-8; Psalm 104; Mark 3

As I think about my first 2018 post, I look back on 2017 knowing right from the very first month that God was going to take care of me and my family through a difficult year.  It was tough on quite a few different fronts.  Yet Jesus walked with me in each and every day.  Sometimes I think – why does it matter that I love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind? At the end of such a year and the reflecting on this new year, it matters a lot – I believe I am giving God a window to be a blessing in my life.

But the Lord was pleased with Noah,  and this is the story about him. Noah was the only person who lived right and obeyed God. – Genesis 6:8-9 CEV

As much as blessings are great, and they are – for they are visible expressions of God caring for me and others can see that I have His favour – promises are even better.  God’s promises are rock solid and every one of the them points to me the incredible and detailed expressions of just how much God cares. They are only visible when I am confident in them and people around me can see that they demonstrate in my life that God is a priority.

Now you have set boundaries,
    so that the water will never
    flood the earth again. – Psalm 104:9 CEV

I mean, would I forgive the people who hung me on a cross?  Can I forgive those in leadership over me that do not understand the abuse they had out every day?  What about family members who just want to hurt because they cannot get their own way?  Yes, 2017 had some bad memories and I know God wants me to forgive and many I have and will probably still forgive in 2018.

Jesus was angry as he looked around at the people. Yet he felt sorry for them because they were so stubborn. Then he told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did, and his bad hand was healed. – Mark 3:5 CEV

Yes, my love affair is with God.  It is His Holy Spirit that sustains me, heals me, cares for me, extends the power of His grace and peace to me and like a hen gathers me under His wings.  Wow – can I do that for those who have hurt me and who have been stubborn? Yes, because the promises of God that are true for me are true for them.  Looking forward to a great 2018 being more like Jesus.

Lord, I am yours.  Let me demonstrate You are my priority this year. I want to care as much as You do. Let people look at me and say I have my Father’s eyes. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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2 Chronicles 5-6:11; 1 John 4; Nahum 3; Luke 19

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. As we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:16-19 NLT

This passage brings to mind a book that I was given  years ago when I was letting fear grip my life. I flip through the pages and let the underlined words sink in… “My fear is really loneliness for God. Therefore I will claim His promise to never leave or forsake me. It’s in the secret place of our spirit that we need to receive profound love, the only lasting antidote to fear. And only God can love us as much as we need to be loved. Not just once, but daily, hour by hour, moment by moment” (Living Without Fear, Lloyd Ogilvie).

If I’m not on guard, I can let fear consume me even now…

Fear of what someone might think.
Fear of failure.
Fear of the future.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of not being enough.
Fear of lack.

The list could go on and on.  But, when I trust in God’s perfect love for me, I have no reason to fear. Because I know that he won’t let me down. God’s love is the only one that’s perfect. He pursues me, like he did Zacchaeus. And my heart is changed.

“Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there names Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Luke 19:1-5 NLT

I am thankful for a God who keeps his promises.

“Praise the Lord, God of Israel, who has kept the promise he made to my father, David. For he told my father, ‘From the day I brought my people out of the land of Egypt, I have never chosen a city among any of the tribes of Israel as the place where the Temple should be built to honor my name. Nor have I chosen a king to lead my people Israel…”And now the Lord has fulfilled the promise he made, for I have become king in my father’s place, and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the Lord promised. I have built this Temple to honor the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 6:4-10 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for loving me. I praise you for who you are. Help me to surrender my fears to you. Thank you for your faithfulness. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Chronicles 18; James 5; Jonah 2; Luke 7

David fought battles, amassed wealth, and dedicated it to the Lord. Victory.

James warns the rich, whose bounty rots and testifies against them. Luxury or waste?

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. (James 5:1-6, NLT)

I think long on legacy, on the generous hand versus the hand that withholds. The things stored up that moth and rust destroy. The excess that rots and corrodes. I’ve thought long on what remains.

A Christmas Carol  by Charles Dickens fast became a favorite story of mine last year when I read it with my kids. We later saw a live performance of it, where I nearly cried throughout the entire production, starting with the first words they spoke. And even last night, my youngest asked if I wanted to join her and watching it on television with her–and I did. Old Ebenezer was fortunate to be able to change the end of his story, but many aren’t.

Lord, I don’t want to waste my life by holding on too tightly to things. You are Provider.

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (James 17-18, NLT)

I pray that I don’t fear or hoard, but that I understand and act upon a wealth of time, talent, treasure, and dedicate it to you. That is victory. Not in what is saved and left behind to rot, but what is given and lives on.

“Those who cling to worthless idols
    turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” Jonah 2:8-9, (NLT)

I’ve had time to ponder and understand a bit better what it means to live life poured out, after a year of emotional and physical exhaustion.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:41-50, NLT)

To know the Savior and know his love, to know he provides and cares for me, I can live open handed and not worry for lack–he holds my days, he directs my path. There is freedom in this.

Father God, no matter the day, let my praise always rise to you in thanks–in every circumstance. Thank you that you’re near to hear my prayers. Thank you for your love and forgiveness, your guidance and provision. You call me daughter, and I am held.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 21&22; 1 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 1; Psalms 37

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about wicked schemes.” Psalms 37:7 NLT

I have a hard time being still. As I sit here now, my mind is scattered and I can’t help but think of all the tasks I need to complete. But, his words refresh me. They remind me of his constant care.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord hold them by the hand.” Psalms 37:23 NLT

His provision.

Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.” Psalms 37:25 NLT

His goodness.

Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path.” Psalms 37:34 NLT

Sometimes I lose sight of his faithfulness and I start to compare my life to others. Instead of reaching out to others, I can become discontent. Doesn’t Paul say, that is acting like the world?

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NLT

When I sit quietly in his presence, my hope is restored. I find myself living in gratitude for all he has done for me. His glory is revealed to me in ways that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

All around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day. This is what the glory of the Lord looked like to me. When I saw it, I fell face down on the ground, and I heard someone’s voice speaking to me.” Ezekiel 1:28 NLT

Dear Father, Strip my heart of anything that is not from you. Forgive me for when I look to lesser things to bring fulfillment. Everything I have comes from you. Help me to quiet my heart before you and rest in your presence. Amen.

The Lord rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble. The Lord helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in him.” Psalms 37:39&40 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Samuel 16; Romans 14; Lamentations 1; Psalm 32

Saul is rejected.

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.” (1 Samuel 16:1, NLT)

Paul admonishes believers.

10 So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. (Romans 14:10, NLT)

A nation mourns.

Jerusalem, once so full of people,
    is now deserted.
She who was once great among the nations
    now sits alone like a widow.
Once the queen of all the earth,
    she is now a slave.

She sobs through the night;
    tears stream down her cheeks.
Among all her lovers,
    there is no one left to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her
    and become her enemies. (Lamentations 1:1-2, NLT)

 

I read through Psalm 32 and find joy in a Father God who removes the burden of sin and guilt and forgives freely–what love!

For you are my hiding place;
    you protect me from trouble.
    You surround me with songs of victory. (Interlude)

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

10 Many sorrows come to the wicked,
    but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
11 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
    Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure! (Psalm 32:7-11 NLT)

Lord, you look to the heart. You desire repentance and a turning to you. I want to walk always in truth. Thank you that you will guide, advise, and watch over me (too!). My joy and gladness is in you!

Courtney (66books365)

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