Tag Archives: new life

2 Kings 17; Titus 3; Hosea 10; Psalm 129-131

For some reason, especially this year, I’ve been trying hard to be perfect. I know that trying my best and working hard aren’t bad. But more and more recently, whether it’s messing up on the piano or not getting something at dance class, I’ve found that I keep getting angry at myself when I make mistakes. And I’ve also been anxious before lessons, because I worry that the teacher isn’t going to think I’m good at the thing if I don’t get it right away.

It’s kind of the same thing with sin. I either try too hard (or don’t) to be good, and when I fail I’m annoyed with the results.

Samaria Falls to Assyria

Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire land, and for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. They were settled in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them safely out of Egypt and had rescued them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. (2 Kings 17:5-7 NLT)

I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’ (Hosea 10:12 NLT)

The people of Israel’s continuous sins against God caused Samaria to fall. God had warned them to stop, but they didn’t. Their actions led to their downfall.

This makes me think of all the times my actions have led to my downfall. For the people of Israel it was worshiping other gods; for me it’s what I say to others.

LORD, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O LORD, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you. (Psalm 130:3-4 NLT)

But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:4-5 NLT)

I know I don’t have to do good things to get into heaven. But while I’m here, I really want to grow closer to God and try to do what’s right!

Dear God,

Thank you for today’s reading. It really helped me to realize how much you don’t like it when I sin. And because of Jesus I can be forgiven for all that I’ve done. For now and in the future I hope to be at least a little bit better at watching what I say, since it’s my biggest downfall. I know I don’t have to be perfect at everything. So even though I will still work hard, please help me to at least watch what’s going on in my heart so I won’t think I’m better than others. Amen

Lanie (llilly2017)

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1 Kings 2; 1 Chronicles 29; Romans 7

Just take the next right step.  Do what needs to be done. Let go and let God. What if all I want to do is scream for what can never be, crawl back to bed and sleep for eternity, or sit and stare at the world as the hours circle the clock face?  The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:22, 23, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Shameful double mindedness.  On the other hand, an example of single mindedness is illustrated in I Kings 2. Solomon was instructed by his father David before the King’s death to exact punishment on several powerful men in the kingdom.  Young King Solomon recognized their conspiracies and dealt severely with these men, which brought peace to the kingdom through fulfillment of God’s judgment.  Are the instructions given to me any less important than those David left for Solomon? Has God given me a brain and the freedom to follow His instructions, or am I fated to watch what little I cling to drift away as dust gathering in the corners of an empty room?

The war within me to follow God’s will is no less violent and the outcome no less important to my sanity and legacy and soul’s security. As Paul cries out in Romans 7:24, 25, so do I. “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

If I had to choose to walk daily in all that I believe God would have me do – without seeing God’s new mercies every morning, without reading the love of Christ assured through His words, and without the supernatural and inexplicable work of the Holy Spirit – I could not.  Yet, how amazing is David’s prayer for God’s people. Man is weak, but God will place even the motivation to do His will when we pray.   David writes, “Keep this forever in the intent of the thoughts of the heart of Your people and fix their heart toward You. And give my son Solomon a loyal heart to keep Your commandments and Your testimonies and Your statutes, to do all these things…” I Chronicles 29:18

May God place His instructions in the intentions of my heart so that it is not I who lives, but Christ who dwells within me.  May He fix my heart toward His perfect will because only the wisdom from God – given supernaturally and operating independently of my earthly knowledge – will bring peace and fulfillment to me. Who am I to receive this attention? No one of consequence yet loved nevertheless, by our great God. So I will rise up and greet this day knowing that all good things come from God and I can give to Him the honor and praise for a day lived in His presence. What He gives to me I will return through my praise, service, and time. “For all these come from You, and of Your own we have given [back to] You,” I Chronicles 29:14.

What a great God we serve!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

From the archives. Originally published June 1, 2015.

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Exodus 16-18; Ephesians 4

Old Testament. While they wandered that desert for forty years, God provided for them. They were hungry and thirsty, and there was no doubt of it with all their complaining–God saw to it they were fed daily and given a gushing stream of water to quench their thirst. And with (Moses’s) hands held high, in faith, they won victory.

  • Some gathered a lot, some only a little. 18 But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Exodus 16:17b-18a, NLT.
  • Strike the rock, and water will come gushing out. Then the people will be able to drink.” So Moses struck the rock as he was told, and water gushed out as the elders looked on. Exodus 17:6b, NLT.
  • 11 As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Exodus 17:11, NLT.

My conviction: I don’t know why this winter has felt colder than the others. It must be my age. But God has provided–a functioning wood stove insert that blows out delightful heat, enough wood to get us through the season, even lap blankets unexpectedly gifted to me by a dear friend and my dad. I think I’ve spent too much time complaining.

Old Testament. Stepping out into freedom from slavery must not have been such an easy task–a pursuing army ready to recapture or kill, obstacles ahead that seemed unnavigable, even the lean days–the hard days–where daydreams of captivity and slavery seemed easier.

New Testament. Paul’s letter to Ephesians. He’s begging and imploring–don’t go back to slavery.

17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:17-24, NLT.

My conviction: The passages in Old Testament and New Testament speak to me on every issue I face today. While Exodus reminded me of God’s provision and my complaining, Ephesians is the shoulder-grab and about-face direction to remember who I am. Not a slave to who I was. Don’t look back. Throw it off.

Put on (your) new nature.

Lord, I need that thirst quenching gush of water pouring over me: your Spirit to renew my thoughts and attitudes. My victory and salvation are through you alone. You provide for my needs in so many ways. Thank you! Your word today, a gift and gentle, honest reminder to watch where my thoughts lead me. Help me to throw the negative thoughts far, far away.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30, NLT.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Psalm 36-37; Acts 23:1-11

I never imagined how this event would mark my life. When the Lord put it on our hearts to move, it was supposed to be a happy time. Wow, I don’t know how many times I’ve said that–it was supposed to be happy. What we took as a step of faith actually was the tipping block for a domino effect of loss, betrayal and wounding. It is three years later, and I often refer to life as before and after.

There’s a familiarity in psalm 37, verses that call out specifically and full of detail. When I read them, my heart responds.

23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand. Psalm 37:23-24, NLT

I feel his delight in every detail of my life: from the captain’s bell, a fence and trees for my kids to climb, berries along the perimeter of the yard, to the crazy-amazing scent of the field when I cut the grasses, the lush sound of wind through treetops, the woodland song of owls, crows, hawks.

photo collage ps 37

It is not lost on me that he would use a garden as a place for healing.

I’ve had to let go of a lot of things in these years, but God has filled me up with new things. New friendships, new experiences, new opportunities. I read these verses today with a grateful heart–grateful for a God who holds my hand, even when I stumble. And he will not let go.

Courtney (66books365)

Listening to Phillips, Craig and Dean Tell Your Heart to Beat Again.

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1Chronicles 16; James 3; Obadiah 1; Luke 5

Luke 5, New Living Translation:

  • 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.
  • 15 But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases.
  • 26 Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!”
  • 28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.

Jesus is doing all kinds of miracles in Luke 5. He takes what is routine and turns it upside down: Simon out fishing with disappointing results. Jesus tells him, go deep, and abundance flows. A leper, ashamed–an outcast–healed and made new with something to offer and praise on his lips, a story to tell. A paralyzed man, double blessed: forgiven, and to top it off, he jumps up and goes home.

I’ve been there, spiritually. Disappointed and empty handed for my efforts. A modern-day leper and outcast in a community. A life-season paralyzed by insecurity.

I’m thankful.

Thankful to see abundance in taking a chance on Jesus when he told us to go out deeper. Thankful that he made me new, for praise and thanksgiving that fall naturally out of my mouth–and a removal of shame that I can share my story. For friends who carried me to the Lord, always pointing to him–oh, I remember the day when the weight was lifted, and I could stand.

He does miracles still … today.

My Lord, my God. You are amazing.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ex.11,12:21; Luke 14; Job 29; I Cor. 15

I see death in every chapter. Death in Exodus to those without the mark of blood upon their doorway. Death to self in Luke for those who would be a disciple of Christ. Death in Job of everything he knew, his words a reminiscent and sorrowful, “I thought, surely …” And death itself in 1 Corinthians 15.

But there is also life: life for God’s chosen; life at the feast for the poor, crippled, blind and lame; new life beyond what we know now; and resurrection through Christ.

42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NLT.

I think hard on the cost of discipleship, of the things I hold onto, even to the excuses I might give to decline God’s call: am I so busy that I do not attend the banquet he has prepared? This feast woven through chapters: of passover, the parable of the banquet–do I hold onto the comfortable and the dear like Job (even to things past?), or do I reach out and forward to earth and soil–a yes to transformation?

God speaks into my life and says, “Go!” and what is my reply? Am I making excuses? Am I waiting for someone else to do it? Has the salt lost its flavor? Lord, I want to make the days count–to be marked by you and your grace. Help me to work enthusiastically for you.

Paul says: But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 1 Corinthians 15:10 NLT.

Lord, I don’t want my life to be marked by complacency. I don’t want to look back and see your invitation buried underneath a list of excuse. Help me to align my thoughts and my days to your will. (I know you will! I know you are!)

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 38; Mark 8; Job 4; Romans 8

So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made you free from the law that brings sin and death. The law was without power, because the law was made weak by our sinful selves. But God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son to earth with the same human life that others use for sin. By sending his Son to be an offering for sin, God used a human life to destroy sin. He did this so that we could be the kind of people the law correctly wants us to be. Now we do not live following our sinful selves, but we live following the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 (NCV)

One thing that has made an impression on me during this football season is witnessing bits and pieces of Ray Lewis’ faith. Whether you are a Raven’s fan or not, whether you are happy Ray is retiring or sad to see him go, he is a living example of God’s grace for all.

The success of the Ravens this season caused a bit of an uproar in my family’s house. Not because we are a family divided, but because of a hatred of the Baltimore team that is circulating within the social media and among fans of different teams.

Over the past few weeks, since the Ravens played through the post-season, since they won the Super Bowl, and especially since Ray Lewis announced his retirement, I have heard over and over the judgments of others. I am not talking about fans opinions about how games are played and won, but assessments of character and moral conduct based not in the present, but in the past.

We have all been in positions in our lives where we have fallen short of the glory of God. We have all sinned. We have all walk a less than perfect walk. And, we have all been offered a gift, called grace, in the form of a loving Savior who came to earth, who died for our sins, and who lives again forevermore.

Sometimes our circumstances put us in positions where we have to make choices: do we turn away from God or turn toward Him? Do we take things into our own hands or seek the mercy of a loving Father?

When we turn toward God and run into our Father’s arms, we choose a new life, to be reborn. We choose to live in freedom. We choose to live in the spirit and let Holy Spirit live in us. We choose a gift that is not deserved, but is freely given.

The moment we believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord our world changes and perspectives and paradigms shift. What we were accused of is absolved. The punishment sought out by others is paid by Christ on the cross. The enemy is defeated in our life and we are triumphant because of everlasting love.

But in all these things we are completely victorious through God who showed his love for us. Yes, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 (NCV)

I am so grateful that God has given me the opportunity to be free: from sin and from religious legalism. I am grateful that He lifted me out of my depravity. I am grateful that He redeemed me and called me His. I am grateful that God is for me, so that nothing can defeat me (Romans 8:31). I am grateful for the joy of my salvation. I am grateful that I will be judged in mercy.

 

Yesappa, I ask You to do the impossible in my life. Make me a woman after Your own heart. Help me run more and more after You. Fill me with Your love that I may be an outpouring of You into the world, another example of Your gift of grace. Be with me always and forever. 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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