Tag Archives: promises

1 Chronicles 7, 8; Hebrews 11; Amos 5; Luke 1:1-38

Two chapters chronicling fathers and sons (and some daughters). Some names carried a distinction of accomplishment, and other names just that–full lives lived and breathed, a lifetime reduced to the very essence of a name.

Hebrews and a faith legacy. I slow here–familiar names and stories. Abel, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses. The many others, unnamed:

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Hebrews 11:35b-40, NLT.

Unnamed, but remembered–not by glitz or glamor, but by grit, perseverance, sacrifice and faith.

Considering the Advent season, and holding tight to word and promise.

37 For no word from God will ever fail. Hebrews 11:37, NLT.

Hope. Promise. Truth.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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2 Kings 22; Hebrews 4; Joel 1; Psalms 140, 141

Grief. Repentance. Punishment. Oppression. Justice. Persecution. Calamity. Destruction.

15 The day of the Lord is near,
    the day when destruction comes from the Almighty.
    How terrible that day will be! Joel 1:15, NLT

Where enemies are plotting, evil, wicked, vipers.

O Lord, rescue me from evil people.
    Protect me from those who are violent,
those who plot evil in their hearts
    and stir up trouble all day long.
Their tongues sting like a snake;
    the venom of a viper drips from their lips. Psalm 140:1-3, NLT

And choices are made to obey or not.

He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right. 2 Kings 22:2, NLT.

It’s all there in the scriptures.

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:13, NLT

And in it too, refining fire.

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12, NLT.

Let the godly strike me!
    It will be a kindness!
If they correct me, it is soothing medicine.
    Don’t let me refuse it. Psalm 141:5, NLT

 

Rest.

So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts.”

Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall. Hebrews 4:6-11, NLT.

We just returned from a weekend wedding in Massachusetts. For a sweet, short time, I played with my kids, ventured down water slides, walked through the woods, celebrated life and love, feasted. When I returned home, all the things I have still to do were waiting. But something in me was changed, when I needed it most.

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT.

Lord, didn’t I meet you on the mountains? Every flaming autumn leaf, the carpet of pine needles, the way the wind rippled the waters and lifted my hair in playful dance. Didn’t you touch my heart in the aisle, as I sat by my husband and witnessed marriage vows, you spoke to me of your covenant love. You are my rest and my peace. You restore me. You comfort me. You encourage me. You soothe me. You are provider, protector. You are gracious and merciful. Thank you for respite and a reminder that I can access your peace any day, anywhere–not just in the Massachusetts wilderness, but here at home: by the computer, in the tasks, fixing meals, drinking coffee–I fix my focus. I am yours. You walk with me, and I am not alone.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 16; Acts 20; Jeremiah 29; Mark 15

Looking at examples in the Bible, I think God is trying to say that it’s okay to go through pain – only He wants to walk through it with us.

Samson is a fine example.  Even though he had failed, God did not leave him.

Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. – Judges 16:30 NRSV

For Paul pain was a way of life and he prophesied the same to us. Only way through it and its the staple of my walk with Jesus is to place my hope in God, counting on His grace as my foundation and my fountain of joy.

 Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God[d]that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.[e]  I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.  Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. – Acts 20:28-30

That is why I struggle with this promise that I still quote from time to time —

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.  When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart,  I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes – Jeremiah 29:11-14

I struggle with it not because it is not true, but because if it is taken out of context it misses the fact that there was 70 years of pain before this promise was realized.

So Jesus’s life has to be the accumulation of all my thoughts.  The cross and Skull Hill represented death, mockery and pain but for me I found there a place of redemption, forgiveness and hope because of Jesus.  What begins in horror and inhumanity, ends in victory and grace.

 Then they brought Jesus[d] to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).  And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.  And they crucified him – Mark 15:22-24

Lord, thank you for your promises, they are true, every last one of them.  While I  journey with You and we might be joined by hurt, may I take comfort that You and others that You have called have already gone before me.  

evanlaar

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Deuteronomy 27-28:19; Psalm 119:1-24; Isaiah 54; Matthew 2

I read about his promises, his provision, his protection.

When you cross the Jordan River and enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster. Write this whole body of instruction on them when you cross the river to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you—a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. (Deuteronomy 27:2-3, NLT)

He shows the way. It is a path made by love, loving guidance and instruction.

Joyful are people of integrity,
    who follow the instructions of the Lord.
Joyful are those who obey his laws
    and search for him with all their hearts.
They do not compromise with evil,
    and they walk only in his paths.
You have charged us
    to keep your commandments carefully.
Oh, that my actions would consistently
    reflect your decrees!
Then I will not be ashamed
    when I compare my life with your commands.
As I learn your righteous regulations,
    I will thank you by living as I should!
I will obey your decrees.
    Please don’t give up on me! (Psalm 119:1-8, NLT)

 

His word is truth.

14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 15 and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”

17 Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A cry was heard in Ramah—
    weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,
    refusing to be comforted,
    for they are dead.”

23 So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:14-15, 17-18, 23, NLT)

Lord, you are the Father who delights in me. You comfort me in my distress. You strengthen me in my weakness. You make a path straight for me, so I can walk in joy. You protect me. You provide for me. Your promises are trustworthy. You are trustworthy. Your love never fails. By your love, you show me how to love. By your love, you show me how to live. Thank you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 13,14; Psalm 99-101; Isaiah 41; Revelation 11

“But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you.  I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. 10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)

God has made so many promises to us through His Word. Sometimes it is difficult to know if they are promises specifically to the Israelites or if they are promises for all of us.  This promise in Isaiah is one we can all cling to, and I have, on many occasions.  At first, it would appear to be directed at the Israelites with reference to Israel and Jacob, but “you descendants of Abraham my friend” is referring to the believers in Christ as well.  Galatians 3:29 addresses this:  “And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” (NLT)  This is a promise for all of us.

I love that God calls Abraham his friend.  A true friend is someone you confide in, laugh with, and enjoy their company.  You feel safe with them, bare your soul, and share your life.  You spend time together and a deep affection for one another. This is the kind of relationship God wants to have with us.

Jesus calls himself our friend. In John 15:13 he tells us “greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” He revealed to us everything he learned from the Father.  He did not keep secrets from us.  He willingly sacrificed his life on our behalf.

How comforting it is to take his promise to heart!  God is with us ALWAYS.  He strengthens us, He helps us, and He upholds us!  No matter what we are going through, He is part of it.  We never have to face anything alone.  He never rejects us or abandons us.  He has given us His Word!  Therefore:

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!  2Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy. 3Acknowledge that the Lord is God!  He made us, and we are his.[a] We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. (NLT)

He is faithful, his promises are true, and his word is trustworthy—he deserves our praise.  Why is praising God so difficult for us?  We don’t seem to have a problem praising athletes or celebrities.  Their feats are nothing compared to those of our LORD. When I praise Him, I find I have taken the focus off of ME and put it on HIM where it belongs.  My burdens seem lighter—even though I may have tears streaming down my face as I lift my hands or fall to my knees.  His presence is more keenly felt.  I know I can talk about anything, I can complain, grapple issues, and share my joys.  Praise puts God in His Kingdom.  There have been times when I’ve felt so immersed in praise that it was almost as if I were standing before His throne—just me and Him.  I don’t understand why I don’t praise more often.

Father, when life is going good it is easy to praise you. But I want to be able to praise you no matter what is happening.  I know you alone are God whether life is calm or stormy.  Forgive me for the times I doubt and for the times I question your goodness.  While you are my friend, you are still God.  Your power is greater than anything.  I thank you for your strength in times of my weakness. Thank you for being my ever-present help in time of need. Thank you for upholding me above my enemies.  You alone are good.  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Numbers 19; Psalm 56-57; Isaiah 8-9:7; James 2

Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish and on which no yoke has been laid.  You shall give it to the priest Eleazar, and it shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. Numbers 19:2-3 NRSV

The Old Testament has quite a few rituals recorded there that God demanded as part of His desire to reveal His authority and His holiness.  I could never get a handle on them all but as I got older, not only do I get them, but I under the new covenant I see what we have been given through Jesus.

 

But the Old Testament also gives us promises.  I love those promises – they are hope to me whenever I read them and those hopes are real because of Jesus.

For you have delivered my soul from death, and my feet from falling, so that I may walk before God in the light of life. – Psalm 56:13 NRSV

Even on Sunday morning, as our church started a series on the Apostles Creed – I was reminded that God is the ultimately authority and is holy.  While He is also a generous God who gave us Jesus, and because of Jesus we can call Him, Abba Father, I am to remember that He is my Father and with all the authority and holiness that comes with that.

 

But the Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread – Isaiah 8:13 NRSV

 

So my walk has to be holy too.  I get now why Jesus called us to be perfect and holy.  In the little things, they matter, because God matters and what I believe about God matters. In my fund-raising ministry I might be tempted to favour those with more wealth, but God calls me to obey Him.

 

My brothers and sisters,[a] do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? – James 2:2 NRSV

Lord, I want and need to show my world that deep inside, not just on the outside, I am a follower of Jesus.  I know that when I made the decision to follow You, I invited you to change me from the inside out.  There is no way I want to fake my decision, to act my way through my faith – I want to be real.  I need you Father to help me, I need your strong-arm to guide me and I need your wisdom to teach me.  May those who look on my life say that You really matter to me.  For Your glory and Your honour I pray.  Amen

evanlaar

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Deuteronomy 6-9; Luke 7

When he walked into the room and saw me, his face lit up. He walked into a room of family and friends and it was his birthday celebration, and yet when he looked at me, his face lit up. I saw it and held that image in my heart.

“Did you see his face when he saw you?” my husband asked. Oh, he had noticed it too! And then my tears.

It was my dear friend’s 75th birthday, and all I could do was cry. He made his way around the room, greeting guests, but he spent the longest time with me. He pulled up a chair next to me, and we were head to head, and he talked to me like I was the only one in the room. I cried because I loved him so much. I couldn’t hold it back, and I tried–I mean, who cries through parties?! He calls me his daughter, and he and his wife treat my family like we are their own.

I always thought the story of the woman crying at the Lord’s feet was unsettling. It made me uncomfortable.

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. 37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them. Luke 7:36-38, NLT.

That day celebrating my friend, the tears that wouldn’t stop, the overflowing of love for him–I suddenly got it. I went home that day and cried some more and wrote him a letter from my heart, sat at a desk crying as I realized God’s deep love for me, modeled through a man who calls me daughter.

These Deuteronomy verses are dear to me, and I read them with fresh perspective, being on the other side of a promise–a promised land, with streams and pools of water, of grapevines and pomegranates, olive oil and copper in the hills. In my notes, I write down what stands out to me: (OT) teach kids, land (provision), remember God (praise, love, obey, fear), blessing, he makes a way; (NT) signs and miracles, healing and forgiveness, the woman’s tears, “Your faith has saved you.”

I remember His signs and miracles in my life, His provision, His love for me (adoption and forgiveness of sins).

For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.

“The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you …” Deuteronomy 7:6-7a, NLT.

Father God, thank you for loving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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