Tag Archives: obedience

Genesis 17; Matthew 16; Nehemiah 6; Acts 16

I am part of an online goal setting group, and many of the members shared their vision boards for 2020. I’ve never made a vision board, but gave it a try. I laughed to myself when I finished, realizing I had experienced most of those things in 2019. Some things that happened last year were not even thoughts at the year’s start–but I had margin, not so tightly focused on my own goals exclusive to opportunity. And God did life-giving things in my life. Not everything felt easy, beautiful or lovely, but even then, he kept drawing my attention back to a Kingdom focus.

In Genesis, God gives Abraham a Kingdom focus.

“This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!

“I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:4-8, NLT)

And this:

15 Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah. 16 And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.”

17 Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?” 18 So Abraham said to God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!” (Genesis 17:15-18, NLT)

I notice Abraham laughed in disbelief. He can’t imagine God will do what he says he’ll do. So Abraham interjects with what he knows, what he sees, what is real in front of him: Ishmael. Kingdom focus clashes with a limited view/belief. 19 But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant.” (Genesis 17:19, NLT)

God requires Abraham’s obedience.

I see Kingdom focus and obedience throughout the reading: when Jesus predicts his death and warns of the yeast of the Pharisees; Peter acknowledges Jesus as Son and yet reprimands Jesus for a fate Peter doesn’t want to happen (Kingdom focus clashes with own desire); threats to hinder a wall’s completion and a Kingdom focus to persevere–They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination (Nehemiah 6:9, NLT); Paul’s travels blocked and redirected by the Holy Spirit, and even though he is imprisoned, he is still fruitful in sharing the Gospel.

Opposition (Nehemiah), a death sentence (Matthew), imprisonment (Acts), fathering a child in old age (Genesis) were probably not items these men would have put on their vision boards, but God gives them a Kingdom vision and the means to accomplish their tasks, even in opposition, death, imprisonment, and old age.

13 They were hoping to intimidate me and make me sin. Then they would be able to accuse and discredit me. 14 Remember, O my God, all the evil things that Tobiah and Sanballat have done. And remember Noadiah the prophet and all the prophets like her who have tried to intimidate me. 15 So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. 16 When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God. (Nehemiah 6:13-16, NLT)

Father God, help me to press on, to leave margin for your plans and purpose in my life. Thank you already for equipping me and encouraging to keep a Kingdom focus, even in difficulties, especially in difficulties. Oh that anyone would see your hand and blessing upon my life and realize (this work) had been done with the help of God.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 8; Matthew 8; Ezra 8; Acts 8

We find that after the martyrdom of Stephen the gospel spread throughout the region like wildfire. There is a phrase that has often been quoted throughout church history and it goes like this, “The church advances on the blood of her martyrs.” In fact we find a connection between Samaria — where Philip is — and Ethiopian. The Spirit of the Lord carries Philip away to a deserted road where an Ethiopian eunuch is reading from Isaiah.

26 An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip: “Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”  27 So he got up and went. There was an Ethiopian man, a eunuch and high official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to worship in Jerusalem 28 and was sitting in his chariot on his way home, reading the prophet Isaiah aloud. (Acts 8:26-28 [CSB])

On that desert road this eunuch became a follower of Jesus. Some scholars say that this event was the beginning of the church in Ethiopia that goes strong till today. One act of obedience on Philip’s part and a conversation with an isolated government official and for two millennial there has been a church in Ethiopia.

What/who is God calling you to speak to today. The funny thing about His Kingdom work is that it never is empty of results. Who knows perhaps that conversation you have today or this week could have eternal benefits for millions of people for all eternity.

Father God, help us to keep our wits about us and to look for the opportunities you give us to share the good news of Jesus with those You put in our path. We look forward to what eternal results come from these encounters. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

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Psalms 117; Psalms 125

“Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion; they will not be defeated but will endure forever.  Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever.  The wicked will not rule the land of the godly, for then the godly might be tempted to do wrong.  O Lord, do good to those who are good, whose hearts are in tune with you.  But banish those who turn to crooked ways, O Lord.  Take them away with those who do evil.  May Israel have peace!” Psalms 125 NLT

Where is my trust? Trust has been hard for me this year. It seems like God is building into it, in situations I can’t control. It has made me question if I am operating out of fear or faith.  There have been times when I have been battle weary and tempted to lose hope. But, in simple obedience I have seen the Holy Spirit move in miraculous ways.  He has given me strength that I didn’t know I had. And has used me in spite of my weakness.  When I look for how He  is working, it takes the focus off of me and puts it back on Him.

“Praise the Lord, all you nations.  Praise him, all you people of the earth.  For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.  Praise the Lord!” Psalms 117 NLT

When I reflect on His goodness, I see beyond the struggle to the things that matter…Bravery. Vulnerability. Old patterns being torn down. Child like faith. Purpose. Persistence. Hope restored.

Dear Father, I praise you for who you are.  I want my heart to be in tune with you.  I want to live expectant in the new year.  Amen.

Amy(amyctannner)

 

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Job 19-22; 1 John 5

1 John 5:1-5 (NIV)

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

This chapter challenges me in so many ways. As I read through it, so many questions fill my heart and my mind.

Am I loving God’s children? It’s so easy to become frustrated and irritated with fellow believers due to various wrong expectations and selfish motives. Here I must ask myself, am I showing my brothers and sisters in Christ love through patience, kindness, and prayer? Am I showing that I love them in the way that I speak of them and with them?

Am I loving God? The evidence of my love for God is in my obedience. Am I choosing to do the right thing at the right time regardless of how I feel? Am I making my relationship with God a priority through prayer and study? Am I interacting with others in a way that glorifies God? Am I sharing His good news with those around me? Am I walking in integrity, honesty, and proving myself to be His child in what I say and do?

Are God’s commands burdensome to me? Or do I recognize the benefit of obedience and find joy in serving Him even when I find it challenging? Do I complain when I must love others? Do I get angry and resentful when God asks me to serve? Am I hiding from sharing Him with others because I’m afraid of what they will think of me?

 Am I overcoming the world, or is the world overcoming me? Have I let myself become fixated on myself and the world around me? Or has my relationship with God empowered me to walk in victory over my own sinful desires and the temptations of the world around me? Am I walking by faith or by sight?

Far too often I catch myself walking by sight, burdened by the things God asks of me, fearful of the cost of obedience, and as a result, failing in love towards others and, ultimately, God.

I especially find myself struggling during the holiday season. There’s so much going on, so much to do, so many obligations and demands on my time and attention, that I often catch myself trying to live on “cruise control” when it comes to my relationship with God. But when I fail to make my relationship with God a daily priority, everything else in my life begins to breakdown. His commands become burdensome, people become obstacles, and I find myself overcome by fear, insecurity, and the circumstances of the moment.

I know that if I want to walk in victory, I must be deliberate in my love toward God. As I make spending time with Him a priority, everything else begins to fall into place. People become opportunities. Things that were cause for fear are now material for hope. Irritating circumstances become a launching pad for prayer and dependence on God’s grace. And my life becomes much more victorious, not just in the big moments, but in the everyday moments that fill my day.

Father, forgive me for letting the world around me overcome me and overshadow my relationship with You. Forgive me for walking by sight instead of faith, fear instead of love, and obligation instead of relationship. I choose to make You my priority. Renew my love and passion for You, and let it overflow into my relationships and into my perspective of the world around me and the circumstances you place in front me. Help me to honor you by walking by faith in every moment, choosing love over annoyance, peace over fear, and joy over anxiety. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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Esther 1-3; John 11; Psalms 150

A man named Lazarus was sick.  He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha.  This is the Mary who poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair.  Her brother, Lazarus, was sick.  So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”  But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death.  No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed were he was for the next two days.  Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”  John 11:1-7 NLT

I sat across from my once joyful daughter who looked like something had died inside her.  I was overtaken with the grief of the moment.  How come you haven’t healed her yet Lord?

“When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.  “Where have you put him?” he asked them.  Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entranceRoll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.  But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days.  The smell will be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” John 11:33-40 NLT

God has been speaking to me through Lazarus.  It’s such a familiar story to me, that I’ve overlooked important things about it.  I never realized the reason that God waited to raise Lazarus was so that he would get the glory.  I also never realized that He got angry over their lack of faith.

This is one of those readings that has been showing up everywhere else.   In a sermon, a blog, a counselor, this post.  I find myself processing and praying about how God wants to use this in my life. I know he wants to spur my faith. A friend reminds me that maybe what God wants to do is much more incredible than my mind can comprehend. That he wants me to see things from a different perspective. When I can’t see what he is doing now, to have the faith to trust him.  It will be no mistake who did it and He will get the glory.

“Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!” Psalms 150 NLT

Dear Father, thank you that you resurrect old dreams, broken people.  You give me new life again.  You breath hope into the circumstances that seem dead to me. I am grateful for the cross.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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Daniel 10-12; John 3; Psalm 123

This is for times of mourning or when the Lord feels far.

When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks. All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed. (Daniel 10:2-3, NLT)

This is for when I am waiting for His help and direction.

11 And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.

12 Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. 14 Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.” (Daniel 10:11-14, NLT)

This is for when I can’t breathe, can’t move. Remember, you are very precious.

“I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. 17 How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.”

18 Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. 19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” (Daniel 10:16b-19, NLT)

He later says, “Meanwhile, I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth.” And there is war, deception, tragedy, loss, suffering and hardship. There are big political movements like crashing waves.

But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him.

33 “Wise leaders will give instruction to many, but these teachers will die by fire and sword, or they will be jailed and robbed. 34 During these persecutions, little help will arrive, and many who join them will not be sincere. 35 And some of the wise will fall victim to persecution. In this way, they will be refined and cleansed and made pure until the time of the end, for the appointed time is still to come. (Daniel 11:32b-35, NLT)

Be strong. The Lord has heard your prayers. He moves in ways that may seem silent. There are losses and lies and insincerity and corruption and persecution. But the people who know their God will be strong. (A whole history of people who’ve known their God, my God, have stood and fallen–and were refined and cleansed and made pure.)

I heard what he said, but I did not understand what he meant. So I asked, “How will all this finally end, my lord?”

But he said, “Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means … 13 “As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you.” (Daniel 12:8-10, 13, NLT)

The wicked will continue in their wickedness. But as for you, go your own way until the end.

Lord, I move in closer to you, thankful for your Word and the history of people who knew you and followed you, whose lives and sacrifices made your Word available to my hands and heart, whose testimony proclaims your sovereignty and glory. Thank you for hearing prayers and answering them. Thank you for seeing me as loved and precious.

Courtney (66books365)

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Daniel 5-6; John 1; Psalms 130

“From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call to you for help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer. I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word.” Psalms 130:1&5 NLT

I have been in a hard season where I can get weary praying. I wonder if my prayers are making a difference. But, God honors obedience.  I want to have a faith like David and Daniel and pray from what I know about God, instead of how I am feeling.

“But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem.  He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.  Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help.  “Then they told the king, “That man Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is ignoring  you and your law.  He still prays to his God three times a day. Hearing this, the king was deeply troubled, and he tried to think of a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament. So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions.  The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” Daniel 6:10-16 NLT

Daniel went against the culture and stood up for what he believed. He earned the King’s favor, but still ended up in the lions den.

“Then King Darius sent this message to the people…”I decree that everyone throughout the kingdom should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.  For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:25-27 NLT

What situations do I find myself in that feel like I will never find a way out? Am I trusting God to deliver me and my family, like he has before? Would the king say of me, “The God of Amy, like he said for Daniel? (Vs.25). As I think on these verses I am reminded of the depth of God’s love for me. He is with me. And I have no reason to fear.

Dear Father, Give me the courage to obey, even when I don’t understand. Help me to remember that your ways and plans are higher than mine. Thank you for the encouragement and promises from your word. I am holding  tight to them. Amen.

 “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:4&5 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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