Tag Archives: obedience

Genesis 35-37; Luke 11

“Then God said to Jacob, “Get ready and move to Bethel and settle there.  Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau.”  So Jacob told everyone in his household, “Get rid of all your pagan idols, purify yourselves, and put on clean clothing.  We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress.  He has been with me wherever I have gone.”  Genesis 35:1-3 NLT

Jacob’s family didn’t leave for Bethel until they threw away all of all their pagan idols.  I imagine Jacob telling them not to pack the idols and try to hide them.  What idols am I still holding onto? So many times I give them to God and take them back.  It hinders me from moving forward to what God has for me next.

Jacob knew that God would be with him, just like he was before. If only I could remember that more often.  I think that’s why it’s important to have “altars” in my life to remember all God has done. He was with me, even when I felt like he was far away.  He was working when I couldn’t see it.  It spurs on my faith for future unanswered prayers.

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10 NLT

I was talking to a friend’s daughter who is in the process of looking for a college.  She wants to go to the same art college that I went to.  As I was telling her about my experience there, I was remembering all of God’s goodness.  It wasn’t the first college I went to. I transferred there from a Christian college.  I was planning on commuting, but I needed transportation.  God provided a car.   As I stood in the art store on one of my first days there, I met a girl who was involved in a small Christian group on campus.  God was showing me that I wasn’t alone. That he was intimately involved in my life.  Reciting his faithfulness, gives me the hope that he is not finished with me yet.  His plans are still good.

Fast forward 25 years or so later.  And I am still asking Him what it looks like for this 43 year old mom of four to use her gifts. Trying to discipline myself to make it a priority.  Sometimes it means becoming an intern at my church so that I catch up on skills that are foreign to me.  And trusting God in the process. Remembering when I stepped out of my comfort zone before, gives me the courage to do it again.

Thank you Father for always meeting me where I am.  Forgive me for when I doubt.  I pray that my weaknesses would bring me closer to you.  And that my faith would flourish (my one word this year). Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Genesis 1-4; Luke 1

Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God.  It was he who sent me to bring you this good news!  But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born.  For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.” Luke 1:18-20 NLT

Zechariah’s response takes me back to a time in my life when I was having trouble having a baby.  After two miscarriages I went to doctor after doctor to find out what was wrong.  The wait seemed so long. Scientific answers  were found.  But, to this day, I wonder if it was God’s timing all along.  I couldn’t imagine life without the four children he has blessed us with.

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary.  She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.  Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.  “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!  You will conceive and give birth to a son, you will name him Jesus…Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” Luke 1:26-34 NLT

Mary was confused, but she responded in faith and not fear.  Will I be able to look back at this new year and remember all the times I did something afraid?  Will I be able to say that I was stretched out of my comfort zone, but trusted that God was with me? Recounting the mighty ways that he showed up in my life?

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good.  Then he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”  And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.” Genesis 1:1-5 NLT

This passage is so familiar that I can lose the wonder of it.  And the way he can be so interactly involved in my life, but so powerful at the same time.

Help me Lord, not to lose my awe of you.  Thank you for new beginnings and fresh starts.  A new year to see how you will work in my life.  I pray that I never lose sight of you.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Esther 7-10; Revelation 3

“On that same day King Xerxes gave the property of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther.  Then Mordecai was brought before the king, for Esther had told the king how they were related.  The king took off his signet ring-which he had taken back from Haman-and gave it to Mordecai.  And Esther appointed Mordecai to be in charge of Haman’s property.  Then Esther went again before the king, falling down at his feet and begging him with tears to stop the evil plot devised by Haman the Agagite against the Jews.  Again the king held out the gold scepter to Esther.  So she rose and stood before him.  Esther said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor with him, and if he thinks it is right, and if I am pleasing to him, let there be a decree that reverses the orders of Haman son of Agagite, who ordered that Jews throughout all the king’s provinces should be destroyed.  For how can I endure to see my people and my family slaughtered and destroyed?”  Esther 8:1-6 NLT

Esther had great faith.  She didn’t let fear control her.  She believed in God’s protection.

“Then Mordecai left the king’s presence, wearing the royal robe of blue and white, the great crown of gold, and an outer cloak of fine linen and purple.  And the people of Susa celebrated the new decree.  The joys were filled with joy and gladness and were honored everywhere.”…“And King Ahasuerus imposed tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea.  Now all the acts of his power and his might, and the account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.” Esther 8:15&16; 10:1-3 NLT

Even though Mordecai was convicted to die, he became the second highest ranking official in the nation.

“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.  I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.  All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of God, and they will never have to leave it.  And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God-the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God.  And I will also write on them my new name.  ”  Revelation 3: 10-12 NLT

When I hear about bad things happening in the world today, my first reaction is not always that God is in control.  It is often times, fear.  I question God, instead of trust him.  I try to figure things out on my own.  But, when I remember that my citizenship is in Heaven, I rest in God’s sovereignty.  And can view my own problems in the light of eternity.

Dear Father, Help me to trust you, even when I don’t understand.  Thank you that you can turn the darkest situations around for good.  I want to have a faith like Esther and Mordecai.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0wpP5o7xpI

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Ezra 3-4; Psalms 92; 1 John 1

“When the builders completed the foundation of the Lord’s Temple, the priests put on their robes and took their places to blow their trumpets.  And the Levites, descendants of Asaph, clashed their cymbals to praise the Lord, just as King David had prescribed.  With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord:  “He is good! His faithful love for Israel  endures forever!”  Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid.  But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seem the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation.  The others, however, were shouting for joy.  The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.”  Ezra 3:10-12 NLT

Restoration has been a theme in my life for the past few years.  I can understand the feeling of joy mixed with sorrow.  The grief over what was and the hope for what will be.

These verses encourage me to…

Press On (the rebuilding of the new temple didn’t start until 50 years after the old one was destroyed).

Expect opposition.  Satan is a very real enemy, who wants to take me down. (“The enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were rebuilding a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel…Than the local residents tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah to keep them from their work. ”Ezra 4:1&4 NLT)

Anticipate what God is doing.  Wait on him and be watchful. Listen to his voice.  Even when things don’t look like I thought they would, know that he can be trusted.

But the godly will flourish like palm tress and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!” Psalms 92:12-15 NLT

No one can stop the work that God has begun.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your faithfulness.  Thank you that you are working eveything for my good.  That you forgive my sins. For your promise to always be with me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

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Ezekiel 40-42; John 14

While Jesus was making his ultimate journey to the cross, he continued teaching those around him. His words were often confusing to them because they didn’t have an understanding of the scope of what Jesus was doing.

The passages in Ezekiel were measurements and meaning to the temple. In John, Jesus speaks, and I listen. I have a sweet luxury of the written word, and I can return to it often and sit at my Savior’s feet.

15 If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”

23 Jesus replied, All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

27 I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. 29 I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

30 “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, 31 but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going (John 14:15-31, NLT).

Jesus was fulfilling a requirement to show his love for the Father. And in these passages he takes time to explain to the disciples who he is, that he is making a way, that he is coming back–assurances and comfort. He tells them he’s not leaving them as orphans, but sending the Holy Spirit who will guide in truth. He leaves a gift, and it’s something only he can give, and we won’t find it in this world. This world won’t give the kind of peace that Jesus can. Jesus explains these things to the disciples while he is with them–and this is deeply meaningful to me: that he prepares them, comforts them, provides for them, assures them. There is so much love and care in this dialogue.

Lord Jesus, I’m grateful for the ability to read these words and read them often. You are the example I want to follow–your love, your wisdom, your obedience, your guidance, your provision. You show me how to be the kind of friend and parent who cares tenderly, lovingly, responsibly. This is relationship. This is treasure. Thank you, Lord. Thank you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 4-6; Psalms 82; John 2

“The place will be littered with corpses, and you will know that I alone am the Lord.  “But I will let a few of my people escape destruction, and they will be scattered among the nations of the world.  Then when they are exiled among the nations, they will remember me.  They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols.  Then at last they will hate themselves for all their detestable sins.  They will know that I alone am the Lord and that I was serious when I said I would bring this calamity on them.” Ezekiel 6:7-10 NLT

Sometimes the destruction is all I see.  But, when I look up to God I have hope.  He is merciful.  He can use my brokenness to teach me to run to him.

“Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” “What!” they exclaimed.  “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body.  After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.” John 2:17-22 NLT

Like the Jewish leaders, I don’t always understand what Jesus is doing.  It can be hard to see past my hurts.  The tearing down of my own life can be painful.  There are unhealthy habits that took a long time to build.  But, they don’t take long to tear down when I surrender to him.  He promises to rebuild and restore.  He breaths life into the dead areas in my life and makes them new. By His blood, I already have the victory.

“Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him.  But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people.  No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.” John 2:23&24 NLT

Jesus knew that some would still betray him, even after seeing the miracles he did.  They were caught up in the moment and their hearts  wavered.  Their trust didn’t run deep.  It was fleeting.

Dear Father, I desire to remain faithful to you.  Thank you for the promise to heal my broken heart and bind my wounds (Psalms 147:3).  Thank you for your faithfulness. I give you the Glory. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Jeremiah 22, 23, 26; Psalm 77; James 2

Your road led through the sea,
    your pathway through the mighty waters—
    a pathway no one knew was there! (Psalm 77:19, NLT)

The psalmist (Asaph) is troubled and feels alone, and his opening words in Psalm 77 seem to ring reaching, empty and unheard. He gets his bearings together, and starts to tell himself of all the good things God has done, and this verse stood out to me in relief (both raised from the other words and from encouragement too).

Your road led through the sea. It led through the mighty waters. It was a pathway no one knew of; they didn’t know it was there. Faced with a pursuing army/enemy behind them and an expansive sea ahead of them, why did they choose the water? Why didn’t they turn back and fight? That moment before the path was revealed must have been thick with pressure. It must have seemed lose-lose. Someone must have felt torn in wonder. I stand in the words of the moment and marvel at the road that leads through the sea, through mighty waters, the road that no one knew was yet there.

This verse is the verse foundation around the rest of the reading for me–of Jeremiah’s retelling of the Lord’s repetition: do the right thing.

This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! (Jeremiah 22:3a, NLT)

15 But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!
    Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink.
But he was just and right in all his dealings.
    That is why God blessed him.
16 He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
    and everything went well for him.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?”
    says the Lord. (Jeremiah 22:15-16, NLT)

And in James, the underscore of faith, and that without works, it is useless, dead.

18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? James 2:18-20, NLT.

Lord, I don’t need to continue to fight a past that wants me back into captivity when you have already secured my freedom and my future. Some situations seem lose-lose. Stressful. Threatening. Sometimes I’m not sure which way to turn. But I turn to you and I take to heart your words to do the next right thing. Help me to discern what is right, just, and wise. Help me to see your path before me, and to walk in it.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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